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Old 12-16-2009, 07:12 PM   #21
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The one time i called the cops to report i would be gone (puffed up little college student that i was) I got ripped off. This was in Santa Fe NM many many years ago. Can't even remember what they stole - cops came out and sprinkled carbon dust or some such all over the place "dusting for prints". The funny thing was i didn't think they would visit - when they said they were coming out i had to run and hide my smoke out in the desert. Could have made the files of America's dumbest victims! I'm with the if they want it it's gone crowd - and it doesn't even have to be worth much - had parts stripped off an old Mustang around the same time and we're talking $10 junkyard battery, junkyard mismatched tires, that sort of thing. With the rise of meth head thieves reason plays no part at all.
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:46 PM   #22
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We had a small crime spree in our residential neighborhood in the western suburbs of Chicago last year. 3 or 4 break-ins over a few months. The PD sent letters to everyone inviting us to a meeting at townhall to discuss, so I went.

Very interesting. The PD took the position that "neighbor awareness" was the biggest deterent to break-ins. They encouraged us to meet and talk with neighbors we didn't know. Despite being here for 32 yrs, this applied to me since other than the houses on each side of us, the other neighbors are relative newcomers being here only a few years, maybe a decade. Then they went on to plead for us to:

1. Call the PD if we see any activity such as a van parked in a driveway that looks suspicious or someone walking through yards. There shouldn't be anyone just loitering or walking around checking things out.

2. Call the PD if a solicitor rings your bell and doesn't have a permit clipped on. The town is very stingy with these permits. Ringing bells like a salesman is apparently a classic way to give your front door a good once-over.

3. Work with your neighbors to watch each other's houses. Since our immediate neighbors on either side are long time friends and we're familar with each other's habits and schedules, this works well for us.

4. Don't accept strangers being in the area because you're embarrassed to call the PD. (They emphasized that again and again.) If something doesn't look right, call. Someone casing the area being challenged by the local PD apparently is discouraging to them. Crooks prefer neighborhoods where folks reside anonomously and strangers move about unquestioned.

All this changed some of my responses to things I see. I've called to report solicitors with no permit several times and it's satisfying to see a police cruiser picking them up within a few minutes to give them a ride out of town. They probably check their ID too, but I don't know for sure. And I called when a plumbing company van was parked in my neighbor's driveway across the street one afternoon. I know they both work and the two kids are in day care. That turned out to be legit but the officer who came out told me repeatedly to do the same thing if it happens again.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:32 AM   #23
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Very interesting. The PD took the position that "neighbor awareness" was the biggest deterent to break-ins. They encouraged us to meet and talk with neighbors we didn't know.

All this changed some of my responses to things I see. I've called to report solicitors with no permit several times and it's satisfying to see a police cruiser picking them up within a few minutes to give them a ride out of town.
DING! DING! DING! (CFB, your royalty check is in the mail)

Cops dig getting calls on suspicious people. Even when it's a totally bogus thing (although we may roll our eyes a little and laugh about you later), it's what we do. Given a choice between jacking up a potential burglar and writing six burglary reports after the fact, we always opt for jacking some dude up. Even if he doesn't go to the gray bar hotel, just checking him out beats paperwork all hollow.

Okay, burglary 101 sez that most burglars are usually sneaky bastards with a drive that makes them take bold action (usually the need to hit the pipe on a regular basis). Most of them learn their trade the same way most of us learned ours, by learning from others and then on-the-job training. Most burglars figure out what works and then they stick with that. I'll be lazy and cut and paste something that I wrote for another forum:
Quote:
...you're correct that not all burglars are lazy or stupid, in fact, many of them are neither. But while sophisticated burglars will have sophisticated methods, they don't run to the overly complicated. Burglaries, especially residential, are easy to commit; and, successful burglars go with what works and don't try to reinvent the wheel.

The rules to being a proficient burglar have always been to not be seen, to stay away from occupied residences, and pick places that are easy to get into without being observed. With computerized fingerprint databases become more common, a smart burglar knows to wear something over his hands to keep from leaving identifiable latent prints behind. With surveillance cameras everywhere I would think that hiding one's face might become mandatory as well.

A sophisticated burglar is one who does an excellent job on target selection. Mostly obeying the three rules above, but it can also mean picking targets where it is known (or believed) he can find high dollar items for which he has a ready market. He'll also be really proficient in making a quick entry and he'll go directly to where he can find what he's looking for (people always put stuff in the same places, even the stuff they're trying to hide) get it and get gone.
There is no place that is burglar-proof, the best you can hope for is to deter him from hitting your casa and going on to burglarize your neighbors' house. By knowing what Mr. Burglar is looking for in a target, and what he doesn't want to see, you can encourage him to take his dope-fiend self on down the street to greener pastures.

You want Mr. Burglar to look at your place with his experienced eye and mumble to himself "Ah, that's too big a pain in the butt".

Alarm systems can be a decent deterrent, but know that many, many, many burglars are not afraid of residential alarms. They know, as do cops, that 95% +/- of residential alarm calls are no good. So that means that cops (unlike what the alarm company commercials depict), don't throw that donut down and jump up to run with lights and siren to your alarm going off. The burglars know that in spite of the alarm going off they have a good bit of time to do the deed and get away.

I have an alarm system for two reasons: To deter the easily deterrable and to wake me up if the very rare cat-burglar comes along (or the not-quite-so-rare-anymore home invasion robbery goes down). I want a few seconds to grab a gun and be prepared to defend the family and I dread the idea of waking up to a gun in my face.

Hardened entry/exit points are a must. Good solid doors, with good locks, set in a strong frame are a must. Double cylinder deadbolt locks, with a "throw" of at least 1 inch (about the best you will ever find is 1") in a sold door (not hollow core) is good. How to Buy Door and Window Locks | eHow.com

For windows accessible from the ground floor I recommend secondary window locks.

Sliding glass doors are a gift to burglars everywhere. They are easily secured, but many people never bother and thus you might as well have a sign on it proclaiming "Welcome Thieves!" How to Secure a Sliding Glass Door - Associated Content - associatedcontent.com

Whatever locks you have - make sure you actually use them. You would be surprised how many people who live in homes with attached garages will leave the door leading from the garage into the house unlocked. Burglars know this and they know how to get into your garage. Leaving the door unlocked for them is guaranteed to make you feel foolish later.

Good neighbors who will keep an eye on your place and call the police if they see something suspicious are a fabulous thing. When to Call the Police / Police Department / Decatur, Alabama, USA

Do an inventory of your stuff and maintain a copy off premises. This is good policy in case of any kind of loss (fire, storm, flood) and not just burglaries. With an inventory you can make a more accurate and complete claim to the insurance company. You would be surprised how many people suffer a loss and don't have a clue about the make or model of many items. Having an inventory with a list of serial numbers is bestest of all - most police departments monitor what is sold/pawned in their area and check serial numbers against state/national databases of stolen property. Without a serial number your stolen TV will never make it into a database.

Doing an inventory might also make you realize that you have some high-value items in certain categories that are above the schedule for insurance reimbursement (jewelry often requires an inexpensive rider to boost the covered value).

If you want to be a real crime-prevention nerd you can inscribe your driver's license number on high value and/or easily pawned items that don't have serial numbers (like tools). Make sure to include the state abbreviation, my tools all are marked: TX DL 123456789. That way, if a police officer runs across some dirtbag with your non-serialized stuff, he can run your name as a complainant and see what was stolen in your burglary, or he can even contact you and ask about your drill and Craftsman wrenches that he ran across.

Here's a bonus that I learned from another detective when I went to his house to play cards. On his front door he had a homemade sign:
Quote:
Shift worker/Daytime sleeper. Please don't ring bell or knock!
If you want more help, check with the police as most agencies have crime prevention officers who will come to your home to evaluate it and give you specific recommendations. In many states, if you meet the standards you get a certificate that is good for a mandatory discount on your homeowner's insurance premium.
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:56 AM   #24
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We're getting some invaluable information here...so many thanks!
When I lived in Bellaire (inside Houston city limits separate city), I did have the Police out to check for safety AND they did offer an engraver to mark your stuff. I wonder if this is standard operating procedure for most communities? I loved it, anyway.
And when I got a new back door to the house, the locksmith told me for safety get a steel door, so I did. Since I was robbed totally in Chicago once, I know it can happen to any of us...and usually in the hours from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. from my research.
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:08 PM   #25
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A friends house was hit twice in 4 months. Never anything big taken ... just jewlrey, small electronics and cash (a coin jar). "Had to be kids" (I told DW) ... "they can't bring home a flat panel TV or new stereo".

So last week they busted 10-12 teen agers in a theft-for-drugs ring in a neighboring town. Maybe things will change for them now.
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Old 12-18-2009, 02:30 AM   #26
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I'm not a cop, but I do know (from restaurant inspecting days) that you don't have to rat-proof your place (damn near impossible to do); you just have to make it harder to get into than the place next door.

I think the same is true for securing your home. So, basically what Leonidas said!

The other thing is to be unpredictable -- if you're always gone between 9 and 3, that's when your house will be hit. If you're in and out and moving around (or it LOOKS like you are, based on your house patterns, etc.) it's harder for thieves to time a hit, and they might just take a pass on you and move on.

We use digital timers for our lights (and you can even get some now that are random on / random off, so the lights come on and go off at different times of the day). Someone who can come open your curtains / close them each day, in addition to maintaining the outside of the house and collecting mail/papers would be great.

Finally, I always take jewelry and documents that I would hate to lose to our safety deposit box at the bank before we go on an extended trip. That way, if our house is broken into, I know that the irreplaceable stuff is at least behind a vault door. We also take pictures of each room before major trips, and those go to the safety-deposit box, too, just in case.
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Old 12-18-2009, 08:26 AM   #27
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The reason burglars hit between 9 am and 3 pm is the owners will, most likely, be at work; but, of course, the smart burglars have already cased the place and know what your schedule is.
I was robbed in an apartment building--with all the people gone to work then, too. It was a no fun experience for sure, and one I have no desire to repeat ever.
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:52 PM   #28
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We use digital timers for our lights (and you can even get some now that are random on / random off, so the lights come on and go off at different times of the day).
Just a word on the timers. We have some that you set the on/off time on, but they then vary by about 15 minutes plus or minus that time. I like them a lot. We also got a few that just randomly go on and off all the time, no rhyme or reason. Those I don't like. I don't think having the light going off and on all night long is very realistic. We travel a good bit, so I leave a number of lights on the timer even when we're home. I just go to bed at night whenever, knowing the light will go off. I think if anybody was casing the joint they'd be thrown off by the consistancy shown even when we're home.

A second piece I do with the timers is to have the one in the den go off about a half hour earlier than the one in the bedroom. And the bedroom one comes on much later than the den. This sort of follows the progression we make through the house at night.

I don't know how much any of this helps, but it seems like a burgler would be aware of patterns and the like. Heh, my den light just popped on while I was typing this.
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Old 12-19-2009, 07:05 PM   #29
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Just a word on the timers. We have some that you set the on/off time on, but they then vary by about 15 minutes plus or minus that time. I like them a lot. We also got a few that just randomly go on and off all the time, no rhyme or reason. Those I don't like.
We've got some of the Honeywell wall switches installed that can be programmed to turn on at around sunset, and turn off at a preset time +- 15 minutes. I've also got a few switches that 'record' usage patterns and then can be set to play them back, again with +- 15 minute random changes.

The nice thing with the wall switches is that they operate the same built-in lights we normally use. We leave the Honeywell switches on automatic all the time, as the pattern matches our normal usage.

I also have motion detector switches in places where I might not have hands free. That makes taking out the garbage at night easier...
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:18 AM   #30
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When I am at work, my dog would most definitely bark his head off if someone was lurking about. When I vacation he goes to stay with a friend of mine who has quite the furry menagerie of her own. My TVs are old, and I don't have any new, expensive electronics. My bits and pieces of jewelry are well hidden. I guess I could leave stuff with a friend as she leaves her jewelry with me when she travels, but I just have never thought it was worth it. I used to have a safety deposit box with my son's name on it with me, but I closed it out and gave him the little coin collection that belonged to my Dad and was added to by his father.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:39 AM   #31
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M Paquette: Regarding these Honeywell wall switches--which sound perfect for me--do you just call an electrician and he brings and installs them? Stupid question, but I've never heard of them...altho I really love the idea you presented.
How expensive is this proposition of buying and installing these Honeywell wall switches?
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Old 12-21-2009, 01:32 AM   #32
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I installed an older version of this for our kitchen and living room:

Amazon.com: Aube by Honeywell TI033/U 7-Day Programmable Timer Switch, White: Home Improvement

We got the switches at Home Depot, for around $25 each. That was a few years ago, and an older model. The new ones look nicer.

You could easily get an electrician or handyman to install them. They'd probably just run over to Home Depot and pick them up. Installation takes about 10-15 minutes each. As a wild guess, getting a handyman/electrician to install them would run around $50-75 a switch including the cost of the switch.

The other neat wallswitch that I like is the motion detector:

Amazon.com: Leviton OSSNL-IDW Decora Passive Infrared Wall Switch Occupancy Sensor, LED Adjustable Night Light, 180 Degree, 2100 sq ft Coverage, White: Home Improvement

I've put this in a garage attached to the house, so that when I walk into the garage with my hands full, the light turns on. I don't have to stop, set stuff down, and try to find the switch in the dark. It's also nice when we come home late at night. (There are cheaper switches, but this one works well with built-in florescent lighting.)
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