(Last month, the NFH published an article by Alli Griffin on crime statistics in Falcon. This is a follow up on safeguarding homes from burglaries and break-ins.)
Safeguarding family members and household valuables is a priority for all homeowners. Burglaries and break-ins can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Sgt. Joseph Roybal from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Dave Easley, owner of Black Forest Home Security Systems, offered suggestions on preventing home invasions.
“Most home invasions happen during daylight, because criminals do not want to deal with people,” Roybal said. Because many people work outside of the home all day and homes are often unattended while families are on vacation, the exterior of a house needs to be secure and unappealing to potential perpetrators.
Roybal’s suggestions are simple yet essential. Keep all bushes trimmed so the house is visible. Install good outdoor lighting and make sure all the lights work. Use window coverings so criminals cannot see inside the home. Make sure all locks are working properly; and, if necessary, use backups like a wooden dowel for sliding glass doors.
Easley recommended installing cylinder deadbolts and a lock bolt on sliding glass doors. Do not leave keys to those locks in the house when no one is home. He said once inside a home thieves look for an easy way out to tote the homeowner’s valuables. If they only have a small window as an escape route because all doors are locked from the inside, many will immediately leave the house without taking anything.
Exterior doors need to have a solid core and a deadbolt, Roybal said. The deadbolt must have screws at least 1 inch long.
Roybal and Easley said alarms are a strong deterrent to home invaders. “A monitored alarm drops your chance of burglary down to one-third of that for homes without an alarm system,” Easley said. “Just one house having an alarm brings the whole neighborhood crime down – because criminals see that one house has an alarm, then other homes in the area might as well. It can also lower your insurance.” Post signs that indicate the house are equipped with an alarm system, he said.
Don’t be obvious that no one is home. Timers for lights give the illusion that someone is home, Easley said. When gone for a longer period of time, have a neighbor or friend pick up the mail or have the post office hold it. When it snows, ask the neighbor to leave tire tracks in the driveway so it looks like someone is home, he said. Getting to know the neighbors is important to home safety issues. Often, neighbors will keep an eye on a house when they know someone is at work or not home for an extended period. And neighborhood-watch teams can be “the eyes and ears for law enforcement,” Roybal said.
Adopting safe habits around the house is important. Always acknowledge when someone is knocking on the door, although it doesn’t mean opening the door to a stranger. Easley said a closed-circuit television can be installed to monitor visitors and video tape break-ins.
Also, Roybal said when pulling into the garage, stay in the vehicle until the garage door closes. If there are signs of a break-in or someone lurking inside; don’t go into the house – immediately call the police, he said. And never confront or chase the perpetrator.
Roybal suggested that residents develop a safety plan for their individual homes, which includes a safe room. “If you hear someone in your house, go to the safe room and call police,” he said.
Of course, a dog can be man’s best friend when it comes to deterring criminals, Roybal said. And don’t forget to post that “beware of dog” sign.
Contact the crime prevention coordinator at the sheriff’s office for more information: 719-520-7151.