Saturday, January 14, 2012

BURGLARIES- Protecting Your Home and Neighborhood

Recently, the press has covered several burglaries in Snohomish County:

Sources at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office say that burglaries in south Snohomish County are up in recent weeks.

For most of you who are Neighborhood Watch Coordinators, you probably already know what to do. But, the following is aimed at people who are just getting started with trying to solve burglary and/or car prowls/car thefts in their communities.

If you have a friend in a neighborhood with a burglary problem, please pass this information on to them. And as usual, if they would like to start a Neighborhood Watch they can contact Ann Gifford at

Protect your home from burglary. The first thing to do is to protect your home and encourage your neighbors to protect their homes, from burglars and car prowlers by removing opportunity. Burglars and car prowlers look for opportunities to steal; front doors that are unlocked or easily kicked in, back sliding glass doors that are easily opened. Cars that are unlocked with personal belongings such as wallets, purses, music CD’s, iPods, laptops, cell phones, etc. in view.

To protect your home from burglary, control the access to your home. The most basic way to do this is to make sure you have good locks on all of your doors. Your front door should have a dead bolt lock. And, make sure the strike plate to the lock is secured with screws that are 3 inches long or longer. If you have a sliding glass door to the back of your house, install a charley bar to secure it.

For more information about burglary prevention read the following one page handout from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Also, this older issue of the Sheriff’s crime prevention newsletter has many good suggestions about preventing burglaries:

Protect your car from car prowls and car theft. If you park your car outside of your home, the best rule to adopt is to not have anything showing in the car. If a car prowler can see anything, even the most seemingly innocuous item that might have no value, they will break into your car to steal it. Many people have had valuables and non-valuables stolen from their cars parked in their driveways (and in parking lots too). The items reported taken include wallets, purses, cell phones, iPods, music CD’s, laptop computers, credit cards/debit cards/gift cards, GPS units, checkbooks, jewelry, keys, mail, receipts/statements, bags and packages, tools, vehicle insurance, title and registration information, cameras, and clothing. Some of these items can be fenced or taken to pawn shops, others can be used for ID theft.

And if you keep your garage door opener in your car, while it is parked in the driveway, a car prowler can have extra fun by opening your garage and taking whatever is in it. If the door between your house and the garage is unlocked or does not have a deadbolt the car prowler/burglar has access to everything in your house.

For more information about preventing car prowls and car thefts review these handouts from the Sheriff’s Office:

Car Prowls:

Car Thefts:                    

And again, this Sheriff’s Office newsletter issue from 2004 still has relevance today:

Natural Surveillance. Burglars and car prowlers/thieves do not like to be caught. So, they do not like to be watched. That is the reason that residential burglaries occur during the day. Most people work during daylight away from their homes. Car prowlers do their thing at night, its dark and people are asleep in their homes. These are times when the thief thinks he/she will not be observed and while have less risk in getting caught.

You can take away opportunity (and increase risk) from a burglar or car prowler by making your property more observable to third parties. Make sure your house is easily observable from the street. Trim shrubs so that they are no higher than 3 feet. And trim branches of trees so that they are no lower than 6 feet off the ground. This way, your neighbors can easily see if someone is breaking into your home. Be sure that your home is well lit at night outside, especially where you park your cars. Many crime victims have installed cameras to deter thieves. Surveillance cameras have become inexpensive and camera technology is many times good enough to be effective evidence that deputies can use to apprehend suspects. Place cameras where you park your cars and around the front door of your house.

Make it clear that your home is your territory. By taking some simple steps you can give a crook the psychological message that they are not welcome and that they are at risk if they violate your space. Low fences or hedges around your front yard help to define your territory. Keeping the space around your house neat and clean gives the impression that you will notice if there is damage or anything is missing. Put away work tools and garden tools after you finish for the day. That includes ladders that can be used to enter your house on the second floor.

Band with your neighbors. Forming a Neighborhood Watch is a proven, successful way to drive out crime in your neighborhood. Exchange information about what is going on in your neighborhood. Knowing that a neighbor has been burglarized alerts you that you should take action. Neighbors supporting neighbors by keeping watch on each other’s homes, during their normal daily routines, can help to keep your community safe. If your neighbors call 911 when they see suspicious people or when they see a crime in progress, criminals will eventually find other places to commit crimes.

This handout and newsletter from the Sheriff’s Office can help you get started:

And if you want to start a Neighborhood Watch contact the Director of Community Partnerships at

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