Preventing the Break-In

By Beat Cop

Part two of a three-part series

I just added a new “friend” on Facebook. I don’t know this person, but two of my friends do, so why not, right?

Of course, I forget for the moment that I’ve used this excuse to add half the friends I already have. I click “What’s on your mind?” and enter a status update for all my digital friends to enjoy. Something witty... I know, talk about the New York trip... “Beat Cop is looking forward to his trip to NYC on Monday.”

Sadly this innocent act is just an example of one of the increasing burglary opportunities we’ve seen. Yes, the criminal I just added to my “social network” reads my update as, “Beat Cop is leaving town on Monday, I can’t wait to break his window, go in his house, go through his stuff, and steal whatever looks good.”

Far fetched or not, that scenario is rearing it’s ugly head too often lately. After reading the last Beat Cop article, "Nightmare On My Street," you learned that a reduction in police staffing has led to an increase of residential burglaries in our city. This week we will look at burglary prevention. We will explore ways all of us can contribute in order to prevent burglaries from occurring as well as learn ways to catch the crooks coming into our homes. In part three we will look at ways to get the cuffs onto those who prey on residents while they are away from their homes.

Burglary is a crime that is preventable even when you are not home. Burglars are in general cowardly and lazy. Most often they look for easy targets and quick loot. After succeeding with an easy break in, a burglar will go on the prowl for the next easy target, often in the same area/neighborhood.

I used the look up calls for service in your area link on the www.protectsanjose.com and saw that there were 94 burglaries last week in San Jose, with four of them occurring in my small neighborhood alone. Here are some of the top ways to prevent burglaries in your home and your neighborhood:

1. Don’t showboat.

Leaving valuables out in your frontyard or a new flat screen TV in plain sight from the road, can unwittingly lure thieves onto your property just like a frantic bargain hunter is lured to a flea market. The thief is always out shopping for loot. Don’t make it easy for them by letting them know what you have. Dont’ leave your garage door open for extended periods of time.

2. Don’t put up the “Out for Lunch” or “On Vacation” sign.

Burglars only want to break into your home when they know you are not there. Protect yourself by creating the illusion you are home even when you are not. Leave a radio or TV on. Buy a ten dollar timer from your local hardware store and have lamps on at night when you are gone (energy efficient florescent bulbs of course). Stop mail and newspaper subscriptions while on vacation.

3. Lock your doors and windows.

I once asked a burglar why he chose the house he did. His response was, he didn’t, it chose him. After tugging on four or five doors/windows in the neighborhood he went with the one that was open. Most home breakins are more like “walkins” requiring very little force or none at all. Invest in quality deadbolts and locks. Use wood or steel dowels in sliding doors and windows. Don’t forget about upstairs windows. It’s not hard for a burglar to climb up an air conditioning unit or a left out ladder and enter your second story window. Burglars know to look under the front mat for a hide-a-key. Leaving your spare house key in common hiding places is like leaving milk and cookies out for neighborhood thieves. Lock it up.

4. Make your yard welcoming to guests not thieves.

Keep the bushes and trees trimmed near your windows. Clutter and large items offer concealment and a chance to pry a window open in privacy. Make use of motion lights and other outdoor lighting. A well maintained yard brings more friends over and keeps more crooks out.

5. Get to know your neighbors.

Knowing who belongs in your neighborhood, will help you to recognize those who don’t. Take notice of suspicious persons and note license plates and vehicle descriptions. Take a proactive approach to keeping yourself safe and let the police help keep predators out of your neighborhood. SJPD is available to help with this. Gather a group of ten neighbors and make arrangements for a crime prevention specialist to meet with your group. You can contact the SJPD crime prevention unit at (408) 277-4133 or log on to the SJPD website.

6. Use an alarm system.

A well maintained residential alarm system can make a burglar passup your house. Monitored systems are great and alert the police of a breakin when you are not home. A system that does not have a paid monitoring service can be very effective as well. Inexpensive systems are available that make that same high pitch noise as the expensive ones and scare the burglar off just the same. An alarm sign strategically placed in your yard might be all it takes to keep the crook moving along.

The reality is that some burglaries will still occur despite our best efforts made at preventing them. Taking the time to implement as many preventative measures as possible can help to keep you safe. In part three we will continue to work together to catch crooks with efforts taken before a breakin and after. Stay tuned and help San Jose Police Officers as they work to return San Jose to being the safest big city in America.

Proudly serving you,
Your Beat Cop