Bad guys don't go to jail for long if at all, so crime prevention is the best advice
Taft is still a relatively safe city.
Violent crimes like murder, robberies, shootings and stabbings are rare.
But property crimes aren't. They're becoming all too common.
If you haven't had something stolen from your yard or car or even been the victim of a home burglary, chances are at least one of your neighbors has been victimized.
New sentencing guidelines as a result of AB 109 and Prop. 47 mean that when police do catch the thieves, they either don't go to jail or are held only for a very short time, a fraction of what they would serve in the past.
So law enforcement isn't the answer anymore. Crime prevention is, says Taft Chief of Police Ed Whiting.
"We're going to put a greater focus on crime prevention," Whiting said last week at a meeting of the City of Taft Public Safety Committee.
"Making an arrest is no longer helpful. That's not working anymore," he said.
He emphasized that with an incident that took place at midday Monday.
Officers received a report of a suspect trying to open doors on vehicles parked on the 100 block of East Kern Street.
Officers found the suspect a short distance away. That suspect had been released on a citation just a few minutes earlier.
"He wasn't even gone 15 minutes and now he's trying to steal from cars," Whiting said. "It's just ridiculous."
Whiting went through a checklist of the best ways for people to protect their property.
Many people make it easy for the criminals, he said, by failing to take common sense steps.
•Always lock your car and take valuables with you. "Leave nothing in your vehicle," Whiting said. "Nothing. No phone cables, iPads or laptops. Nothing. You cannot leave anything your car. It's going to get stolen."
•Close your garage door and lock it. "We're still finding garage doors open at 3 a.m." Whiting said. Open garage doors are an opportunity for thieves to take bikes, lawnmowers and more.
•Close and lock the doors and windows to your house. "People forget or they get distracted and they leave their doors ajar or unlocked," Whiting said. That's an invitation to a thief to walk in a steal items.
•Gun safes for gun owners. Cable locks for guns don't prevent thefts in case of a home burglary. "Guns and a safe go together." the Chief said.
•Don't leave recyclables like aluminum cans and CRV plastic outside. The theft of cans is a common occurrence. Put them in a garage or another secure place. "If you leave it on the side of your house, they're going to steal it," said Whiting.
Whiting said other security measures, like motion lighting and video surveillance are both big helps to police. High quality video helps officers identify the criminals and even if they don't result in jail time it can lead to victims getting property back.
When you do go out of town, don't announce it or post pictures while you're gone.
Most importantly, communicate with the police.
"If you see something, say something. Let us know. Tell us," Whiting said.