Written by Jan Pringle on 28 January 2015.
Protect yourself – This is your home and your lake. None of us should be complacent about protecting what is ours. If we do things correctly thieves and vandals will have a very hard time with their dirty deeds around here. Strong locks on your doors and good neighbors who look out for one another can be effective deterrents to burglars.
We’ve had burglaries, car theft and vandalism in the past. We don’t need any more of it! Since some of the houses here are vacant except for the summer weekends or holidays it’s important to keep an eye on properties near our own homes. Talk to the owners of the “summer homes” about having outdoor motion sensor lights and timed lights inside the house. This will help protect our own homes and families.
Another good point is remember to notify your neighbors when you hear of a crime or see something suspicious. Most people will double their efforts for security and watchfulness when they know there is a problem afoot. When we work together and remain aware we can greatly diminish the possibility of problems.
Watch for unfamiliar vehicles driving too slowly then write down a description and the license number. They could be looking for an opportunity to steal something later. Also take note of unfamiliar people walking around. Get a description and don’t be afraid to call 911 to have them checked out. Unfortunately, the sheriff tends to patrol during quiet times, so never hesitate to call their attention to something questionable, no matter how small. It will keep them thinking of us.
Always pick up newspapers and keep mailboxes emptied otherwise it looks like the property is vacant and it’s an invitation for the bad guys. Keep your home looking occupied! For the same reason you should move your empty garbage cans and the recycle bin from the curb as soon as possible. And never set out boxes for trash or recycling that indicate you just made a major purchase like a television or computer.
Here are more good tips I picked up on the internet:
Check Your Locks
- Make sure every external door has a strong, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door or by installing commercially available locks. To prevent the door being lifted off of the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or “pin” your windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. You should secure basement windows with grilles or grates (but make sure that they can be opened from the inside in case of fire).
- Never hide keys around the outside of your home. Instead, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
Check Your Doors
While we all like to feel that once we close and lock our doors, we’re safe and secure, the truth of the matter is that a lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down with your wallet on the front seat.
All outside doors should be metal or solid wood. Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so that you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders. If your doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
Check the Outside
Take a look at your home from the outside, and keep in mind the following tips to help make your home as safe as it can be:
- Burglars hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night. Motion-detector lights can be particularly effective. (Note: At Gardner Lake we love the lack of street lights so we can enjoy star gazing and peaceful nights on our patios. But try turning on lights when it gets late. This tip about motion sensor lights is a good one!)
- Keep your yard clean. Prune shrubbery so it doesn’t hide windows or doors. Cut back tree limbs that a burglar could use to climb to an upper-level window.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you are at home by getting timers that will turn lights (and perhaps a television or radio) on and off in different parts of your home throughout the day and evening hours. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And make sure you don’t let your mail and/or newspapers pile up. Call the post office and newspaper to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick them up.
- Make a list of your valuables, such as VCRs, stereos, computers, and jewelry. Take pictures of the items, list their serial numbers and description. This will help police if your home is burglarized.
- Ask your local police station for a free home security survey.
- When getting work done on your vehicle, leave only the vehicle key for the service personnel. The same goes for car park attendants and valets.
- If you are having work done on your vehicle, give the service station your business address – not your home address.
Burglars Can Do More Than Just Steal
While most burglars prefer to strike when no one is home, intruders can commit other crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone entering the home, or if they pick a home that is occupied.
- If something looks questionable – a slit screen, a broken window or an open door – don’t go in. Call the police from a neighbor’s house, a cell phone, or a public phone.
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
Also – never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates that you may not be at home, or that you live alone. Instead, say “We’re not available right now.”If you are going to be away from home, never post that fact on Facebook or Twitter.
I love our lake as much as anyone and I want us to be safe and happy. Of course everyone values their privacy and so do I. But I believe we can protect everyone’s privacy at the same time we can protect our homes and belongings. Thank you for being great neighbors… there’s no place like Gardner Lake!