Avoid falling victim to crimes of opportunity

When you live in a small town like Elkins, it might be easy to think “I know all my neighbors, crime only happens in the big towns.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. For one, we are growing by leaps and bounds. But also, there is nothing to prevent people from coming into our community to commit a crime.

In Elkins, we’ve had several times where there was a rash of thefts throughout neighborhoods and just last month, Goshen had five different neighborhoods that were hit with what the police call “crimes of opportunity.”

We reached out to the Elkins Police Department to ask what we as residents can do to deter crime throughout the community. Chief Bryan Watt graciously sat down with us to give some tips on how residents can protect themselves and their neighbors.

“The most important thing is to take every opportunity to not be a victim of a crime,” he said.

Crimes of opportunity are simply crimes where the person was able to seize the given opportunity that was presented such as stealing unsecured items from a car or yard.

There are a few relatively simple steps to protect you and your property from crimes of opportunity including:

  • Lock all your doors including vehicles and your home. Most thefts from cars are when the vehicle was left unlocked, Chief said.
  • Make sure to never leave your firearms or other valuables in your car at all.
  • If you must leave items in your car (such as when running errands), lock them in the trunk.
  • Retrieve any delivered items as soon as possible and consider purchasing a lockbox where the delivery driver can secure the items on your porch.
  • Notify your neighbors of deliveries you’re expecting and ask them to retrieve the items if you won’t be home.
  • Consider a ring doorbell camera with both audio and visual capabilities. Police can get a lot of evidence from the videos if a crime does happen, Chief said.

We have a fantastic police department and an amazing community. It’s important for all of us to be aware of potential problems and work together to protect Elkins.