We do not need police statistics to tell us that auto-related crimes in Chestnut Hill have been out of control for some time now. Chestnut Hill is not alone when it comes to car theft. Today, this problem permeates all communities, cities and suburbs alike. The reasons for the increase in car theft are numerous. Unaddressed, it is clear that auto-related crimes will not go away.
Many residents believe Chestnut Hill is suffering from a significant lack of police presence. There is little question that this is a major obstacle to successfully combating our car theft problem, as well as most of our security issues. Having recently attended numerous meetings of both the CHBA and CHCA, I am convinced that these groups are attacking this problem with an unyielding determination. It is a strong likelihood that a permanent solution to our lack of police presence may soon be a realization of their dedicated hard work.
However, we cannot rely solely on the actions, of our various associations to solve these problems for the community. We must proactively complement their efforts with simple preventative steps that we can all take in order to make it less attractive for unlawful visitors to come to Chestnut Hill.
For example, it is imperative that all property within plain sight be removed from visibility when your car is parked. Brief cases, cellular phones, hand bags, sporting equipment, CDs and loose change are just some examples of items which should be removed from your car, or at a minimum placed in your trunk. According to the crime report in the January 16, 1997 edition of the Chestnut Hill Local, just over 20 percent of the auto-related crimes were limited to property theft alone.
Steering wheel locking devices such as the "Club" and car alarms have proven to be successful auto theft deterrents. The popularity of the Club relates to the fact that it is one of the most cost effective measures at stemming auto theft. While more expensive then the Club, car alarms have become easier to use and relatively more affordable due in part to recent technological advancements.
The community has voiced concern that our lack of adequate street lighting provides thieves with an environment that is too conducive to them practicing their trade. There have been recent talks of improved primary street lighting on Germantown Avenue and secondary street lighting on our residential streets, but until that comes to fruition we must do our part by making sure that we turn on our porch lights every evening at dusk. This will add increased lighting to our streets, a nemesis to most criminals, including car thieves.
For instance, the installation of motion detection lights for your driveway will create a sudden burst of light around your car when motion is detected; this may have enough surprise impact to scare off a thief.
Collectively, the CHBA, CHCA, Public Safety Committee including Town Watch are working hard to reduce the crime rate in Chestnut Hill. While the steps I have outlined are not a panacea to eliminate auto-related crimes, these simple precautions will greatly complement our associations' efforts in striving to make Chestnut Hill a safer community.