Crime: Theft
Victim: Lauren McCombs
Date: Tuesday, May 22
Time: 8:20 a.m.
Location: 12000 block of Pandora

Lauren McCombs didn’t catch a thief in the night. She caught one in broad daylight.

In May, McCombs called police to say that someone had stolen a metal trash can from underneath her carport. A metal trash can might not seem like much, but when it’s the third theft in three weeks, it starts to get old.

McCombs saw the thieves with her own eyes that morning. Her husband once caught them when he came home during his lunch break.

“It’s always something metal. It was a stainless steel trash can this last time. The time before it was a big metal fan and some scrap metal — anything they can use for scrap,” she says.

Her next-door neighbors have caught the same men stealing from them, McCombs says.

“We exchanged descriptions of them, and it’s the same guys,” she says.

Police took fingerprints from some of the items around McCombs’ house, but the investigation has not led to any arrests. McCombs advises her neighbors to keep valuables, especially metal, hidden away, and no matter how small, always report a theft, she says.

“What they’re doing is turning metal into money. Even with the small things, she’s absolutely doing the right thing by reporting it,” says Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Ron Carpenter, who is also the Volunteers in Patrol (VIP) coordinator for the Northeast Police Division.

In the VIP program, citizens are trained to patrol their own neighborhoods for suspicious activity, such as people taking metal objects from neighbors’ yards. The VIPs don’t actually confront criminals or residents about potential crime, but they do contact police when necessary.

“We like to think our mere presence is a deterrent,” says VIP Sharon Smith.

Smith is the crime watch coordinator for the Highland Meadows Neighborhood Association, and she advises neighbors that anything visible is vulnerable, whether it’s in your car or under your carport.

“If it’s out there, somebody may take it. We’ve had bikes, yard art, lawn equipment and potted plants taken,” she says. “We have a nice neighborhood, nice neighbors, but they can’t be everywhere. You have to be crime-safe, which means you put away your valuables and you keep your property and your family safe.”