Operation Hard Target: Protecting homes and vehicles in KMC

by Senior Airman William Reece and Senior Airman Eric Beougher 86th Security Forces Squadron and 569th United States Forces Police Squadron

Have you or anyone you know fallen victim to a house or vehicle break-in? Unfortunately, both of these crimes occur frequently within the KMC, and both events can leave victims reeling. But there are ways to protect your home and vehicle from being another statistic Operation Hard Target. For this operation, you can wage on crime in the area by lowering the likelihood that someone will identify you as a fresh target for theft.

From October 2015 to June 2016, there were 26 house break-in incidents affecting status of forces agreement members in the KMC. Of these 26 incidents, eight occurred during the hours of darkness, categorizing them as burglaries. The highest hit areas in the community were Landstuhl, Ramstein-Miesenbach and Bruchmuehlbach-Miesau, primarily due to the density of houses and proximity to the autobahn. In order to avoid being another house break-in statistic, here are some tips to help you to be a hard target:

  • Always double lock your doors, turning the key until it will not turn anymore, whether you are at home or away. It will make it harder for someone to force their way into your home.
  • Always close and lock your windows when no one is home. This eliminates easy modes of entry.
  • Do not leave boxes, particularly those from high-value items, along the curb of your residence. This could identify you to would-be criminals as a desirable target.
  • If you are going to be gone for several days, whether traveling or TDY, inform your landlord about the trip and ask a trusted friend to watch your home and help with key tasks while you’re away, including:
    • Collecting the mail from your mailbox, as backed up mail may indicate residents are away.
    • Placing your trash cans out for pick-up days to make it appear as though someone is home.
    • Randomly opening and closing different rollladens while you’re away to indicate someone is home.
  • If you ever return to your residence to see any strange chalk markings on your sidewalk, contact the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron at the KMC Law Enforcement Desk at 0631-536-6060 and take pictures of the markings for documentation. Some criminals have used these markings in the past to mark houses they believe are easy prey.
  • Never leave spare keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places. Criminals know where to look.

If you ever feel that your home has been broken into or is unsafe, do not go inside. Immediately call 112 for police assistance.

Unfortunately, vehicle break-ins are also prevalent in the KMC. From October 2015 to June 2016, there were 108 vehicle thefts and break-ins. More than half of these vehicles were secured doors locked, windows up at the time of the theft. These thefts occurred on all days of the week and were prevalent shortly after individuals arrived home from work and during the overnight hours. Most thefts were linked to high-value items being left in plain view to passersby. Also, just because someone lives on a military installation does not mean they are immune to these incidents. Break-ins can occur anywhere. Most common items stolen from vehicles include GPS systems, cell phones, MP3 players, military gear and uniforms, and computers and laptops.

In order to avoid being another vehicle theft statistic, here are some tips to help you to be a hard target:

  • Always lock your doors and keep windows rolled up. Eliminate easy entry.
  • Never leave high-value items in your vehicle, especially not in plain view. Also, stow or secure any secondary signs of high-value items such as GPS mounts, power cords, stereo AUX cables or cell phone chargers. All of these things could mark your car as a potential target.
  • Keep your car as clean and empty as possible. It will help avoid enticing would-be criminals.
  • Park in well-lit areas. If using on-street parking, try to park under a street light or motion-sensor light.
  • Remove and avoid any vehicle stickers or decals that could indicate any affiliation to specific groups, countries or interests. These markings make your vehicle stand out and could increase the likelihood that your vehicle is targeted.
  • Ensure rubber window seals, between the windows and doors, are maintained in order to prevent the easy use of break-in tools. If seals are cracked or worn, it may be a good time to replace them.

If you suspect that any of your personal belongings have been stolen, contact the police for assistance. For thefts that occur on Ramstein, contact the 86th Security Forces Squadron at 06371-47-2050. For thefts that occur off base or on any of the other military installations in the KMC, contact the KMC Law Enforcement Desk at 0631-536-6060.