Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's That Time of Year

Summertime is burglary season, especially around holiday weekends like this one. Yesterday, we received a call from the county sheriff's office, warning us that there have been four burglaries in the past five days in our part of the county and asking us to be hyper vigilant this weekend. Believe me, we have been. I spent several hours yesterday (as a leader in our Neighborhood Watch association), calling people and updating the neighborhood phone list.

Having a Neighborhood Watch sign on your mailbox does not prevent you from becoming victims of a crime. One year ago, just weeks after hanging our sign, we were burglarized as we slept! The thieves got into our garage and helped themselves. Along with a cooler full of beer, some camping equipment, and sunglasses from Mr.4444's truck, they stole my purse (which I had left in my car.) After leaving our house, they broke into five other garages down the street. Police soon caught one of the thieves (with my purse, among other items), but not before he had fenced most of the valuables.

To say that losing my purse was an inconvenience is an understatement. Although I cancelled all of the credit cards in time, I am still replacing things that were in the purse. The police have my purse, but they cannot show it to me or tell me what was in it, for some stupid reason, so I just have had to figure it out on my own. For example, when I arrived at a hotel in California last week, I remembered that my AAA card was in the stolen purse. As a matter of fact, when packing for my trip, I looked for my "summer purse" 20 minutes before realizing that it, too, had been stolen last summer (I had two in the car, because I was in the process of switching from one to the other.) I've had to replace every single one of my store "frequent buyer" cards, library card, insurance cards, etc. Grrrr!

Unfortunately, the court process is long; the thief was just sentenced last week. However, I still don't have my purse back; "It's evidence." They finally caught the second suspect (recently), but (Surprise!) he claims that he wasn't involved. They now need to fingerprint everything in my purse, so I guess I won't be seeing it for another year.

I'd like to take this time to give you some valuable advice to protect your home from burglars.

*Never leave valuables (purses, GPS, etc.) in your car in your garage.

*Make sure your garage service door has a deadbolt lock.

*Always lock your door that leads into your house from the garage.

*Take your car keys into the house. (I'm told you can press the Panic button from inside your house, scaring burglars away, should they decide to break in when you are home.)

*Install security lights that turn on when there is movement outside your house

*Inventory your valuables with a camera, and put the list/photos in a safe place (NOT on your computer.)

*Back up your important computer files to a flashdrive or external hard drive (in case a thief takes your computer)

*Don't leave your outside lights on when you go on vacation (if you can help it). Lights on during broad daylight send a signal that you are not home to turn them off. See if you can put them on a timer or ask a neighbor/friend to turn them on for you.

*If you're expecting a package but won't be home to receive it, ask a neighbor to watch for it. Nothing says, "Nobody's home" like a big package on your doorstep all weekend.

*Notice unfamiliar vehicles in your neighborhood. Even if you think it's "probably nothing," write the license plate/vehicle type down; this is how the thief who stole our stuff was caught; people reported seeing his car. Report suspicious vehicles to your local police department.

The county detective who called yesterday told us that the current thieves have been breaking into homes through patio doors with a crowbar or other burglary tool, totally smashing door frames. The burglars are striking mostly during the day and are completely ransacking homes in search of valuables (including guns).

This is, of course, unsettling. I've told the kids that if someone comes to the door when their dad or I are not home, they should answer it and, if necessary, tell the person that we are at the neighbor's. I know you might say not to answer the door, but I do not want someone who is casing my house to think that we are not home and then come busting in when the kids are alone. If I go somewhere and don't take the kids, I will have them put their bikes on the driveway, to hopefully signal that someone is home.

I hate to have to worry about this stuff, but there's no way around it; it's burglary season. Take steps to protect your home and family.

P.S. I've thought about this some more and have changed my mind. I won't have the kids answer the door. They should instead just watch to see who the person was (when they walk away from the front door) and see what they do afterwards. They can always call for help if the person doesn't leave.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your 2 cents...