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The “9 P.M. Routine” has become a regular fixture on the social media pages of law enforcement agencies across the United States, including the Granite Shoals Police Department. The safety campaign reminds residents to take preventive measures against theft and burglary before they go to bed. 

That routine is simple: 

  • remove all valuables from your car;
  • lock doors and windows;
  • don’t leave keys out in the open;
  • and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. 

The idea is to do it all by 9 p.m. to make your property unwelcome to criminals while you sleep.

“We live in the Hill Country, and it is a safe community, but we don’t want to create opportunities for crime,” Granite Shoals Police Chief John Ortis told

The GSPD Facebook page has consistently posted 9 P.M. Routine reminders since November 2023, when three cars were broken into on the same night in the small lakeside city. Another vehicle was stolen but later recovered. 

Ortis noted that most criminals are simply checking vehicle doors to see if they’re unlocked, but leaving valuables in the open can increase the risk of a break-in. Purses, wallets, shopping bags, electronics, firearms, tools, appliances, loose cash and change, or anything perceived as valuable can lure a potential thief.

Locking your home’s doors and windows is equally important. Thieves often seek out houses that are dark and seem unoccupied, Ortis said. They’re also looking for movable items like TVs, landscaping equipment, bicycles, and computers, which can be taken quickly and sold easily.

The 9 P.M. Routine officially started in 2016 with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and quickly swept across the country.

The 51-year-old Ortis says times have changed since people felt safe leaving their doors unlocked.

“Everybody my age and older, we left our keys in the car and never locked the front door,” he said.

Now, residents need to be vigilant, for themselves and their neighbors.

“In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to police themselves,” he said. “That means protecting ourselves and our property.”

9 P.M. Routine basics

From the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office

  • Create a habit of removing valuables from your car when you park to ensure your items are safe. Never leave shopping bags or merchandise visible in your car while you’re away. Lock expensive purchases out of sight in the trunk or take them home immediately before continuing shopping trips.
  • Many burglaries occur because a car or home was left unlocked, making it easy for criminals to steal belongings. Thieves commonly test a door to see if it’s unlocked and quickly move on when they’re not able to enter easily. Enabling your car’s alarm consistently, if equipped, is a good habit as well.
  • Easily accessible car keys are the simplest way for a criminal to steal a vehicle. Always remove the key or key fob from your car when you get out, even if parking in your own garage. Leaving car doors unlocked can provide other easy ways to access to your property, such as garage door openers. Never leave spare keys hidden within your car or near an entry point of your home, as criminals know where to look.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity you see to law enforcement immediately. Rapid reporting can help prevent your neighbors from becoming a victim. Be sure to provide the date and time you saw unusual activity and include as much information as possible to identify the suspect.