The commander of the Harford County Sheriff's Office Northern Precinct has spoken to several community councils this fall about preventing burglaries, and he brought that same message Tuesday to the monthly meeting of the Jarrettsville/Norrisville Community Council.
About 25 people attended the meeting, held at the Norrisville branch of the Harford County Public Library.
"Be vigilant . . . don't give the bad guy any ammunition, and pay attention to things," Capt. Jack Meckley told the audience.
Meckley reiterated advice he had provided during a recent Darlington meeting and Fallston council meeting.
He encouraged those in attendance to keep their garage doors when working in the yard, and not to leave their car running to keep it warm, even if they are going into a store for a few minutes.
"These are crimes of opportunity," Meckley said.
He also advised residents to take their dogs seriously if they suddenly start barking in the middle of the night because they detect something out of the ordinary.
"If he barks at 3 in the morning, don't tell him to shut up," Meckley said. "He's barking for a reason. Bad guys don't want to get bit and they don't want to go to jail."
Representatives of the Sheriff's Northern and Southern precincts are regular fixtures at monthly community council meetings around Harford County, during which they provide local crime statistics and crime prevention tips.
The Sheriff's Office has divided the county into 10 sectors, and the Jarrettsville and Norrisville areas are covered by Sectors 80 and 90.
Meckley provided statistics for September of 2013, comparing to the same time period in 2012. He noted Sector 80 is the quietest sector in the county in terms of calls for service.
The Part One crimes, or felonies, in Sector 80, which roughly covers the area of northwest Harford between the Baltimore County line and Route 165 (Federal Hill Road) included one assault and three thefts for 2013, compared to five burglaries, one assault, one auto theft and two thefts in 2012.
Sector 90 covers the area between Federal Hill Road in the west and then Pylesville Road and Ady Road in the east.
The Part One crimes for that sector included four burglaries, two assaults and two thefts for 2013, compared to seven burglaries and two thefts in 2012.
Meckley told audience members that local residents are critical for catching criminals and encouraged them to look for anything out of the ordinary and to contact law enforcement if they see anything wrong.
"We usually like to see [reports of] suspicious incidents higher because it means you guys are calling and saying something isn't right," he said.
"We have to rely on the public tremendously up here," he said.