Monday, March 8, 2010

Urban Security

Home invasion and burglary are on the rise. Unless you're dealing with a crackhead or some other type of lunatic, most of these crimes are committed by thugs who don't want to be seen or heard. They tend to operate under the cover of darkness, or during the day when they are sure nobody is at home. To ensure success, they will often case the target house beforehand, trying to figure out the best time and the approach that offers the most concealment. 

Watch for people going door-to-door, because this is a favored method for burglars to determine if someone is home. Call 9-1-1 and report any door-to-door activity in your neighborhood. Also, call to report any unknown or unfamiliar vehicles traveling slowly or parked in your neighborhood. Burglars look for a residence with easy access and low visibility to keep them from being seen when entering through a window or when kicking in the door.

There are steps you can take to make your house less attractive to a burglar.
  • Take a good look at your home and identify vulnerabilities. Stand across the street and think to yourself, "How could I break in?" Look for structural or landscaping designs that visually block the entrances to your home, making it easy for a burglar to approach without being seen.
  • Trim back trees, shrubs, or bushes that are near windows or doors where a burglar could hide.
  • Solid fences provide privacy for everyone, including the person breaking into your house. If you have a fence or are thinking about building one, consider styles such as wrought iron, chain link, or separated board that allows visual access to your property.
  • Some burglars prefer to work in the dark. If you are away from home for an evening, leave a light on inside the house. If you are away for an extended period, make arrangements for your lights to come on periodically (automatic timers, etc.). 
  • Use motion sensor exterior lights to illuminate your porch, sidewalks, and other access routes. Properly placed and functioning lights remove shadows and illuminate the potential suspect.
  • Alarm systems that switch on lights and make loud noise will often frighten away intruders.
Police departments rely on private citizens to act as eyes and ears, so you should call anytime, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, if you see suspicious or criminal activity.  Get to know your neighbors and start a Block Watch program in your neighborhood. Block Watch is a commitment between you and your neighbors to watch out for and report suspicious or criminal activity to the police. The overall goal is for the entire neighborhood to become unattractive to burglars.

Between having an active Block Watch (with signs posted), and making simple changes such as additional lighting, shrub removal and fence design, you can go can go a long way toward making your home and neighborhood safer.

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