In January, two juveniles were arrested for the alleged theft of a type six engine, valued at over $200,000, after police learned of a forced entry into the station. Since 2013, SDAO member fire districts had twenty-nine station break-ins. As recently as this March, three stations in rural Lane County had similar break-ins occur; two were within one day of each other. These thefts have resulted in losses of emergency equipment up to $35,000.
As participants in the member-owned insurance pool, all districts are encouraged to make sure their facilities are secure to discourage theft. This is especially true now, when many of our member fire districts are spread thin providing service across the state.
Here are some tips to assist you in evaluating your stations:
- Evaluate your property to ensure it is safe and secure. Trust your gut reaction. Facilities and areas that appear vulnerable become targets.
- "Own" the space. If the facility is easily accessible and visible, the property and contents are well marked and readily identifiable, and the space is clearly defined it will send the message that the area is intended for a specific purpose, and it is not a place for individuals to hang out.
- Maintain landscaping to discourage hiding places. Shrubs should be cut to lower than two feet tall or trimmed up so you can see through the lower four feet. This is known as the two-by-four rule of thumb.
- Eliminate hiding places provided by fencing. It is also important to ensure your fencing does not provide a way to access the roof of your facility.
- Windows should be locked but not blocked. Windows can be used by people passing by or living nearby to see inside your buildings. Get to know your neighbors and talk to them about how to contact you when they see activity at these locations.
- Join efforts with your local law enforcement. Give them access codes to buildings that have bathroom facilities. Having a patrol car show up unannounced to make a pit stop or write reports is a good deterrent.
- Add video surveillance to buildings. Security systems and video surveillance can be crucial in catching and prosecuting thieves. This item can often be part of a successful safety and security grant application.
As always if you would like assistance with this or any other risk management concern, please contact the SDAO Risk Management team at email@example.com or call 800-285-5461