I would like to inform county residents that with nicer weather on the way, coupled with higher costs of fuel and food, criminal activity tends to spike, especially burglaries and thefts.
Thieves are becoming more brazen as thefts are occurring in broad daylight. It is very fortunate that some residents have security cameras in place which have been used to identify these suspects.
From visiting with other law enforcement professionals not only in Kansas but across the country, we all agree that higher acts of criminal activity are either already here or on the way. Most of the suspects who are committing these crimes are active users of drugs, alcohol or both.
We are also asking the public to remain alert and to notify law enforcement if any strange or suspicious vehicles are traveling around your areas. Any information you can obtain while doing so in a safe manner would be appreciated. License plate information is very important as well as make and color of vehicle, direction of travel and number and type of occupants in the vehicle. Also articulate what is suspicious about the vehicle or activity. Dispatch has taken numerous reports of suspicious activity whether it is vehicle related or individuals of concern, they are happy to do so. They will take the information and then send an officer to investigate.
What many of these thieves do is travel the back roads during day lights hours and look for out of the way properties or places that look abandoned or neglected. If opportunity presents itself, they will steal items that are convenient, if not, they will then make their way back after dark to steal property that they can readily sell for cash or trade. We encourage landowners to set up trail cameras to capture images in case they are victims of theft. Gates with chain locks and fences are encouraged also. I realize not all places would allow for this but if gates are present and you have anything of value, closing and securing a gate is not a bad idea. One resident has gates and a cleverly concealed trail camera pointed in the direction of the gate and anyone trying to gain access can be readily identified. I have several rural property owners who also have dogs guarding their out of the way property and have not had any issues with thefts.
We are also seeing more door to door activity, especially in the rural areas. I am not suggesting that all people going door to door are scammers or doing something illegal, however, with the changing times–we cannot be too careful of who we are allowing in to our homes. It is always a good idea to request identification from anyone you choose welcome to your home whether they are selling items, offering services or any other reason. At the bare minimum they should be able to provide a business card representing themselves, company letterhead or similar. It is my opinion that credible vendors should offer this in advance and not pressure anyone in to a financial decision.
When vendors are going through the county, I request that they come to the sheriffs office and let me know who they are, what vehicles they are driving and the names of all people that will be in our area. In addition, I request contact information to forward to residents if they have complaints about the tactics they are being subjected to by the individuals.
Unless you are sure of who you are dealing with, please do not allow these folks in your home. This may sound bad, but nowadays you cannot trust most people.
With farmers beginning to start the planting season, we are anticipating fuel thefts as well as tools and vehicles. Remember this when you are leaving tractors, UTV’s, trucks etc parked in the the field as thieves are looking for easy opportunities to steal your hard earned property.
The public is law enforcements greatest asset, you know what is normal in your area and what is suspicious. With your information we have held many people accountable for their actions.
If you do have concerns, try to gather as much information as possible such as person identifiers, vehicle information and licenses plate is great and call your local law enforcement as soon as possible, Please do not wait to report.
Thank you to the county citizens for your input and support.
Sheriff John D Merchant