Farmington Hills pet owners help police keep an eye out for crime

Paw Watch program turns pet owners into crime fighters

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor , Derick Hutchinson

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - Pet owners in Farmington Hills are becoming crime fighters to help keep their neighborhoods safe.

Residents know their neighbors, they know the coming and going of vehicles, and they know what's normal in their neighborhood. Most people agree it's important to help keep their community safe.

Farmington Hills officials are encouraging people to use pets to help fight off criminals.

"A common thing I hear is, 'I'm not sure if this is worth calling about,'" said Heather Bowman, of Farmington Hills police. "Let us determine that."

Some pet owners in Farmington Hills came together for a Paw Watch meeting.

"Crime typically has to have a motive and an opportunity," Bowman said. "So, motive we know exists. We can't change that. Opportunity we can change."

Residents at Paw Watch meetings learn from members of the Farmington Hills Police Department about what to look out for when they are walking their pets.

"A car that's driving slowly through the neighborhood, seems to be looking at houses, or someone that's looking through windows," Bowman said. "How to properly report it to the police."

Other things to be aware of are vehicles parked in unusual spots, people walking with no defined direction and unoccupied idling vehicles.

"They are professionals," Bowman said. "They come in in teams. Two to three vehicles. The first cases the area, second loosens lugnuts, third one comes in and takes the tires."

Lindsay Santilli is one of the residents who signed up for the program.

"Things I look out for just tends to be cars out of place," Santilli said. "Anyone that looks suspicious, people that are, like, soliciting but they don't have a permit. That's kind of a red flag."

She said she's already out with her dog every day at all different times of the day, so what better way to look for possible criminal action?

"I think I'm more conscious of not having my phone in my face, knowing what's going on around me," Santilli said.

Farmington Hills police said there are 3,071 dogs registered in the community.

"We want to foster a community that can take the resources that they have and utilize them into preventing crime and helping their neighbors," Bowman said. "Thus, just making a safer, more wonderful community for all of us."

If your city doesn't have a Paw Watch program, you can always keep your eye out for things that look suspicious. Police would rather get a phone call then let a crime be committed.

You can watch Karen Drew's full story in the video posted above.

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