By Rusty Bradshaw
Being a retirement community or triple digit heat keeps crime down in Sun City.
A community homeowner found this out the hard way last week. At around 7 a.m. June 20 Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a home in the 10600 block of West Connecticut Avenue for a report of a suspicious male in the area, according to Sgt. Calbert Gillett, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. The homeowner then reported to 911 dispatch the man had forcibly entered her home through a patio door and would not leave.
“She said that she had never seen the man before and did not know who he was,” Mr. Gillett stated in an email.
The homeowner feared for her safety and left the residence to call 911 from the street. The suspicious male had barricaded himself inside her residence, according to Mr. Gillett. Deputies made numerous attempts to contact the barricaded suspect and after approximately one hour, the male, identified as Paul Termini, was taken into custody without injuries and booked into the 4th Avenue Jail on multiple charges.
While some Sun City residents leave for other locales during the hot summer months, others remain in the community. Sun City Posse officials offer a number of tips to help homeowners enhance security at their homes.
Toni Ashby, Block Watch co-coordinator, said the first safety measure is to keep all doors and windows locked. She said in the case of patio doors, residents can put a wooden or metal rod in the track for the sliding door to keep the door from being opened if the lock is compromised. There is also a peg lock available by drilling a hole through the frames of both metal doors where they intersect (but not through to the outside of the exterior portion of the frame) and inserting a peg.
“Having hinges on the outside of your doors is also to be avoided,” Ms. Ashby said. “Those can be removed by people trying to get into the home.”
Inserting two large screws into the door jam, sticking out about one inch and matching holes in the door when closed, would keep it from being removed even if the hinges were taken off, Ms. Ashby said.
Homeowners can also keep a heavy duty flashlight or a strobe light accessible. Light can scare away an intruder and a strobe will confuse them long enough for the resident to escape, Ms. Ashby said.
“Another thing people can do is keep their car fob near them at all times and they can hit the panic button if there is an intruder,” she explained. “That noise will usually scare them off.”
She also suggested keeping some lights on in the home, even when residents are asleep.
Ms. Ashby also suggested residents not open the door to anyone they do not know.
“You can always ask for a telephone number so you can verify that person at your door is who they say they are,” she said.
Sun City residents can also help improve the safety in their neighborhood by joining the Block Watch, coordinated by the Posse.
“The more Block Watch signs we have out there the better,” Ms. Ashby said.
Residents in the Dawn Lake area have more than 35 signs in their neighborhood, she added. While Block Watch numbers increased significantly earlier in the year, the rise has slowed to a trickle with winter visitors away during the summer.
Block Watch is a program designed for residents to look out for each other, according to Ms. Ashby.
“It is not being nosy neighbors, it’s being helpful neighbors,” she quoted her co-coordinator, Jean Schmidt, as saying during program presentations to residents, clubs and organizations.
Residents or groups that want to have a Block Watch presentation made can call the Posse at 623-972-2555.
“We want residents to pay attention to what belongs in their neighborhood so they can recognize when something doesn’t belong,” Ms. Ashby said.
She added residents are encouraged to leave a duplicate key to their home with a trusted neighbor, not just a relative in another state.