Police Offer Home Safety Tips
Unfortunately, anyone can be the victim of burglary. But there are things you can do to reduce your chances, according to Longview Police Department community service officer Cindy Lopez Werth.
To keep your home safe, you may find that you need to change habits and alter your daily routine. Some of the simplest changes to your home can make a significant difference and lower your chances of being a victim of burglary or other crimes.
It’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors and to watch out for each other. Encourage neighbors to call police about suspicious activity. Call 911 for in-progress emergencies and 577-3098 for non-emergency dispatch.
LOCKING DOORS & WINDOWS: Even when you’re home, it’s smart to keep your doors locked. When you leave home, even for a short trip to the store or elsewhere, be sure to lock your doors. It’s also wise to close and lock your windows while you’re away.
GARAGE DOORS: People often leave their garage doors open while they’re home or in the back yard doing lawn work. It only takes a few minutes for a crook to walk by and notice the opportunity to walk in and grab something such as sporting or fishing equipment or other valuable items.
People who leave keys inside a vehicle make it easy for someone to drive it away.
Attached garages generally lead to utility rooms or kitchens, so an open garage door can provide access to your home.
SHRUBBERY: Is there a clear view of the front door? Are your windows hidden by shrubbery? If so, thin the growth so that a burglar is denied the opportunity to work undetected. Homes with large bushes near doorways and windows are vulnerable to burglary if neighbors can’t see suspicious activity. Also, large bushes block a resident’s view of what is happening outside.
HIDING KEYS: Avoid hiding an extra house key under the door mat or other “secret” places. Burglars know all the “hiding spots” and will look for a spare key. Also, make sure that no one else has an opportunity to copy a key to your home.
RE-KEY LOCKS: This should be done when moving into an apartment or a home that has been previously occupied. This procedure is relatively inexpensive and guards against a former resident getting into your apartment or home. Also, it’s a good idea to change locks if your keys are lost or stolen.
CHANGING ROUTINE: Alter your daily routine occasionally to confuse any would-be burglar who might be watching your house with possible plans of breaking in during times you are usually not home.
LIGHTING: Turning lights inside your home on with a timer is an inexpensive way to give the impression someone is home. Outside lighting is also important. By lighting the perimeter of your home, neighbors may be able to see a suspected burglar. Most criminals do not want to be visible.
Promptly report any broken street lights in your neighborhood to your city’s street department.
HOUSE NUMBERS: House numbers should be visible from the street day and night. Garages located in alleys also should be numbered. The City of Longview requires that numbers be five (5) inches tall. For maximum visibility, choose numbers in a color that contrasts with the home or garage. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed back so they don’t cover the numbers. This makes it easier for police, firefighters or paramedics to respond to homes in emergencies.
VOICE MAIL MESSAGES: If you have a land line phone with voice mail, keep your message vague and do not leave specific information about your absence, especially information on how long you will be gone.
RADIOS & TELEVISIONS: Radios and TVs left on can create the impression that someone is home. The shadows created by a TV can make an empty home appear to be alive with activity.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Use caution when posting messages that put your home security at risk. Count down to vacations could be an indication that no one will be home for that period of time. Think about what you are posting and if someone could use that information.