MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
You were gone for five minutes, trying to get your laundry done before the upcoming week. As you approach your room you could have sworn you had closed your door, yet it is wide open. As you enter the room you realize things weren’t as you had left them. Drawers are open, padlocks cut. You notice clothes, jewelry and even your computer have disappeared. You have just become a victim of a barracks thief.
The Provost Marshal’s Office and the Criminal Investigation Division have been ramping up crime prevention measures in order to reduce the barracks larcenies and capture the thieves, PMO and the CID are attempting to make the barracks aboard the Combat Center crime-free by hosting crime prevention briefs and safety stand downs to teach Marines the importance of locking their rooms and valuables. Yet Marines and sailors are still making it easy for thieves by leaving their room’s unlocked and valuables unsecure.
Although every barracks room door is equipped with a locking mechanism, many people choose not to lock it when they leave for a multitude of reasons ranging from having lost their key, to thinking their possessions will be safe if they’re only gone for a minute, said Staff Sgt. Anthony Fox, the physical security chief at PMO.
“The top reason people won’t lock their room is because it is an inconvenience to them,” explained Fox, an Anderson, Ind., native. “They find it a hassle to get their keys to lock or unlock a door.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chad Getz, an investigations officer with CID, agreed with Fox, stating the majority of break-ins are a crime of opportunity.
“They see the open room, they see the property and they take advantage of the situation,” said Getz, a Lawrenceburg, Ind., native. “It doesn’t matter the time of day or how long a Marine is gone from his barracks room.”
Getz advises barracks dwellers to lock up all their property, especially high-value items in addition to other measures to keep what’s yours where it belongs.
“People should mark their property by etching their initials and last four of their social security number into the item,” explained Getz. “Also have a copy of serial numbers already on items.”
Items such as computers and televisions will already have a serial number. Getz said people should record the serial numbers and a description of the item on a separate piece of paper.
“Don’t leave your list on the computer,” said Gunnery Sgt. Loyd B. Brown, the CID chief. “An electronic copy is good to have, but should not be relied on as the only record if a thief raids a room. You’d be surprised on how many times a Marine will leave that list on the computer, and his computer will be stolen. Print it out and keep it separate from your high values.”
PMO and the CID cannot return items unless the service member can prove they are the proper owner.
If a barracks room is broken into, Getz advises people not to disturb the room in any way.
“Take a visual of your room, look around and take note of anything missing,” said Getz. “But do not move anything or shuffle through your possessions. You will most likely disturb any evidence we can acquire.”
The CID has a forensics lab that can obtain fingerprints, shoe impressions and even match a cut padlock with what instrument was used to cut it, which will all be a necessity to capture the thief.
PMO will also hold crime prevention briefs upon unit request. For more information contact Fox at 830-5457.