Curfews, parents can help curb summer crime

There is little dispute that crime involving teens rises during the summer months. And while juvenile offenders need to be held accountable, crime prevention specialists say much of the blame is misdirected.

“I think as a parent, it's going to be important to know where your kids are, set some limitations for them so they don't go out and get mixed up with the wrong crowd, that they're not out past hours and getting into trouble because they're bored or have nothing else to do,” said Sgt. Patrick Hechlinski a SBPD crime prevention specialist.

A lot of trouble with teens occurs after dark and "after hours" as Hechlinski calls it.

There is a curfew here in South Bend as well. That means no one under 15 should be out after 11 p.m. seven days a week. Teens 15, 16 and 17 need to be home by 11 p.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends.

“If you're coming home from work or with a parent, that sort of thing, then that's excused,” said Sgt. Hechlinski.

And there are incentives for parents to make sure their kids don’t break curfew. A first offense is $25, second offense $100 and $200 for every offense after that.

“I think the fines help because it comes out of the parents’ pocket book more, and it forces them to take some action against the kids,” said Sgt. Hechlinski.

Another big issue police deal with during the warmer months involves break-ins to homes. Again, a problem that police believe a responsible adult can solve in their home.

“You know, it's a nice day, there's a breeze, so they leave the window open,” said Sgt. Hechlinski. “They just got the screen that's keeping anyone from coming in; it's very easy to manipulate that. We recommend that you take the necessary measures to keep your home secure at night, especially if you’re a heavy sleeper or you don't have an alarm system to activate if someone breaks in. Take the necessary steps to make sure you're protected.”

And be wary of strangers coming to your home looking to do odd jobs. They may be looking to rip you off.

“If they want to mow your lawn and they don't have a lawnmower, that should be a red flag,” said Sgt. Hechlinski. “If they want to rake your yard but they're not carrying a rake, err on the side of caution. It's easier to hire a neighborhood kid that you know that can maybe use the money over the summer as opposed to somebody random that you don't know and you don’t know what their intentions are. And plus you tire the kid out so he's not going to break curfew, he’ll go to bed early, right?”

Curfews vary throughout Michiana. To find out curfew hours for your city or town, you can call your local police department or sheriff.

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