WELLINGTON — If you follow the Wellington Police Department’s Facebook page, you have no doubt seen the memes that show up at 9 p.m., reminding residents to lock their houses, cars and not to leave any expensive belongings in their cars.
“It is another way for us to reach out to our community just to take another reduction out of property crime,” Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath said.
Seventy to 80% of crime in the city is property theft, Heath said. Living in a small town, people might think they are safe or it’s never going to happen to them, but “we still see the array of crime the big city does,” Heath said.
“Times have changed,” he said. “We need to be mindful that there are folks in our community who will take things.”
With nightly reminders to lock up, presented through humorous memes, the hope is more people will protect their home, car and belongings and “eliminate opportunity” Heath said.
“Anything we do from a law enforcement perspective to try and educate the public, I think, is just a plus,” Heath said.
Sgt. Sara Owens, of the Wellington Police Department, puts the nightly reminders on Facebook. She presented the idea to a panel at the WPD when she was interviewing for the job of sergeant. She had previously worked at a sheriff’s department in Florida that had implemented Facebook memes to reduce property crime.
The WPD decided to see how the Facebook memes would work and they started appearing in March or April.
“I give kudos to Sara, Heath said. “She has done a really good job over the last several months.”
It is too early to know what kind of effect the memes are having, but the department plans to look at theft numbers at the end of the year.
“If we can reduce theft by five or 10 percent, that certainly is a win in our book,” Heath said.