DELPHOS — Those in law enforcement often say criminals are made, not born. Most criminals begin with deviant behavior in childhood and according to Police Chief Kyle Fittro, escalation typically begins with curfew violations. He said it usually starts between the ages of 11-13 and happens more frequently when kids aren’t in school.
“We usually see some increases in summer when they’re not in school. According to the city ordinance, if they’re younger than 14, their curfew is 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. and if they’re over 14 but younger than 18, it’s 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays,” he said.
Parents are not allowed to permit their teenager to be out during curfew other than for the following exceptions:
• If the respective youth is a high school graduate;
• Is headed directly home from work immediately after leaving the workplace;
• Is with a parent or responsible adult;
• Is out past curfew in a manner directly related to a family emergency;
• Newspaper delivery; or
• Attending a school-sponsored, civic or religious event and going directly and immediately home afterward.
Fittro said the summer spike in curfew violations fits into the normal cycle of criminal behavior. He said domestic violence and certain other crimes are more prevalent in winter while other crimes surge in summer.
“It’s not dramatic but we do see some increases in underage drinking, minor theft, some traffic violations and disagreements or disputes but not even rising to the level of assault,” he said.
Fittro also said summer brings an increased threat of home invasions because residents go on vacation and warmer weather is conducive to people being out late. Fittro says criminals look for unlocked cars, doors and windows as they lurk in the middle of the night. Those who burglarize homes tend to target specific houses for specific reasons.
“We have people break into houses pretty frequently but they aren’t random. Our burglaries aren’t committed by some guy out running around in a ski mask. They’re usually someone who has been in your home and knows you have something they want — a friend of a son or daughter, for example. They saw the new flatscreen television you just bought or they saw the Facebook post about it or your Facebook post that you’re on vacation, he said. “They want to break in when it’s easy to do so and when your home is accessible, like through a door or window that’s left unlocked. So, people should take measures to ensure it isn’t easy.”
Here are some tips to make it more difficult for thieves:
• Lock doors and windows;
• Don’t advertise to everybody that will listen the house will be vacant for two weeks (People post this kind of stuff on Facebook all the time);
• Leave appropriate exterior lighting on;
• Have a friend or relative check the house once a day, pick up the newspaper, change the interior lighting around and make it look like somebody is there;
• Leave a television on inside (Burglars hate the glow of a TV screen at 2 a.m. It seems like somebody is up watching it);
• Have a friend or relative care for the yard. Nothing says ‘abandoned’ like high grass and wilted flowers; and
• Don’t leave obvious valuables in plain sight of somebody looking through a window. (Don’t have grandma’s heirloom jewelry collection “on display” on the dresser right beside the window).