By Moses Leos III
The Kyle Police Department may be re-evaluating a practice meant to keep vehicle and homeowners from becoming a victim of crime.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said the department could review its tactic of leaving courtesy “crime prevention notes” notifying homeowners of unlocked vehicles or open garage doors.
The potential review stems from a Plum Creek resident who has voiced disapproval of the department’s tactics on social media.
According to the resident, a note was left on the interior of his vehicle informing him that he had left his car door unlocked on the street. The resident said the note urged him to lock the door. The note also had the name and the badge number of the officer that addressed the issue.
But the resident told the Hays Free Press he was concerned that the practice was a violation of his rights. He said his concerns were that officers could have the opportunity to search his vehicle without a warrant.
Barnett said officers that take part in leaving courtesy notes do not search vehicles.
“They are not searching the car or doing anything other than leaving a note,” Barnett said.
He added that the practice of officers leaving courtesy notes has been done for “many years.”
Barnett said it is part of the department’s initiative to keep neighborhoods and businesses safe from crime. The initiative encompasses building checks and checking residences for open garage doors and unlocked cars.
Many car vehicle burglaries in Kyle are a result of homeowners leaving their cars unlocked, according to Barnett.
One case of car theft involved vehicles in Plum Creek. Kyle Police in December 2014 arrested Randy Aviles after he burglarized several vehicles in Plum Creek. Aviles was arrested on four charges of burglary of a vehicle, a Class A misdemeanor, and a theft of a fire arm, a state jail felony.
“Officers have historically tried to offer some proactive crime prevention to lock your cars, lock your doors and close up your businesses,” Barnett said.
In addition, Barnett said the department refrains from placing courtesy notes on the exterior of vehicles. He said placing notes on the outside could lead a “would-be criminal to read the note.”
But the practice may be a thing of the past. Barnett acknowledged a discussion on the Plum Creek Neighbors Facebook page that held concerns about the notes. The move to stop may also be done for officer safety.
While officers haven’t been told to stop, Barnett said Kyle Police would begin to gather feedback from residents.
“We plan to communicate with home owners associations and crime watch organizations, as well as our citizen’s police academy and citizens,” Barnett said. “We’ll gauge community sentiment and we’ll see where that takes us.”
There is no timeline as to when the police department will gather community feedback at this time.