Law enforcement officers have many different responsibilities, including helping to solve criminal cases, making sure people are obeying traffic laws and acting as security for major events.
But another responsibility agencies such as the Fort Dodge Police Department shoulder is crime prevention.
Among the crimes that the FDPD works hard to prevent are those that impact property, such as burglary and theft.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police officer Joe Roetman demonstrates how he would take a report from a crime victim who came into the station to report an offense.
Police Chief Tim Carmody said there are many ways in which ordinary people can help deter break-ins, as well as keeping track of items inside their homes.
"Having an alarm system is helpful," Carmody said. "It's also a good idea to proactively document your possessions. That will help us out in the investigation because we're going to ask about specifics like the make, model and serial number."
Video cameras are another way in which people can make their house less appealing to criminals. However, Carmody said having that alone isn't enough.
Theft: When a suspect takes something with the intent of keeping it away from the victim.
Burglary: When a suspect intending to commit an assault or theft enters an occupied structure without permission.
Robbery: When a suspect intends to commit a theft while committing an assault, threatening someone or putting them in fear of immediate injury.
"If you're going to have a video camera, keep the storage device out of reach of the suspect," he said. "We've seen cases where the suspect will take the DVRs."
Officer Joelyn Johnson, who serves as the department's community resource officer, said the video cameras should also be high quality.
"If we can't make out the image or it's too dark, it's not going to do us much good except maybe give us the time frame," Johnson said. "We want as much information as we can gather off that surveillance as possible."
Motion sensor lights and routine landscaping work can also make a home less likely to be targeted by burglars and thieves, she said.
"Keep your bushes and trees trimmed and don't keep a lot of debris around your yard," she said. "Those are potential hiding spots for prowlers."
Johnson also stressed the importance of keeping doors locked at all times.
"Whether it's your car in the garage or at home in your residence, lock your doors," Johnson said. "Crime happens regardless of whether you're at home or not."
With the holiday season coming up, Johnson added that people should be mindful of what they're throwing away.
"Putting a big screen TV box in your front yard waiting for garbage day is a good way for burglars to go shopping," she said.
If someone does become the victim of a theft or burglary from their home, Carmody said it should be reported as soon as it's discovered.
"The sooner we get contacted, the easier it is for us to follow up," he said. "The longer you wait to report, the further away the suspect and evidence can travel. There's a chance the weather could impact the investigation, and there's a chance the scene could get destroyed."
One of the best ways to make sure crimes are prevented and those who commit them are caught is by paying attention to surroundings, he said.
"The partnership we have with citizens in trying to prevent crime is critical," Carmody said. "It's better to have 25,000 sets of eyes than 40 sworn law enforcement officers."