2011 National Night Out

0

Posted by Debbie McKnight | Posted in Activities, Blockwatch, News You Can Use | Posted on 27-07-2011

Tuesday August 2nd will be National Night Out.

Mark your calendars and be ready to turn on your porch lights, lock your doors and go outside to meet your neighbors!

  • National Night Out was designed to heighten crime prevention awareness
  • strengthen community spirit
  • Send criminals a message that we are unified and watching

Stay tuned for more information on events happening in our neighborhood.


Home Security Tips

0

Posted by Debbie McKnight | Posted in Blockwatch | Posted on 26-02-2011

Home Security

Burglary involves someone unlawfully entering a building or residence and committing a crime, most often theft. Burglarizing a home can lead to a 5, 10 or even a 20 year prison sentence. Burglars often commit crimes to support an illegal drug habit, so their motivation may be more than monetary gain. If burglars need to make money to support a drug habit (possibly as high as $100 to $150 per day), they are going to find someone to victimize. The question is, “will that victim be you?”

Burglars choose their target the same way as other criminals do, they look for the easiest target. One question every home owner should ask is “what type of target does my home present to a would-be burglar?”

Most burglaries occur when people are away from their home, often during the day or working hours. The physical security of your home, therefore, is essential when trying to avoid becoming a victim of a property crime. There are a few steps you can take in making your home a “hard target” for a burglar or any other thief.

First, make it a habit of checking doors and windows to see if they are secure or locked. The best lock that money can buy will only work if it is activated or locked. Sadly, many crimes in the community occur simply because someone failed to turn a lock that was already installed.

Second, consider the structural integrity of the locks. Are they still able to do what they are intended to do? A sliding glass or patio door lock may need additional security (door stop or jam that is clearly visible). A single lock may need an additional deadbolt. Check the screws in the window locks as they tend to come loose if you frequently lock and unlock the windows. Furthermore, do not assume that because a window is on the second floor or higher, it will not be targeted. Although windows and doors on the ground are clearly an easier target, a determined burglar may gamble with a little extra effort to see if you have left elevated doors and windows unlocked. It will be up to you to determine if that gamble pays off.

WARNING: Never secure a door or lock to the point that you cannot readily open it to escape in case of a fire or other emergency.

Third, consider the exterior environment around your home. Sufficient lighting for the “night-time” criminals is an excellent deterrent. If you have inadequate lighting on the interior and exterior of your home, that could serve as a calling card to burglars and thieves that your home may be an easy target.

Interior Lighting

When you are away from your home, you should leave lights on. However, if you are away from home for an extended time that too could serve as a tell-tale sign that no one is home. Utilize a timer for your lights so that they turn off and on intermittently as if someone was actually at home. This can create just enough uncertainty to make a would-be burglar move on to an easier target (someone who has chosen not to take steps to protect his/her home and property).Lights on a timer should be visible from the street to serve as an effective deterrent, as well as enabling you to come home to a house that has sufficient lighting. They are easy to operate and will save you money.

Exterior Lighting

Only you know what type of lighting is best for your home. However, if you know you have inadequate lighting you should take steps as soon as possible to repair or replace them. Sensor lights are especially good because they ideally operate on low wattage until someone activates the sensor. The lights then switch to full power illuminating a broad area. When would-be thieves are caught in the middle of a high beam light, they simply do not know if they have been compromised. Standard lighting creates shadows and areas of opportunity to work in the dark (behind a vehicle, tree or shrub), but sensor lights catch people out in the open. It illuminates them for everyone to see (neighbors or the police on routine patrol).

Also, consider the plants and trees around your home. If you cannot see your doors and windows, then no one can see a burglar breaking into your home through those same doors and windows. Excessive plants or greenery provides excellent concealment that is a perfect environment for a would-be burglar to gain entry to your house with any number of tools

at his disposal. Furthermore, excessive shrubbery eliminates the need for a rapid entry as the burglar does not have to worry about being seen by others.

Finally, get involved in a neighborhood watch or, at least, watch out for each other. Find someone that you know and trust on your street to help look out for your home and property and vice versa. Crime prevention is a community effort. The Louisville Metro Police Department is committed to involving

citizens in our crime prevention strategies. We need your help to make our community a safe, more secure place in which to live.

If you are a victim of a crime, there is one more step you can take to help bring those responsible to justice. In the past, it has been called “Operation Identification”, but it is simply creating a written inventory (item, make, model and serial number) of all your valuables. If someone steals something from you and you have the serial number to provide to the police officer, it will be recorded into the National Crime Information Center database. If the item is found, across the street or across the country, officers will be able to collect your property and charge the person who has it with receiving stolen property. Police having documentation of stolen property can be the difference between a suspect still walking the streets or being behind bars where they belong.

Home Security Tips

Below you will find tips on how to protect your home against crime.

Alarms

No alarm system will make your home 100% safe from an intruder. However, a good system can deter and/or detect most non-professional burglars and give you some peace of mind. Reputable companies will install and maintain a system that will ring an alarm on the premises and silently signal the company’s headquarters for dispatching the police. Once the company representative has made an appraisal of your security needs, ask for a written proposal and a copy of the contract you will have to sign. Make sure the contract lists all the points of protection, the equipment to be installed, and the initial and monthly payments. You should also check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for an alarm discount.

Dogs

In most cases dogs can be a secondary security system as long as they will bark when necessary to give a warning. Dogs can scare a stranger away by either barking or looking fierce. But remember that they can be lured away, poisoned, killed, or even stolen. Trained attack dogs are not recommended because the risk of liability to the owner is great should the dog attack an innocent person. Outside dogs should be kept in a fenced area with a good lock on the gate.

Doors

Make sure that all exterior single-swing wooden doors are of solid-core or paneled construction, with a minimum thickness of 1-3/4 inches. Install a wide-angle (180 degree) peephole. The peephole will let you see who is at the door without them seeing you or having to open the door. Hinges should be located on the inside of your house or have non-removable pins. Exterior sliding glass patio doors can be pulled up in their tracks making the locks useless. One way to prevent this is to install a few sheet-metal screws in the top track with their heads nearly touching the top of the door when it is closed.

Fences, Walls, and Gates

Enclose rear and side yards. Open chain-link or ornamental metal fencing is recommended unless there is a need for privacy or noise reduction. Chain-link fencing should have its bottom edge secured with a tension wire or galvanized pipe, or should be seated in concrete to prevent easy lifting. Solid fences or walls are not recommended because they are easier to climb, provide hiding places for intruders, and are subject to graffiti. Sharp pointed fencing, i.e., fencing with spikes or a barbed- or concertina-wire topping, is not permitted in residential areas. Mount gate latches with carriage bolts and make sure that the nuts are welded on, or the bolt threads are stripped to prevent nut removal.

Helping the Police Get to Your Home

Make sure your street address number is clearly visible from the street and is well lighted at night so the

police and other emergency personnel can locate your home easily. Numbers should be at least 6 inches high. Numbers on curbs or mailboxes should not be the only way to identify your house. If numbers are painted on curbs, they should be located near driveways where they are not likely to be blocked by parked vehicles. Make sure your unit number (in a multifamily housing development) is clearly visible from paths in the development. A directory or map that shows paths and unit locations should be placed at the main entrance of the development. Provide the police with an entry code if your community or development has a security gate.

Identifying Your Property

Etch your driver’s license number on any valuables that might be stolen. Photograph valuables that cannot be etched. Keep a detailed, up-to-date record of your valuables. Include type, model, serial number, and fair market value.

Landscaping

Trim trees so that limbs don’t provide a means of getting on roofs or second stories, or of getting over a wall or fence. Trim tree canopies to at least 8 feet to allow visibility into your property. Trim bushes to less than 3 feet to eliminate possible hiding places, especially near windows, sidewalks, and exterior doors. Make sure that trees and bushes do not block lights. Plant bushes with thorns or prickly leaves under ground-level windows to make access more difficult for burglars and along fences and walls to make climbing more difficult and prevent graffiti.

Lighting

Illuminate your property at night. Don’t depend on streetlights or lights from adjoining properties. Leave outside lights on after dark. Make sure there are no shadows or dark areas around the house, garage, or yard in which a person could hide. Check lights regularly and replace burnt out bulbs. Protect your lights from vandals with wire covers. Be sure your lights don’t shine into the eyes of passing motorists or police patrols. Padlock your circuit breaker box to prevent lights from being turned off. Good four-corner exterior lighting is important, particularly where there are dark areas around the house. Floodlights installed under eaves can illuminate these areas and expose anyone next to the house. Timers or photoelectric cells can be used to turn lights on at dusk and off at dawn. And motion sensors can be used to turn lights on when any motion is detected.

Locks

Doorknob locks offer no security. They can easily be forced open. Chains don’t provide security either. They are only good for privacy. All doors leading into the house should have a deadbolt lock. Install single cylinder deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Bolts should have a minimum bolt length of 1 inch. Strike plates should have screws that are at least 3 inches long. On all exterior double doors, install flush bolts at the top and bottom of the inactive door. These should be made of steel and have a minimum bolt length of 1 inch. Install deadbolt locks on all outside sliding glass patio doors. You should also use a back up locking device such as a wooden stick that is placed in the lower track to prevent the door from opening. Better security can be obtained from thumbscrew-type locks that are mounted on both the top and bottom tracks. Install good locks on all doors that lead outside through garages or storage areas. Re- key or change all locks when moving into a new home. Install good locks on gates, garages, sheds, etc. If

you use a padlock, you should use one that has to be opened with a key and cannot be opened by bolt cutters or pry bars. The shackles should be made of hardened steel and be at least 9/32 inch thick. It is even better to use a “shielded” padlock that is designed to protect against bolt cutters. Combination locks should not be used because they offer very poor security. Use a multi-frequency opener on electrically- operated garage doors, and make sure that the bottom cannot be lifted up to allow a burglar to crawl under the door. Use hardened steel hinges, hasps, and padlocks on hand-lifted garage doors. Install cane bolts or sliding hasps on the inside of garage doors to provide additional security. Go to a locksmith or hardware store for advice on locks.

Maintaining Your Property

It is important to keep your property in good condition. Criminals are attracted to property in poor condition because they see that the owners or tenants do not care about it. Keep property free of trash, litter, weeds, leaves, dismantled or inoperative vehicles, and other things that indicate neglect in caring for your property. Remove graffiti as soon as possible after it is found. This will discourage further vandalism. The graffiti should be covered with matching paint so a “canvas” is not left for the vandals. Hardware or paint stores should be consulted regarding the best products for removing various types of graffiti from specific surfaces without damaging the surface. Extreme care should be used in applying special graffiti removal products like MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) or “Graffiti Remover” on glass or unpainted surfaces. Replace broken windows or screens. Repair broken fences and gate locks. Use screens, wired glass, or other protection for light fixtures and bulbs. Remove loose rocks and other objects that could be used to vandalize your property.

Other Openings

Pet doors, crawl spaces, ventilation windows, and other openings should be secured. Also make sure that window air conditioners are installed securely and cannot easily be removed from the outside.

Outdoor Storage

Metal sheds provide good additional storage space provided they are assembled correctly and have a good padlock.

Protecting Your Home While You Are Away

Many of these actions are intended to make it appear that you are not away from home. Use timers on lights, radios, TVs, etc. to make them go on and off during the day and night to make your home appear occupied. Stop mail and newspaper delivery, or have a neighbor pick up anything left at the home. Keep grass watered and cut. Water and trim other landscaping. Ask the neighbors to watch your home and report any suspicious activities. Leave your itinerary with a neighbor so you can be contacted in an emergency. Disconnect your electric garage door opener and padlock the door, preferably on the inside.

Security Measures

You and your home will not be safe unless you follow good security practices. These tips will help make your protective measures effective. Keep all doors and windows locked, even if you are just going out

“for a minute.” If a window is left open a few inches for ventilation, it should be locked to prevent someone from opening it more. Lock gates, garages, and sheds after each use. Store bicycles, mowers, etc. in a locked garage or shed, or secure them to some stationary point. Don’t leave notes on your door when you are away from home. Don’t leave keys in mailboxes or planters, under doormats, or in other obvious hiding spots. Leave an extra key with a neighbor. Learn to recognize who belongs in your neighborhood, development, or apartment, i.e., residents, workers, guests, etc. Know who’s at your door before opening it. Check photo registration card before dealing with any solicitors, peddlers, interviewers, etc. Be suspicious of persons making unsolicited offers of services. Post a NO SOLICITING sign if you don’t want any solicitor to ring your door bell, knock on your door, or make any other sound to attract your attention. Ask for photo identification before letting in anyone you don’t know. Check out the identification with the company or agency if you are suspicious. Never let a stranger enter your home to use the telephone. Offer to make the call yourself in an emergency. Don’t give your name or whereabouts on your answering machine message. Never say you aren’t home. Don’t leave your home keys on a chain with your vehicle keys when you use valet parking. Also, don’t leave your garage door opener where it is easily accessible. Keep your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and any other papers with your home address on them where a criminal is not likely to find them. Don’t give maids, babysitters, valets, or others working in your home access to your home keys. Call the police at 9-1-1 if you are at home and hear or see something suspicious. Don’t take direct action yourself. An officer will be dispatched to your address even if you cannot speak or hang up. Don’t go in or call out if you return home and suspect someone has broken into your home, for example if a window or screen is broken, a door is ajar, or a strange vehicle is parked in the driveway. Go to a neighbor’s home and call the police. Don’t discuss your finances or possessions with strangers. Keep valuable papers, jewelry, etc. in a bank safe deposit box. Don’t store them at home unless you have a security closet or a safe that is well hidden and cannot be removed.

Windows

Secure double-hung sash windows by drilling a hole that angles downward through a top corner of the bottom window into the bottom corner of the top window on both sides of the window. Place an eyebolt or nail in the hole to prevent the window from being opened. Replace louver windows with solid glass or some other type of ventilating window. If this cannot be done, glue the panes together with a two-part epoxy resin. Secure casement windows with key-locking latches. Make sure that the protrusion on the window that the lock is attached to is made of steel and not worn, and that the window closes properly and is not bowed or warped. Secure sliding-glass windows as described above for sash windows or by the same types of locking devices used for sliding-glass doors. Consider installing security bars on side, rear, or other windows that a burglar might break to enter your home. Make sure that the retaining bolts cannot be removed from the outside. Bars must comply with Fire Code requirements for inside release to permit an occupant to escape in the event of a fire. Reinforce the glass in viewing windows on the lock sides of doors so a burglar cannot break them and reach in to open the door.