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(Enlarge) Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Garrison Commander

True to the maxim that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," we can all do more to prevent crime from happening in our neighborhoods.

As garrison commander, the safety and security of our post community is my top priority.

Our police and force protection personnel have initiated many measures to ensure the safety of the community, including random patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles and foot patrols in the housing neighborhoods.

And while Fort Meade is one of the safest places to live, work and visit in the region, there are things we can all do to help keep our communities safe.

It starts with everyone taking responsibility to remember the basics of personal security. That means doing simple things such as locking doors, securing valuables and ensuring windows are locked when you leave your home.

According to crime prevention specialists, crime of opportunity is one of the main issues on military installations. Opportunity crimes mainly occur in three areas of the installation: barracks, parking lots and family housing.

Here are a few home security tips:

* Set timers on lights when you're away from home so your house appears to be occupied.

Did you know you also can alert the Fort Meade Police to check on your home while you are on vacation or an extended leave of absence?

* Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge or in the mailbox.

* Illuminate or eliminate places an intruder might hide: the spaces between trees or shrubs, stairwells, alleys, hallways and entryways.

If you live in post housing, call your designated neighborhood center to discuss your concerns.

* Do not leave items such as bicycles, children toys and sporting goods unsecured outside.

* Do not leave cell phones, iPods, GPS systems, purses or wallets in plain view and in unlocked vehicles.

* Close your garage door. An empty garage says, "You're not at home." Thieves can easily steal bikes, lawn mowers and other valuables. Burglars can close the garage door and take their time breaking into your home.

To learn more about how you can help keep our neighborhoods safe, I encourage everyone to attend Fort Meade's annual National Night Out on Aug. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. at McGlachlin Parade Field.

This free event is sponsored by the Directorate of Emergency Services and Picerne Military Housing. National Night Out is designed to heighten crime-prevention awareness, generate support for anticrime programs and strengthen partnerships between emergency responders and the neighborhoods their serve.

This is a great event and I hope to see you there.

We may not live in a perfect world but we all can take steps to make our communities safer and prevent many crimes from becoming a reality.

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