We’re excited to feature Ray Perez—Hobby-area security professional with nearly 20 years of law enforcement experience as a sergeant with the Houston Police Department—as our next Local Expert community blog contributor. After many years providing public safety, private protection and conducting investigations, Ray and his private security firm, Marshall Agency, provide security solutions including armed patrols with licensed officers. Learn more about Marshall Agency and connect with Ray to discuss options for safety and crime deterrence for your neighborhood or business.

Tell us a bit about your background and career.
I started out my career in uniform service with Marshall Agency and worked in the private security sector for almost five years. Then I joined the Houston Police Department in 2002 and served in patrol in the East Side area, Clear Lake area, and in Southwest Houston. I also served in the Command Center, Jail Division and Special Operations division before I joined the Gang Division where I served city-wide for five years in an investigative and uniform capacity throughout Houston.

I was promoted to Sergeant of Police in 2013 and returned to the Clear Lake area. I then transferred to the Midwest patrol area before I became the supervisor over the Mental Health Division Crisis Intervention Training Unit where I served until 2015. My most recent assignment was as an investigative sergeant in the Houston Police Auto Theft Division investigating cases throughout the city of Houston.

What should people know about crime in the Hobby area? Are there any trends?
People should be aware that the most common crimes reported in the Hobby Area are robberies, thefts, prostitution, and drug and gang-related crimes. Another crime to be familiar with is “jugging” where criminals wait in a bank parking lot or watch from across the street as people come and go who are carrying deposits or withdrawal envelopes to their home or business. Criminals follow unsuspecting citizens from the bank and rob them after they get out of their vehicle or break into the vehicle if it is left parked to search for the money.

How can business owners deter crime through preventative measures?
While surveillance cameras can be helpful identifying criminals after a crime has been committed, they are not a strong enough deterrent for a criminal with a plan and opportunity.

What I have suggested to my clients is to make sure your property is well lit, especially at night and in the early morning hours. Also, when you open or close your business it is best to work in pairs rather than schedule a single employee by themselves. The most effective safety measure would be to have high-quality armed security or police arrive 15 minutes before the business opens to make sure the perimeter of the property is secure and there is no suspicious activity in the immediate area. The same goes for when you are about to close your business, a security sweep 15 minutes ahead of closing time is ideal.

For businesses who do not have the budget for a security detail, I would suggest the business owner arrive early to their place of business and monitor the area for suspicious activity before entering the  business. Get to know your neighbors, residential or commercial, and watch each other’s property with an agreement to report anything suspicious to the police.

I also urge business owners and residents to submit Alert Slips to the Houston Police Dept. to request a patrol of your property at specific times. (Given the limited number of officer resources, officers will patrol requests as available in their down time when not responding to calls on duty. However, this is a great stop-gap measure that many citizens do not know about.)

More on CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design): https://www.houstontx.gov/police/multi_family/cpted16.htm

Check back soon for more from Ray Perez with the Marshall Agency on safety tips and crime prevention in the Hobby Area District.