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Sky Valley neighbors learn tips to fight crime

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By Rikki King
Herald Writer
SULTAN -- Sultan's community safety meeting on Wednesday night wasn't so much about crime as crimefighting.
Roughly 130 neighbors from around the Sky Valley gathered at Sultan High School to talk about crime, safety and related topics.
Sultan is a safe place, but the community must help keep it that way, Police Chief Jeff Brand said.
With the bad economy, police departments and prosecutors have less staffing and fewer resources, Brand said. Still, neighbors can make a difference by getting involved.
The chief encouraged people to join Block Watch or Neighborhood Watch groups. Participating can help them learn appropriate ways to report crime and suspicious activity in their communities, he said.
Quality tips help police arrest drug dealers and cut back on crime, Brand said.
Too often, people want a problem in their neighborhood addressed, but they don't want to give their name or make a statement, Brand said.
Police can't bust down doors on a rumor, Brand said. They also can't use secondhand, anonymous information as evidence in court.
Block Watch and Neighborhood Watch groups are great tools to keep track of crime trends and share safety bulletins, said Donna Murphy, Sultan's volunteer coordinator.
In the past, people associated with those groups have made significant contributions to criminal investigations and prosecutions, Snohomish County prosecuting attorney Mark Roe said.
The groups provide a way for neighbors to work against crime in positive ways, he said.
"We need together as a community, to stand up and say, 'You can't do that here,'" he said. "That's what Block Watch is all about."
In Sultan and surrounding areas, all crime rates have been level or dropping except for theft, Brand said. Most often, that's from someone seeing something they want and walking off with it.
Brand estimated that up to three-quarters of home burglaries in the Sultan area start with unlocked doors or windows. He reminded people to secure their property and not be too trusting.
That makes it easy for the "knuckleheads," he said.
"The simple fact is that there are unscrupulous people now who take advantage," he said.
Ann Gifford, director of community partnerships at the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, also reminded folks to write down the serial numbers of their electronics and snap pictures of their heirlooms in case of a burglary. That can help deputies solve the case, she said.
"You are the critical element," she said.
Roe also recommended that people keep a pad of paper and pen handy in their homes and cars. If they witness a crime or suspicious activity, their notes can be used in court, he said.
"That is a really a powerful thing to have," he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449;
Learn more
For more information about community Block Watch programs in Sultan, call 360-793-1811. There also are programs for people who live in unincorporated county. Involvement options are available for people who don't have email as well.
Story tags » SultanBurglaryCrimeNeighborhood WatchPolice

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