Q: I have lived in the Sunset Park area of Santa Monica for 20 years and I am the captain of our Neighborhood Watch group on our block. In order to prevent crime, I have instructed our neighbors to call the police when they witness suspicious activity in our neighborhood. I’m often asked what would be considered suspicious and what number should a person call when this activity is observed. Can you help me with some suggestions?

A: Suspicious activity is anything that seems “out of place” for your area. Some things to look out for are (but not limited to):

• A person walking down the street peering into parked vehicles;

• A stranger entering your neighbor’s property/house when they are away;

• Any vehicle driving slowly or repeatedly through your area, with or without lights on;

• A person selling expensive merchandise, such as speakers, at an extremely low price;

• Door to door salesmen/solicitors who do not have identification, refuse to show you identification, or turn the doorknob to see if the door is locked;

• Someone sitting in a parked car for an extended period of time.

These behaviors are some of the many signs that an individual is either committing a crime or looking for the opportunity to commit a crime. If you suspect unusual activity in your area, please call the Santa Monica Police Department’s non-emergency line at (310) 458-8491 and provide as much information to the dispatcher as possible. If you believe an actual crime is occurring, call 911 immediately. Our department is most effective when we receive the help of concerned, responsible citizens. So please don’t hesitate to call us, even if you think someone else already has or will.

Q: Cars are always speeding down my street. Is there anything that can be done about them?

A: Any time you witness a reckless driver whose behavior you believe will likely cause a collision, such as an impaired driver, please call our Communications Center at (310) 458-8491 and provide as much information about the vehicle as possible.

In other cases, if you notice that speeding vehicles are becoming a constant problem on your street, you have several options. First, you can call your neighborhood resource officer and/or the police department’s Traffic Enforcement Section at (310) 458-8993. NROs work with the Traffic Enforcement Section to track and implement traffic safety programs in the city, which include both education and enforcement measures.

Another option would be to contact the Transportation Management Division at City Hall and see what types of traffic calming measures are available for your neighborhood. Traffic calming measures include speed bumps, traffic circles and additional signs (including speed limit signs that display a vehicle’s speed using radar). For more information on these measures, contact Transportation Management at (310) 458-8291.

Crime alert

Beat 4, which is the area between Wilshire Boulevard and Montana Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard to 20th Street, is experiencing an increase in auto related break-ins. The SMPD reminds everyone to remove all valuables from your vehicle, place them in the trunk before arriving at your destination, or store them away so they are not easily visible. This includes laptops, cell phones, GPS devices, purses, backpacks, money, etc. Take these precautions at all times, whether parking on a public street or in a parking garage. These types of crimes are crimes of opportunity, so making it difficult for criminals to strike will help the effort significantly. Visit our Web site at www.santamonicapd.org to watch a great video with tips to prevent you from becoming a victim.

If you have police related questions or concerns, we’d like to hear them. Send your questions or comments to nro@smgov.net and you may see your question in our weekly column accompanied by valuable feedback for the rest of the community. While not all questions will appear in the column, all questions submitted will be answered by a department representative. Also, please note that we will supply as much information as possible without jeopardizing any legal proceedings or investigations. Remember, if you have a question, chances are, another reader may be wondering the same thing. So don’t hesitate to ask!

This column was prepared by NRO Artis Williams, Beat 7, Sunset Park Neighborhood. He can be reached by phone at (424) 200-0687 or by e-mail at artis.williams@smgov.net.

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