Carol Wilson, Capistrano Beach

Capistrano Beach has a 28 percent higher crime rate than the rest of Dana Point. Now that Prop. 47 has taken effect, crimes that used to send someone to jail are now misdemeanors and only a “ticket” can be issued. So criminals can steal up to $950 worth of possessions and only get a ticket. They can continue to do that over and over if it’s under $950, no jail time, just a ticket. As a result property crimes are up, breaking into cars, open garages, etc., as long as it’s under the limit they are free to commit crime. When someone steals from you, shoplifts, possesses drugs as long as it’s under the $950 limit, when you call the police, their hands are tied to prevent this from happening repeatedly by this new law.

What this change does is place the responsibility of helping keep crime out of the neighborhoods up to the residents on every block. In Capo Beach where we have no streetlights and have close proximity to PCH and the beach, it makes it just that much more inviting for petty criminals to frequent our neighborhoods.

That’s where Neighborhood Watch comes in. When you see something suspicious, strangers around a neighbor’s house when you know they are away from home, “casing” open garages and cars or opening mailboxes (that’s a federal offense), or observe any other crimes like someone committing assault or threatening to do so, you have to help be the eyes and ears of your block and call the police. You can remain anonymous when you call. If you can organize or find someone on your block who is willing to be a captain, you can start a neighborhood watch on your block. Neighborhood Watch never gets directly involved with criminals or incidents, the “captain’ is just a coordinator to let the residents know about incidents other neighbors have passed on to the block captain.

Our neighborhood watch has been dormant for many years, and there is not a better time to get this active again than now. Officer Jill Jackson is heading up a new effort to get Neighborhood Watch throughout Dana Point. You can reach her for more information at 949-248-3581 or at jnjackson@ocsd.org.

Currently it is up to our Sheriff’s Department to make this vital again, but it will take more than one person with a full time job to make that happen. Our Mayor, Debra Lewis is strongly supporting ramping up participation throughout the city and having programs in place to keep it active on an ongoing basis.

I strongly urge the rest of our City Council to do their part to keep crime down in Dana Point by getting behind this program as well.

To submit a letter to the editor, email editorial@danapointtimes.com.

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