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Tags: Fourth | of | July | Burglars

The Fourth: A Holiday For Burglars

By    |   Sunday, 06 July 2008 05:15 PM EDT

While millions of Americans are enjoying this wonderful and patriotic Fourth of July long weekend, sly crooks are looking for an opportunity to rob homes.

The statistics for home burglaries are astonishing:

Fact #1: More than 6 million residential break-ins occur every year — that is 1 every 10 seconds!

Fact #2: About half of all home burglaries are committed without force, through unlocked windows, patios and doors!

Fact #3: The average cost per break-in was approximately $1,500 (not including the costs of replacing any broken windows or doors)!

Fact #4: 1 of every 10 homes will be burglarized this year in the United States — will you be next?

So what can you do to reduce your risk of having your home burglarized? Here are some superb ideas suggested by National Crime Prevention Council, Burglary Prevention Council, as well as law enforcement professionals:

1. Always be sure to lock your doors and windows, even if you will be gone for just a few minutes. Remember that an unsecured door, window or patio is an open invitation for crooks to enter your home.

Quick security tip: It is a good plan to re-key your locks when you move into a new home.

2. Never leave your house key under a doormat, in a flower pot or on the ledge of a door or window. Yes, burglars are well aware of these so-called hiding places. If you think you need an extra key, consider giving one to a highly trusted neighbor.

It is also recommended that all your exterior doors should be made of solid core wood or metal, and have a good quality dead-bolt lock with at least a 1 inch “throw” extending into the door’s frame. Also be sure to install a wide angle peephole (180 degrees) in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door (please do not rely on door chains as most can be easily broken). In addition, your windows should have the proper locking devices installed.

Quick security tip: It is important to note that many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds trying to break into a home, so good locks, and using them, are vital.

3. Entering a home through the sliding glass doors is a favorite of many burglars. So be sure to correctly secure your sliding glass doors.

Quick security tip: Better than just using the old fashion method of putting a broomstick in the track (many criminals can easily defeat this technique), is to properly install commercially available security devices that are specifically engineered to safeguard sliding glass doors.

4. It is common to see many homeowners who leave their garage doors open. Please do not do this, even if you are at home. Also, it smart to keep the door to an attached garage locked.

5. Criminals hate bright lights! It is intensely important to keep the exterior of your home well lit all night.

6. It is a clever idea to make your home look occupied, even when it’s not. Consider using timers that will randomly turn on and off your lights, TV or radio (tuned to a “talk show” format rather than a music station), so that it appears someone is home while you are away. If you expect to be gone for more than a day or so, it may be a good idea to have a trusted neighbor pick-up your newspaper and mail so that they don’t pile up.

Quick security tip: Why not join or start a Neighborhood Watch Group in your area? If properly set-up and maintained, they can be highly effective in reducing crime in your neighborhood.

7. Make a list of your valuables and record their serial numbers. You may also what to photograph or video tape these items. Consider engraving a personal ID number, such as your driver’s license number, on certain valuables.

Quick security tip: Don’t use your Social Security Number as your ID number because the Social Security Administration, due to privacy rules, may not be able to reveal your identity to law enforcement.

8. Keep your shrubbery pruned and trimmed so that it does not conceal doors and windows. Remember improperly kept foliage provides a great hiding place for criminals trying to break into your home.

9. Never leave a message on your answering machine telling callers that you are away from home or are on vacation.

10. Consider purchasing a quality home alarm for enhanced home protection. If you do decide to get a home alarm system, please take the time to learn how to properly operate it as to reduce your incidents of false alarms.

For more information on preventing home break-ins, log on to the National Crime Prevention Council’s website at

My Final Thoughts: Many home burglaries can be prevented by using these simple tips. Don’t be fooled by thinking break-ins only happen at night. In fact, about 60% of all home burglaries happen during daylight, usually when you are at work. So you must keep your crime prevention efforts in place at all times, night and day.

Did you know most law enforcement agencies will give your home a free, unbiased, home security inspection? It’s true. Just call your local police department or sheriff’s office and ask to speak to their crime prevention officer. They will be happy to assist you.

If you come home and you see a broken window, an open door or other evidence of a break-in, do not enter your residence. Go to a trusted neighbor’s home, or to a safe area, and immediately call the police.

Note: If you manufacture or distribute any security, safety, emergency preparedness, homeland defense or crime prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to

Copyright 2008 by Bruce Mandelblit

“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit ( is a regular column for the readers of and magazine.

Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is

Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.

Bruce writes "Staying Safe," a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety, and crime prevention.

Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel — the state’s highest honor — for his public service.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.

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While millions of Americans are enjoying this wonderful and patrioticFourth of July long weekend, sly crooks are looking for an opportunity to rob homes.The statistics for home burglaries are astonishing:Fact #1: More than 6 million residential break-ins occur every year —...
Sunday, 06 July 2008 05:15 PM
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