Car Burglaries & Disposing of Unwanted Prescription Drugs
Each autumn, we get an influx of transients to Ukiah, and the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) must respond to an upsurge in complaints and calls for assistance that relate to quality of life issues like thefts and auto burglaries, public urination and defecation, large piles of trash, and open drug sales and use. The increase in transients also leads to more violent crimes like dog bite attacks, felony assaults, and even our most recent murder. Our police officers have to go on high alert to protect themselves, too. Just last year, eight Ukiah police officers were injured during violent struggles with transients and those on parole and probation.
The arrival of transients and the resulting increase in crime are easy to track. In autumn, more transients come to town, often to participate in the illegal marijuana harvest. Many transients have substance abuse problems that involve methamphetamines and other illicit drugs. To pay for their habit, they commit crimes like thefts and auto burglaries. When they are under the influence of these drugs, they often become violent and hurt each other or innocent people in our community.
Since July, the UPD has received 41 reports of burglary to autos, half of which occurred to autos with unlocked doors. Some of the most commonly stolen items are backpacks, gym bags, briefcases, cash/coins, wallets, purses, portable GPS navigation systems, cell phones and other items of obvious value. Most recently, these auto burglaries have occurred in our shopping center parking lots and the neighborhoods west of Dora Street.
You can reduce the chance of these types of burglaries by following the recommendations below.
- Don't leave valuables in your car. That sounds like common sense, but people leave items of value in plain view every day. If you leave valuable items visible in your car, your car is automatically a target. If you have to leave packages or shopping bags in your car unattended, lock them in the trunk out of sight. This includes leaving loose change in the console or cup holder. Without a clear prize in sight, a locked car will likely be bypassed for an easier “target of opportunity.”
- Leave no trace. Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables you just can’t see in your vehicle, such as docking stations or connector cables. Leave nothing in plain view that might make your vehicle worth getting into by a thief; especially coins or phone chargers. Additionally, remove your garage door opener from plain view. Depending on how it is programmed, it could be used to open your garage, attached residence or building.
- Lock all vehicle doors. Every year, we have items stolen from unlocked vehicles where the owner was only going to be gone “for a second.” It only takes seconds to steal your belongings!
- Set any alarm or anti-theft device. If you have an alarm, use it! Many people believe that car alarms no longer make a difference, but they can be an effective deterrent to an auto-burglar who most often chooses the easiest target.
- What to do if your car is burglarized. As soon as you notice something has been stolen or that your car has been broken into, do not touch or adjust anything in, on, or around the car. As soon as possible, call the police to report it and let the responding officer determine if evidence is present.
Along with car burglaries, I also wanted to share information about this important new program: disposing of unwanted prescription drugs in a safe way.
Disposing of Unwanted Prescription Drugs
Medicines play an important role in treating certain conditions and diseases, but they must be taken with care. Typically, doctors only prescribe what we should take, but sometimes we have leftover medicine. Unused medicine disposed of improperly can be very harmful to wildlife, pets, and people, and flushing these medications down the toilet is very harmful to our environment and water systems.
So, here at the UPD, we were excited to receive a medications disposal box from the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority and CalRecycle. We’ve installed the box in our lobby.
This drop off box is specifically for unwanted medications and should NOT be used to discard needles, liquids, or other trash. Access to this medication disposal box is available in our Police and Fire Department lobby Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Our hope is that through the proper disposal of medications we will help protect our environment’s waterways and assure these medications are not abused.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.