Uploaded: Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 4:39 pm
Police warn residents of burglary threat
Lock doors, beware of doorbell ringers with thin cover stories, police say
In response to a recent increase in residential burglaries in Menlo Park over the last two weeks, the police department is warning residents to lock doors and windows before leaving home, get to know neighbors and neighborhood comings and goings, and immediately report suspicious activity to police.
One suspicious activity might be someone ringing the doorbell and asking about a lost dog or posing as a utility company employee, a known ruse, police said. If someone answers the door, the doorbell ringer has an excuse for being there. If the bell goes unanswered, it's an opportunity to look for ways to get inside.
So what falls into the category of suspicious activity, and which number should you call? "Suspicious activity can mean many things to different people," Menlo Park Police Department spokeswoman Nicole Acker said. "This is why we encourage residents to talk with their neighbors and be familiar with their surroundings. This communication within the community will help residents identify what is considered 'suspicious' in their eyes."
Call 330-6317 to report an activity that does not represent an emergency, or 330-6300 during business hours. Call 911 for an emergency.
Posted by Peter Carpenter,
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
Here are some good ideas from a criminologist, Elicka S.L. Peterson-Sparks, Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Appalachian State University"
"15 Home Burglary Tips
Elicka graciously agreed to let us publish her home burglary protection tips to her neighbors, to which we've also added a few thoughts of our own. Here they are.
People are your best defense -- be a visibly nosy neighbor. Let anyone walking the neighborhood or sitting in a parked car see you watching them.
Make a note of car license plates and if anyone behaves suspiciously or stays in their car for a lengthy period, call the police.
Tell close neighbors you trust if you plan to be away or expect any deliveries.
If they're in the know they're more likely to notice something you didn't mention and spot unexpected callers at your home (burglars often call at the front door of a house to check if anyone is there).
And, if you are going away, use timers to switch lights on and off at random, cancel newspapers and put a hold on your mail deliveries -- or, to guard your schedule, arrange for the trusted neighbor to collect them.
Having a dog is a huge deterrent. Ironically, burglars are far more likely to avoid a house with a small dog than a big one -- small dogs tend to be nervous and less easy to trick into calming down. They're less trustful and bark louder and longer.
Take a walk around your home, inside and out, to figure where the weakest link in your security might be -- like leaving a window open in a secluded spot.
High-risk places include the door from your garage into the house, back doors, side "breezeways" where a burglar would not be seen, and large shrubs close to the residence where thieves could hide.
Take action to increase protection in these vulnerable places -- like installing keyed window locks and deadbolts on doors and using toughened glass in windows and doors. Remove those shrubs.
If you leave windows open on the second floor, make sure your extension ladder is locked away.
Be wary about who you allow into your home and how much information you give about your belongings and schedule.
This applies even with neighbors you don't know or fully trust ("inside" jobs are not uncommon). And don't leave valuables in view, inside or from outside the house.
If you're able, vary the times you leave and return home. If your household has several cars, vary who drives them, making it more difficult for an observer to know who is home and when.
Make it tough for home burglary prowlers to know whether they're under surveillance.
Fake cameras can be good -- but only if they could be taken for the real thing, not cheap plastic devices with flashing lights, which home burglars easily identify.
Fake security stickers or signs don't work either, but, if you have an alarm, real stickers and signs work.
Control access to and around your property. Consider motion-activated lights, even on the street outside your home.
Neighborhood Watch, Video Surveillance, No Parking,and No Outlet signs can be effective against home burglary too. This way, would-be thieves know you mean business.
Motion-activated cameras are another powerful weapon -- both as a home burglary deterrent and, linked to a computer (and, better yet, to a home network), to record images of your unwelcome visitors.
These days, these devices are inexpensive. Network-linked cameras costing around $85 can even email images so you have an off-site backup (ours sends images automatically to a separate gmail account, so even if the camera is disabled, we still have the pictures online).
An alarm system, preferably with a visible box outside the house, will not only deter crooks but sound an immediate alert of a home burglary.
You might seriously consider a system that's monitored 24/7 by a security company who will quickly notify law enforcement of an incident.
Gates, both to your property and in gated communities, can also be a home burglary deterrent, (even if there is another way out). If you have a guarded, gated community, use "Resident" stickers.
Renters could have a temporary sticker they must surrender at the end of their lease, while visitors collect a pass which they must return on leaving.
Avoid creating temptation. Don't leave things like lawn mowers and bikes unattended outside; lock them up.
Inside, burglars are more likely to go for "middle of the road" valuables than expensive jewelry and appliances -- because they're easier to redeem for cash.
Don't hide a key. Home burglary crooks know all those "secret" places.
Elicka recalls: "I interviewed a burglar who hit the same house every few years for 30 years.
"Astonishingly, as he was showing us what he liked about it, he jumped out of the car to show us where they had hidden the key, over the door, for about 10 years!"
More Home Burglary Dangers
There are two other important home burglary facts you should know.
First, if you've previously been burglarized, you're statistically more likely -- six times more, according to Elicka -- to be targeted again, so you will need to take extra precautions.
And second, home burglaries can involve much more than the theft of your valuables.
If the crooks steal personal and confidential information, you could become a victim of another major scam --identity theft."
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