Q: I hear that often times crime increases in summer months. Are there any recommendations of how I can make my home safer?
A: With summer vacation season upon us, along with the urge to leave our homes open for the fresh air, we are definitely reminded of the need to revisit our home security steps. Often homeowners inadvertently make it easy for criminals to burglarize their homes. In fact, many “break-ins” are actually “walk-ins” as a result of homeowners leaving their doors or windows unlocked or open.
Always secure each door and window before leaving your home, including the garage door. We have taken many police reports from residents who left their home unlocked or a window open. They tell us they were gone for only a short time to pick up someone or go to the store, only to find that upon their return, the home was burglarized. This is a result of someone in the area watching the neighborhood when you leave. One of the best deterrents to criminal activity like this is to take the same approach retailers take, “kill them with kindness.” Should you see anyone suspicious or someone you are not familiar with, find a way to acknowledge them and let them know you see them. Wave, say “hello,” ask them how their day is going. If they are up to no good and had bad intentions, the suspicious person will realize they could be recognized and will hopefully leave. Should you still feel uncomfortable or concerned, please call our dispatch so they can send an available officer to contact them and find out what they are doing.
When going on vacation, do not give the house a feeling of not being occupied. Piled up newspapers and an overflowing mailbox are telltale signs that no one is home. Either have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers or have them stopped temporarily. Put timers on indoor lights to give the illusion that someone is home. Also, with the onset of social media, do not share the news of your vacation on Facebook or Twitter until after you have returned from your trip.
Do not leave a house key under your doormat or above the threshold. This has been a practice for many years and criminals know it. If that is what you do, you may as well leave the door open. If you have a security system, use it. Recent surveys have shown less than half of homeowners with a security system activate it when they leave the home.
Concealing the boundary of your house may give you privacy, but it also does the same for the criminal once he gets onto your property. Tall hedges, walls and fences can often give thieves cover to do their dirty work. With their actions concealed from the street and neighbors, they have the ability to work without distractions and the chance of being seen by others.
In addition to locking all the doors and windows and setting your security system alarm, be sure to close the blinds, shutters or curtains to prevent criminals from looking into your home and seeing what may be inside. Criminals, if given the chance, will consider forcing their way into a home based on what they see and hope for additional items of value to take.
Also, become sociable with your neighbors and let them know if you are having work done on your home and when it is complete. There have been times when work trucks or moving vans pull up to a home with the intention of looking legitimate, when they are in fact burglarizing the home. If you see a work truck or van at a neighbor’s home, call the owner and ask if any work is being done. Or, call the police and we can speak to the workers and verify if the work being done is legitimate.
Please don’t forget to also secure your garage door. Many times residents will leave their garage doors open during the day while the kids ride their bikes, or while they are working in the backyard. Remember that if it is an attached garage, there is unobstructed access to the main residence through the garage door. If unattached, you still have many personal items that are visible to anyone walking by.
Too many times after a burglary occurs, we often hear the following types of comments from neighbors, “I thought they looked suspicious.” Or, “I was going to call the police, but I figured someone else would.” The bottom line is that the police cannot be there all the time. We as a community need be neighborly and look out for each other. If you see something or someone acting suspicious, do not ignore it. Call our dispatch at (310) 458-8491.
If we are going to stop crime, we need to do it together.
This column was prepared by NRO Jeff Glaser, Beat 3 (Downtown, including the Third Street Promenade). He can be reached at (424) 200-0683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.