Here in part one we will look at ways to be aware of crime in your local community, ways you can be prepared and how to prevent it. In Recent Crime Part 2: What to do when you have a break-in we look at what you should do after you have a break-in, and Part 3: Prevent Crime: You need a well-rounded security plan. Recent Crime Part 3 will give you a list of things you need to do to prevent being a victim. Feel free to skip to part 3 and never need part 2.
Two nights ago our rep Michael was called out for an unusual visit with the Gary family. We had installed an ADT security system already but a burglar had visited the Gary home. As upsetting as that it, this was a fairly successful story. You see, the burglar had probably seen the sign in the yard alerting of a security system. Unlike the 80 - 90% of thieves that would keep on truckin', this thief might have been aware that many homeowners don't arm their system at all times. Or, possibly he suspected that the Garys had bought a yard sign on eBay without actually having a system.
So our burglar, we'll call him thieving Thad, kicked their door in. Apparently when thieving Thad heard the alarm, he realized he'd rather stay out of jail (BUMMER!) and made a hasty get away. Good for our friends the Garys, nothing was taken. There were no phones or laptops or anything else in plain sight or readily available and our Mr. Thad left this home empty handed.
There's a couple of really big lessons we can learn from the Gary's predicament.
Number 1, and most important, if you have an alarm system, use it! An ADT monitored security system comes with a theft guarantee. ADT will pay up to $500 towards your homeowner's insurance deductible if you do have a break-in. However, you must have armed your system when the break-in occurred.
Number 2, don't keep valuables where they are easily accessible.
The Gary story could have sounded like this:
"The burglar knew we had an alarm, kicked the door in anyhow. Our teenage son Stan had dropped his back pack right inside the door and my laptop and purse were 3 feet away on the counter. In the backpack was a $400 cell phone, $100 calculator, door keys, car keys, $100 headphones and $200 jacket. And in the laptop case - $900 laptop, $600 cell phone with $50 case, irreplaceable work documents and finally a $350 purse- the other car's keys, all ID's, all credit cards, $200 wallet, $35 in cash and $200 in make-up (at least that's what we tells dad about the make-up *wink*.) Moral of the story, arm your security system every single day and every single night and don't reward a thief with $3135 worth of stuff for his 30 seconds inside your home.
Find recent crime in your local area
Here's what we find to be the top 4 sites to hear what's going on around you. One thing to note is that not all police departments report to outside sources so you might need to do a bit more research for your specific community. You can call your local police and ask. These sites are a great start!
CrimeReports.com provides a comparison tool for crime statistics by address that includes recent crime in the area. This site also populates a map specifically showing where the incidents have occurred.
CrimeMapping.com CrimeMapping.com has been developed by The Omega Group to help law enforcement agencies throughout North America provide the public with valuable information about recent crime activity in their neighborhood. Our goal is to assist police departments in reducing crime through a better-informed citizenry. Creating more self-reliance among community members is a great benefit to community oriented policing efforts everywhere and has been proven effective in combating crime.
FamilyWatchdog.us combines information from state sex offender registries to provide information on registered sex offenders in each town. For added security, sign up for alerts from the site to be notified of new sex offenders moving into the community.
Nextdoor.com - Nextdoor is a social media site of sorts for communities. What's great about it is it's regular folk talking about what goes on in the community and there is a specific crime section. So if there are any concerns, your neighbors are sure to be alerting others and sharing facts and you can share your concerns and facts as well.
And 2 bonus sites worth mentioning:
Megan's Law California - While family watchdog does supply some information on sex offenders, it gathers information from multiple sites that might or might not be updated quickly. Megan's Law is updated daily and has the most current information. After agreeing that you understand the legal uses of information on the site, you can search a specific offender or your local community of data. Megan's Law also offers a rating system of how dangerous a person is considered.
Nixle.com - Nixle works with local reporting agencies to distribute information to the community about what's going on now. By inputting you zip code, you'll have the option to select what updates you'd like... police, traffic, Amber alerts. Short texts will be sent right to your mobile device.
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What does this local crime information mean for me?
As crimemapping.com puts it, "Our goal is to assist police departments in reducing crime through a better-informed citizenry. Creating more self-reliance among community members is a great benefit to community oriented policing efforts everywhere and has been proven effective in combating crime." After all, if you know that two neighbors were broken into on Wednesday nights between 10 and 11pm by a single teenage kid, would you take your wife to the movies and pretend it's business as usual next Wednesday night? So looking at the crime in our area prepares us to combat it and be prepared for it.
Knowing that the houses being broken into were houses that all had appliance repair work done that week or that one burglary happened after Bob left his garage door opener on the visor, you'd know what you need not to do.
One last tip, it's common that if there are several cars broken into in a certain area, the houses are next. So don't leave paperwork such as insurance cards and registration with addresses on it in the glove compartment. Black it out beyond reading or carry it in your wallet. Check the center console and glove compartment for papers or items that give people information about you, like pay stubs that have part or all of your social security number on it. Often breaking into a car is a way to get information, a spare key or a garage opener and then move onto your house or identity.
Get involved in your neighborhood watch program
Neighborhoods across the world ban together to take stands against crime. Launched in 1972, Neighborhood Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. (The program took off quickly: in just ten years, NSA data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Neighborhood Watch.) Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur; it doesn’t rely on altering or changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.
To learn more about forming or being involved in a neighborhood watch in you area, go to http://www.ncpc.org/.
To learn a bit more about home security, you can download the 5 essential steps to protecting your family at the left or click below to set your FREE home security review and have a security expert help you take your stand against local crime.
We'd love to know what you think, please leave us a comment below and tell us what you think of this article. Here's a couple more articles you might like:
- Make your front door break-in proof to burglars
- Anatomy of a Burglary
- How to actually catch a burglar with Video surveillance
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