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Risks involved in burglary; what you can do to protect yourself

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By Mike Reitan, Assistant WF Police Chief

When a person elects to conduct a burglary they are faced with the risk of being discovered in the act. Most burglars will not target an occupied house. They often will knock at the door or ring the doorbell to confirm no one is home. If a homeowner appears at the door the criminal will pretend they are at the house by mistake or will ask for directions. We ask that if you experience a similar circumstance that you take note of the person and any vehicle they may be driving. Call the police right away. We would rather check them out and find nothing then to take a burglary report from one of your neighbors.

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Houses that are vacant for an extended period of time are often targeted. Snow on the sidewalk, the accumulation of mail or newspapers or overgrown grass may signal no one is home. Leaving your garage door open with no vehicles in the driveway also signals you are gone. Arrange to have someone check on your home while you are away. Have them collect the mail, remove snow or mow the lawn.

Houses routinely vacant during the day can be the target. No vehicles visible, no sounds or no activity signal no one is home. Use timers on televisions and lights to give the impression someone may be there. A dog left at home can also make a burglar shy away. Small dogs are typically noisy with their barking and can draw attention. Large dogs may pose an additional physical threat. Statistically, homes with dogs are less likely to be burglarized suggesting that dog ownership is a substantial deterrent.

When your home and its surroundings provide for good visibility of doors and windows you are less likely to be burglarized. Homes with trees and dense shrubs, privacy walls or fences, or architectural designs that obstruct doors or windows allow a burglar to remain hidden and any damage to go unnoticed. Likewise, homes that are secluded and set back from the road reduce the chance a neighbor or passerby will see or hear a burglar. Poor lighting around a home can allow a burglar to go undetected during the nighttime hours.

Your homes vulnerability or security plays a part in how likely your home will be the target of a burglar. Houses with weakened entry points are more vulnerable. Worn or decaying door or window frames or cheaper materials and poor construction techniques can make a home easy to enter. A minimal amount of force may be all that is necessary to defeat a lock. A lock may not function properly because of being worn or misaligned due to age. Maintaining and using good locks and other security devices will reduce the chance of you becoming a victim. Burglars will also take advantage of a home owner’s carelessness to enter unlocked or open windows and doors. Being gone from home to run a quick errand may be enough time for someone to steal from you.

Take a survey of the outside of your home to locate areas that offer an obstructed view of a door or window. Is there something you can change to make the area less vulnerable? Inspect all windows and doors to make sure locks and other security devices work properly. Check the frames to see if they are solid and in good repair. Take the time to use the locks. Locks serve little purpose if you do not engage them. Consider purchasing an alarm system. One of the most cost effective measures is to get to know your neighbors and work together to keep criminals from your neighborhood.

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