Advice on Burglary and Prevention

 Home Security Burglary Prevention

According to the FBI, a burglary occurs somewhere in the United States every 15.4 seconds. By far, the most common threat to our home is burglary. Burglary is a non-confrontational property crime that occurs when we are not at home.

Burglary in Buckner Terrace has decreased over the years possibly due to:

  • Increase number of burglar alarms system in homes
  • Installation of security cameras
  • Environmental Design such as perimeter enclosure (fence type and height) and landscaping
  • Police, and VIP presence
  • Nosy neighbors
  • Effective crime watch program.

The odds of becoming a burglary victim in Buckner Terrace is about 1 in 700 chance per month or about 1.5% per year. These odds can be significantly lower by taking a few steps to deter becoming a victim.  However, if you do become a burglary victim it can leave you and your family feeling vulnerable and violated.

  1. The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur when the house is unoccupied. Most occur during daytime workhours. Burglary incidents decline on Saturday and Sunday.
  2. The summer months of July and August have the most burglaries with February having the fewest crimes.
  3. Burglaries are committed most often by young males’ age 14 to 25 looking for items that can be easily converted to cash. They look for items like jewelry, guns, watches, i-pads, smart phones, laptop computers, video players, small power tools, and other small electronic devices. Prescription drugs containing opioids, stimulants, or tranquilizer are considered valuable.
  4. Bedrooms, family rooms, and restrooms are the prime target rooms. Bedrooms for jewelry, cash, and guns. Family room for electronic devices. Restrooms for drugs.
  5. Good place to store valuables are the kitchen—refrigerator, freezer, oven, dishwasher.
  6. 70% of the time burglars use some type of force to enter a house. The harder you make it for them to get in the less chance you have of being a victim.
  7. Usually small tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are used by burglars. These are easy to carry and conceal. In some cases they use item found in the yard like bricks, rocks, metal sprinklers, yard posts, etc.
  8. They usually leave through the garage and get away through the alley.
  9. It is estimated that only 10 to 12% of burglaries are cleared by police and rarely are the burglars catch in the act.

It is a myth that burglars randomly select a house to burglarize. Victims are selected based on what might be found inside the house, easiest access with the greatest amount of cover, with easy escape routes, and plenty of background noise.

Your job as a homeowner is to make your property as un-attractable as possible to burglars.  If it is too much work with a high chance of being detected the burglar(s) will look for an easier target.

Doors and Locks
The easiest method of entry into your home is via the front, back, or garage doors. Burglars will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools that they have with them. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest point of entry followed by the back door. Garage and back doors are prime targets since they also provide the most cover. Your car inside the garage will be searched for a key to the house and for a garage door opener.  Use high quality locks and a reinforced door between the garage and living quarters.

  • Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt
  • Use a quality, heavy-duty, knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism
  • Use a heavy-duty strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame
  • Use a wide-angle 180° peephole mounted no higher than 58 inches

The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb is to simply kick it open. The lock plate is the weakest point. The average door strike plate is secured only by the soft-wood doorjamb molding.

Make sure that your garage door opener release pull string is secure in order to prevent entry into the garage using this method of entry.
Sliding-Glass Patio Doors

Sliding glass doors are secured by flimsy, sometimes plastic, latches. Inserting a wooden dowel or stick into the track prevents or limits the movement of the sliding portion of the door.

The blocking devices described above solve half the equation.

  • Use a secondary blocking device on all sliding glass doors
  • Keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted
  • Keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted
  • Use anti-lift devices such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws
  • Use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals or block watch decal
  • Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs.

 Sliding Glass Windows

An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home being selected by a burglar.

Windows have latches, not locks and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside.

  • Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows.
  • In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes.
  • Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally.
  • The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position.
  • As a deterrent, place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification system is in place.
  • Secure all accessible windows with secondary blocking devices
  • Block accessible windows open no more than 6 inches for ventilation
  • Make sure someone cannot reach through an open window and unlock the door
  • Make sure someone cannot reach inside the window and remove the blocking device

Be a Good Neighbor
Know your neighbors. Nosey neighbors are the best deterrent for crime. Good neighbors look out for each other.

Good neighbors can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away. Good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing vendors to mow your lawn or perform other services like cleaning the pool.  They can also put some trash in your garbage can giving the appearance that someone is home.  Good neighbors will occasionally park in your driveway to give the appearance that someone is home. They can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can check the outside or inside of your home to see that all is well.

This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called territoriality which means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood.

This concept works in both single family homes communities and on apartment properties. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Get to know all your adjacent neighbors. The following are ideas to use to foster a good neighbor relationship.

  • Invite them into your home and establish trust
  • Agree to watch out for each other’s home
  • Do small tasks for each other to improve territoriality
  • While on vacation – pick up newspapers, and flyers
  • Offer to occasionally park your car in their driveway
  • Return the favor and communicate often

 Let there be LIGHT
A darken home night-after-night sends the message to burglars that you are away on a trip. Empty garbage cans in the alley also indicate that the home is empty.

  • Light timers are inexpensive and can be found everywhere.
  • They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you’re away. In this way, you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted home becomes dark.
  • Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains closed.
  • The pattern of lights turning on and off should simulate actual occupancy.
  • It’s also comforting not to have to enter a dark residence when you return home.
  • Exterior lighting is also very important.
  • Light timers can be used to turn on music to further enhance the illusion of occupancy.

The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path. Exterior lighting needs to bright enough to light the area. Criminal like dark surrounds, therefore, good bright lighting is a must to deter criminal activity. The entry way into your house must be illuminated.

  • The practice of leaving the garage or porch lights turned on all day on a single family home is a dead giveaway that you are out of town.
  • Exterior lighting on the front of a property should always be on a timer to establish a routine and appearance of occupancy at all times.
  • Common area lighting on apartment properties should also be on a timer or photo-cell to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn.

Security lights with PID (Proximity Infrared Detectors)  sensors are relatively inexpensive now-a-days and can replace an exterior porch light or side door light on single-family homes. The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute.

These security lights are highly recommended for single-family homes.

  • Use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy
  • Exterior lighting should allow 100- feet of visibility
  • Use good lighting along the pathway and at your door
  • Use light timers or photo-cells to turn on/off lights automatically
  • Use PID motion sensor lights on the rear of single family homes

 Alarm Systems
If used properly, audible alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are effective when set.  Alarms systems deter burglaries because they increase the chances of being detected and increase the chances of being arrested by the police.

Residents need to advertise that they have an alarm system in their home. Yard signs and decals are effective ways to let criminals know that the property is alarmed. Home burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs and will go to another property without such a sign.

All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in. Burglars know that when an alarm goes off that the police will be called and will respond to an active alarm code. Home alarms, like car alarms, are generally ignored by the public. However, your good neighbor will respond to your alarm. It is not unusual to have a neighbor wait for the police, allow them inside for an inspection, and secure the residence.

  • The greatest barrier getting to this level of neighborhood participation is taking the first step.
  • You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You’ll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there.
  • Alarm systems are effective deterrents with visible signage
  • Register you alarm system with the police.
  • Activate your alarm every—I repeat ”every” —time you leave your home.  It only takes several minutes to get burglarized.
  • Alarm systems need to be properly installed, programmed, periodically tested,  and maintained.
  • Alarm systems need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective
  • Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date
  • Instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell

Operation Identification
This is a program supported by most police agencies. They recommend that you engrave your drivers’ license, on televisions, stereos, computers, and small electronic appliances. Invisible infrared marks are also available to mark your possessions.  They suggest this so they can identify and locate you if your stolen items are recovered.

It is also recommend that you photograph your valuables in their locations around your home and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers. This is very important for proof when filing insurance claims.

You should keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative for safe keeping. Keep receipts of the larger items in case you need to prove the value of the items for insurance purposes.

All of the above can be done on an electronic program called “report it”.  You can list your possessions along with picture and invoice attachments.  If items are stolen you can generate a list with photographs of the items for the police.

It is also recommend that you photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet. You will be thankful that you took these steps in case your home is ever destroyed by fire or flood, is ransacked, or if your wallet is lost or stolen. Keep these photocopies in a safety deposit box or in a safe place away from your house.

  • Identify your valuables by either engraving or marking your drivers’ license number on each item
  • Photograph and record the serial numbers of all valuables
  • Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other important documents
  • Store the copies in a safe deposit box or with a trusted relative

 Home Safes
Having a safe in your home is a wise investment. Home safes are designed to keep the smash and grab burglar, nosey kids, dishonest babysitter or housekeeper from gaining access to important documents and personal property. Home safes need to be anchored to the floor or permanent shelving.

  • Use the safe every day so it becomes routine
  • Protect the safe code and change it occasionally
  • Install it away from the master bedroom or closet
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