IF YOU ARE AWAY:
When away from home, it is important to give your home a lived-in look. Leave your car in the driveway, or ask a neighbor to park there. This not only gives the appearance of an occupied house, but prevents burglars from backing in a van and loading your possessions. Ask a neighbor to use your garbage cans. Leave drapes and shades open. Have someone take care of your lawn and shovel your driveway. Cancel the newspaper, but have a neighbor pick up the mail. Bulging mailboxes, closed drapes, dry uncut lawns and unplowed driveways say nobody's home. If you're going to be away, ash the Sheriff or local law enforcement agency to drive by periodically and check your property.
Join friends to prevent crime in your neighborhood. The Neighborhood Watch Program is an organized effort by concerned residents to look out for each other's safety and help law enforcement officers protect their neighborhood against criminals. Working together, neighbors learn to become more alert to unusual or suspicious individuals or vehicles. When these situations arise, they immediately call their local law enforcement agency.
If there is no Neighborhood Watch in your area, consider organizing one. Call your Sheriff for all the information and help you need to establish a successful Neighborhood Watch Program. Whatever the circumstance, whenever you notice unusual occurrences, call the Sheriff's Office. They will welcome your calls day or night.
TIPS TO SECURE YOUR HOME
SECURE PATIO AND GARAGE DOORS:
Sliding glass patio doors are a favorite entry point. Secure these doors by placing a steel bar in the door channel and a wooden wedge, secured by two or three screws, in the overhead track. This reduces the chance of someone lifting the door out of the channel.
Keep the garage door closed and locked when away from your home for an extended period. Disconnect electric doors and, if practical, consider installing padlocks on garage door tracks. These steps help protect valuable property stored in the garage and prevents easy access to interior doors.
INSTALL SOLID DOORS AND LOCKS:
Most burglars enter a home through a door. They also need to exit through a door when carrying your stolen items. It is easy to see why secure doors are a major burglary deterrent.
Install high quality solid core doors. A few well placed kicks can destroy some hollow core doors in less than five seconds. Upgrade your locks. Most homes are protected by an inexpensive and easy to use "spring latched lock." This lock provides no security. A dead bolt lock with a one inch bolt offers excellent protection. Insist on steel locks with a cylinder guard that will prevent the lock from turning if attacked with a pipe wrench or similar tool. Visit a reliable Locksmith. His advice can be invaluable.
LOCK ALL WINDOWS:
The noise and possible injury from broken glass will keep most burglars from breaking your windows. However, windows can be jimmied if a few simple precautions aren't taken. Inexpensive key latches can be purchased and easily installed to lock sash windows. If you own double sash windows, drill a small hole in both sashes. Placing a solid pin or nail into the hole will prevent the window from being opened.
PLAN INTERIOR LIGHTING:
Proper use of interior lighting can fool a burglar into thinking your house is occupied when empty or someone is awake when everyone is asleep. Install electric timers. Plug two or three lamps in different rooms into electric timers. Adjust the timers so lights turn on and off in different rooms at different times. When away from home, plug a timer into a television or radio. This gives the impression the house is occupied and someone is moving around.
FOR ADDITIONAL PROTECTION...... IDENTIFY YOUR VALUABLES!
It's almost impossible to recreate a list and condition of your valuables after the fact. Most burglary victims never receive full insurance reimbursement simply because they don't have enough information to submit an accurate claim.
TAKE AN INVENTORY. List valuable items and current condition and, if possible, dates of purchase and original prices. Use a camera (standard or VCR) to visually record your valuables. Record serial numbers of major appliances and electronic equipment. Store the inventory, pictures or video tape in your safe deposit box. Give a copy to your insurance agent. If you have a loss, proof of value can be established and an accurate claim can be filed. Do NOT keep cash in your home! There is no way to trace currency, so many insurance companies will not pay on cash claims.
If all else fails... What to do IF your home is burglarized.....
Immediately call the Sheriff and, if possible, leave the house. Don't wait a few hours or until the next day, CALL NOW! Waiting reduces the chance to recover your valuables. Do not move around the house and do not touch anything. Fingerprints and other important evidence might be disturbed. Cooperation will be very helpful.
*** See also "Operation Identification" and "Security Surveys" included with Neighborhood Watch Programs
Remember, you can be the burglar's best friend or worst enemy!
" Can Your Home Pass the 4 Minute Test? "
This test has only one question. However, the wrong answer can cost you and your family thousands of dollars, hours of frustration and the loss of precious family treasures!
CAN A BURGLAR BREAK INTO YOUR HOME WITHIN FOUR MINUTES?
Did you answer No? If so, congratulations! When a burglar can't enter your home in 4 minutes, he most often will go away. However, if he can, you could become one of over 5,000 American families whose homes will be burglarized within the next 24 hours. Seventeen burglaries will take place while you are reading this article.
Unfortunately, most American homes don't pass the 4 minute test. If yours can't, don't despair. This article, developed by your Sheriff, contains several easy, inexpensive ways to help secure your home and property from burglars. Also included are tips on what to do if your home is burglarized and ideas to improve the recovery of stolen property.
Keep a burglar out of your home for four minutes and the next burglary you hear about will probably be someone else's.
OUTSIDE YOUR HOME:
A burglar often avoids any home where he can be easily observed. Take a stroll around your house and look for good hiding places. Shrubbery next to basement windows and large branches near windows should be trimmed. Install a low wattage lighting system under the eaves. An inexpensive timer will automatically illuminate the shadows and hiding places. If you have a dog or an alarm system, put up signs that say so.