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Simple Tips to help make your home SAFER from criminal activity

 

Burglary, Robbery or Home Invasion....It could never happen to me....I live in a safe neighborhood!!  That's what most victims of crimes have said.....Until it has happened to them!

If you, a family member, or a neighbor has ever said this, that could be your wake-up call. Criminal activity occurs on a daily and nightly basis, and it usually happens to unsuspecting persons that have "let their guard down" at their own residence. Many crimes are occuring in some of the "safest" neighborhoods. Primarily, just because this kind of criminal activity does not occur in our area (the most common mistake that one can realize). Nowadays, many criminals "recognize" a safe neighborhood, as to where an easy illegal entry has just become a dream come true for them. Your residence is your comfort zone, and we are about to give you some simple, affordable and effective tips to maintain this expected comfort zone.

The tips below are not meant to replace security and/or security devices, but will certainly add to them, ensuring a good night's sleep. One important thing to consider, whether inside or outside of the home, is situational awareness. Know what is going on around you at all times.

Immediately report any suspicious activity to your local Law Enforcement Agency (CALL 9-1-1), no matter how minor it may seem to you, regardless if your Law Enforcement Agency has suffered staffing decreases due to budget cuts. If it looks out of the normal, it probably is. It is worth passing the information on to Law Enforcement. Law Enforcement may investigate, provide additional patrols, or note the occurrences. If it is safe to do so, write down important information (or enter it into your cell phone) such as license plate, vehicle description and suspect description (including clothing description) and direction of travel. If you are dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular phone, be advised that the call may be routed to another Law Enforcement Agency, which may result in a transfer to your local agency. It is a good idea to have the "local emergency number" programmed in to your cell phone.

Dogs may be an effective deterrance for a criminal. However, not everybody wants a dog. They require loving, attention and maintenance. In this case, just as an example, an elderly woman or single woman attempting to deter a burglar, robber or rapist, it may be a good idea to have a large (chewed up) dog bone with an empty and somewhat dirty (but not dusty) dog dish near the entrance.

 

TIPS TO HELP SECURE YOUR HOME  

  

Always keep your doors locked (including the front door, side/rear doors, and the door from your garage into your house). Do not rely on a screen door to keep an intruder out.  It will not happen.

Always keep your windows locked.  If it is the time of year where you wish to have a window open for circulation, be sure to have the window open no more than about 3 inches (an arms reach), and you must have some kind of secure window locking device behind the window frame channel, or a solid  dowel, such as a 1/4" to 1/2" round wooden or metal dowel. Some criminals have been able to get an arm partially inside, while using another device to remove any window channel obstructions. It is absolutely critical to keep children's windows secure at all times, particularly at night (even on a second story dwelling).

Never leave your side garage door open or unsecured, particularly at night. This is a very easy method for a criminal to gain access to your home, without you even knowing that they have entered (until it is too late). Place an additional deadbolt or hinge-lock on the side garage door.  Many criminals often "kick-in" a side door. Consider adding additional strength to your door frame. Consider adding a "swimming pool audible door type of alarm" to your side garage door. This is very inexpensive, and may deter a criminal real quick, once an audible alarm has been activated.

For roll-up garage doors, be sure to cut the handle off of the emergency latch release.  Some criminals have used this handle to their advantage.

Always be sure that any side/front/rear gates are secured with a padlock before dark, and particularly before bedtime.

Be sure that you have a "peep-hole" on your front door (preferably wide-angled).  Use the peep-hole at all times.  Do not open a door with a chain "lock" attached.  A criminal can kick in a door, and bypass this chain lock in about 2 seconds. Instruct family members (and particularly children) to never open the door for somebody that they do not know, even if the person at the door is representing themself as a utility repair or service technician, or delivery person (or even an unknown neighbor). Never open the door for somebody that wishes to use the phone. Advise this person that you can call Law Enforcement to assist them.

Avoid having unknown persons in your house.  Avoid transactions such as "Craigslist buyers" within your home.  If asked to use the restroom, make up an excuse, and direct them to a public restroom nearby.  

Be aware that during darkness, if you have your window shades open, it is easy for a criminal to view everything in the house, while it may be difficult for you to see outside. You probably will not even know that they are outside. It is best to have your shades closed during darkness. It is suggested to have all shades closed, when the particular room has little or no activity during daylight hours. Many criminals "case the home" before they make their entry.  Sometimes this planning is weeks in advance, and sometimes it is a spur of the moment.

Use motion sensor lighting devices for any entrance (front/rear/sides).  If you have neighbors, avoid the light shining into their windows.  Pets, wildlife and some insects may "trip" a light sensor late at night or early in the morning. There are inexpensive motion detectors/flood lights available. If you do not have motion sensor lighting, place an energy efficient bulb in the socket, and turn it on during darkness.

For vehicles stored in a driveway, street (or location other than the garage), never leave your garage door opener in the vehicle, or leave any keys to the residence inside the vehicle. Avoid leaving a spare key to any vehicle (inside the vehicles), to avoid vehicle theft. Keep your windows rolled up, even in the summer time.  Avoid keeping anything in plain sight, such as change, cd's, cigarette packs, GPS devices, or anything that will attract the attention of somebody that can throw a rock through the window, and usually grab items of value, and go unnoticed until the next day. It may seem of little value to you, but may be a treasure to a criminal.

If you utilize an alarm system for your residence, enable the door chime before going to bed. Ask your alarm company if you are able to program an emergency duress code to signal an emergency to your alarm company.  If possible, do not rely solely on a panic button. An armed intruder may force you to disable any alarm, and this duress code will disable the alarm, while notifying your alarm company of an emergency.

Identify a "safe room" with easy access from all bedrooms, in the event of an emergency.  This room should be secured with a locking door (preferably solid-core door with reinforced frame).  You should have access to a telephone at all times in this room. All family members should be aware of this room, and all family members (including children) should practice a drill with you at least every 6 months (when changing smoke detector batteries, such as Spring and Fall time changes). If you own weapons for self defense, there should be a securely mounted safe in this room (with easy access for authorized persons).  You should store at least one flashlight in this room, and replace the batteries as needed.  There are inexpensive emergency lighting "night lights" which remain charged, and light up during a power failure.

Always have a padlock on your exterior electrical service panel (fuse box).  A combination lock is suggested, in the event that a key holder is not present and a fuse is tripped. It should be very rare that you must enter a fuse panel.  If you are resetting tripped fuses, you should contact an electrician immediately, to avoid a structure fire. If a criminal shuts off your main power, they may have an immediate advantage over you and your family.  

Place a "No Soliciting" sign on your front door.  Avoid opening your door for "door-to-door salespersons" which may be in disguise, and maybe even possibly casing your neighborhood or your house. 

Avoid leaving children's toys out in front.  Not only may the items be stolen, but this could lure a sexual predator.

Avoid leaving bicycles, scooters, skateboards (or anything of value) out front.  These items may eventually get stolen. If not today, they may come back for them tomorrow.

Be sure to bring in your trash bins as soon as possible, after the garbage truck picks up the trash. If all of your neighbors cans are put away, and yours is on the street, this tells a criminal that there may not be anybody home. Another easy target to case.

If you will be away from your residence for any length of time, you should have pre-set light timers to make it appear that your house is occupied. Or a family member or trusted neighbor entering your home, to make it appear that the home is occupied.  

If you receive delivered newspapers, be sure to retrieve them as soon as possible.  Many criminals have learned that if there are newspapers left out (even just one newspaper may be an easy invite), there may exist an easy target for them.  Multiple newspapers left in the driveway will catch their attention even much quicker. If you are not home when the papers are being delivered, ask a good neighbor to pick it up, and place it an a good location, out of the view of the motoring public or solicitor. Most newspaper subscriptions have "vacation stops" to avoid this. Check with the circulation department.  The U.S. Post Office also has "vacation stops". If you are expecting a delivery from (UPS or FedEx), call in advance to have the delivery routed to your local pick-up center. Many solicitors may attach fliers, bags, coupons or magazines to your front door.  Some persons do not use their front door, and only their garage door, and may never notice these materials.  Be sure to check your front door for these types of materials left without your knowledge.  If you will be gone for any period of time (vacation, overnight trips), ask a good neighbor, family member or Law Enforcement to keep an eye on your house. Many Law Enforcement Agencies may provide a "vacation check" with the use of volunteers or sworn personnell. Otherwise, there may be a private security company which may offer this service at a minimal cost.

 

Many residential burglaries or home invasions (robberies) occur for many different reasons, everyday.  Here is an example of just a few: 

#1)  (RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY) - "Michael" is an outstanding citizen and a responsible gun owner, and he has three children living at his home, aged from 8 to 17.  Michael lives in an upscale community, with little to no crime in the neighborhood. He secures his weapons in a little safe, within his master bedroom closet shelf. One of his children brag to another child at school, that dad has guns at home, and they went to the range the other day and had fun target shooting.  A few days later, while Michael is at work one day, and nobody is at home, Michael's home gets burglarized, and his entire safe is stolen, along with some jewelry and petty cash in a dresser drawer.  The child at school has told his older brother that Michael is usually gone all day, and there are guns at his home. The first place that the criminal (older brother of the kid at school) looks is the master bedroom, expecting to find some guns and maybe other valuables.  The safe is approximately 14" x 10" x 8".  The criminal walks out with it, stuffed in his backpack, along with some watches and other jewely.  He later breaks into the safe, and finds a weapon, which is later sold on the streets for $50.00.  This was preventable in many fashions. However, he could have had his safe securely bolted, to at least help deter the criminal from making off with it and stuffing it into his backpack.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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