Summer is the time that shorts and tank tops come out across the county.
But unfortunately so do the burglars, car prowlers and the flashers, say Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo and Bellingham Police spokesman Mark Young.
Here are the crimes to keep an eye on as summer gets in full swing, as well as tips on prevention and what to do if they happen to you:
Burglaries and thefts from homes increase over the summer as people leave on vacations or become lax about locking doors and closing windows.
How you can prevent it: If you know you'll be out of town for some time on vacation, contact the post office to have them hold your mail, suspend your newspaper delivery and let a trusted neighbor know that you'll be gone. Tell that neighbor how long you'll be gone, how to contact you in case of emergency and who, if anyone, is allowed at your home while you're gone.
County residents can sign up to have the Sheriff's Office volunteer group, Citizens on Patrol, check on their home while they're gone. The patrols are done by local seniors who will check the outside of the home to make sure everything is as it should be. Those interested can sign up for the house checks at least 10 days before vacation on the Sheriff's Office website, co.whatcom.wa.us/sheriff, or call 360-676-6650. People interested in volunteering for the Citizens on Patrol can call the same number.
Or call your local police office to suggest increased patrols in your area.
What to do if it happens to you: First and foremost, call 911. If a break-in is obvious, don't go inside the home, just in case the burglar is still there, Elfo said. If you're already in the home, try not to touch or disturb anything that could be used as evidence: fingerprints, footprints or any unfamiliar items left behind.
To have a better idea of what's been taken from your home - and a better chance of tracking it down - make a list of your valuables before they're taken. Descriptions, photos and serial numbers are helpful for police and insurance. And if your valuables have been taken to a pawn shop, those details could help get your property back.
"It's a very good idea to keep an accurate inventory of all valuables," Elfo said.
The Bellingham Police Department has partnered with property inventory website reportit.leadsonline.com, which allows people to upload photos, descriptions and serial numbers of their valuables into a secure site.
"The more information we have, the more likely we're going to be able to get it back," Young said.
Summer is prime time for park and trail visits in Whatcom County. Cars parked at trailheads are a popular target for local thieves who know that the cars likely will be unattended and in an isolated area for an hour or more.
How to prevent it: Don't leave anything in your car that might be even remotely tempting. Purses, wallets, even change in your console, are all targets for car prowlers.
If you're going to put a purse or wallet in the trunk, Young advised doing it at home or before you get to the parking lot so someone waiting around doesn't see where your valuables are. The best idea, though, is to leave those items at home whenever possible.
And if you think hiding your wallet under a car seat will fool anyone, Young said that's the first place thieves usually check.
As for guns, don't leave one in a car unless it's in a safe, Young said.
"They are stolen more frequently than you'd like to know, and now we've got a criminal running around on the streets with a gun," he said.
If it happens to you: Call police, and if you can, don't get into your car until law enforcement arrives to check for evidence.
Unfortunately, with busier trails comes the higher likelihood of seeing a flasher out in the woods.
"One thing for sure is this time of year, when it gets sunnier and warmer out and people are on the trail more frequently, we tend to get more calls for indecent exposure," Young said.
Bellingham Police responded to three calls about indecent exposure and public masturbating on Tuesday, June 19, alone.
How to prevent it: Two words: Pay attention. Though listening to music might make a jog or hike more fun, Young advises people to pull out the headphones on the trail so you can hear what's going on around you and tell if someone is approaching.
"When you remove one of your senses you remove a tremendous warning device," he said.
What to do if it happens: Call 911, or if you're in Bellingham, call the local dispatch at 360-676-6911 and let them know where you are and what has happened.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Just like during the festivities of Christmas and New Year's Eve, alcohol-related incidents rise dramatically in summer. People drink at parks, picnics and barbecues, and often get behind the wheel after having one too many.
"The crime that presents the biggest danger to any of us is drinking and driving," Elfo said.
And it's not just closing time when drunk drivers present a threat; during summer daytime drinkers present a threat on the roads before sundown as well.
How to prevent it: During summer law enforcement agencies work together on emphasis patrols to catch people driving under the influence, so your best bet is to have a designated driver or call a cab if you've been drinking.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at email@example.com or call 756-2803.