Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Protect Your Home during the Holidays

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. The FBI also says that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. during November and December each year. 

And what does this mean for us during the holiday season when so many of us will be traveling or deftly placing copious amounts of presents under our trees? It means we need to do a better job of protecting our home during this time and, quite frankly, year-round as well.

Criminals want to relieve you of your valuables and are certainly out looking for easy opportunities to do so, especially during the holidays.

Recently, you've heard reports in the media about suspects stealing packages from doorsteps and residential burglaries targeting those of certain ethnic backgrounds. Those investigations are still on-going but, in the midst of all that, we want to point out that the total number of residential burglaries is down significantly compared to last year.

In 2012, the Overland Park Police Department took 406 residential burglary reports. Through December 18 of this year, we are sitting at 292 as compared to 398 during the same time period last year.

What can you do to protect your house during this time and avoid becoming another statistic? See below:

Have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers. 
During an extended vacation, make arrangements to have someone mow your lawn, shovel snow, or trim your bushes. 
Leave lights on automatic timers. 
Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by your house periodically; have them open and close blinds, turn on different lights. 
Let your neighbors know when you are leaving and when you plan to return home and if you are expecting anybody at your house while you are away. 
Burglars want easy access to your home. Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed near all doors and windows where intruders might hide. Add exterior lights and consider lights that are activated by motion sensors.
Burglars like to work quickly, so try to slow down their path into and around the house. You can accomplish this with:
1. deadbolt locks 
2. window locks 
3. bars placed in the tracks or track locks on all sliding glass doors and windows (if they would not impede your escape in an emergency) 
4. locks on all doors and windows  Seems redundant to me.
Don't record the fact you are gone on your telephone answering machine. 
Don't broadcast the fact that you'll be away on Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, in your blog or anywhere else on the Internet.
Don't hide your keys on your property. 
A nosy neighbor is a burglar's worst enemy. Get to know your neighbors and work out an arrangement to watch each other's houses. Let them know when you will be gone and whether any deliveries are expected during your absence. 
Store jewelry and other valuables in a safe hiding place, such as a safety deposit box. 
Go through each room and write down a list of possessions, including serial numbers. Take pictures of your valuables and keep them in a safe place or with a friend or relative. This will help in the event of a burglary.