Monthly Archives: July 2010

Keep Home Security in Mind before Going on Vacation

As the summer continues on many homeowners will be going on vacation, but before they leave, home security should be at the top of the list.

“Bad guys look for any opportunity to prey on the innocent.  Unless precautions are taken, an unoccupied home can present a tempting target,” Crime Prevention Officer David Behm tells the Berksmont News.

The best advice for those going out of town Behm says is “consider a house-sitter to look after your home while you are absent, file a vacation report, and consider getting multiple timers that will activate lights throughout the home.”

Other tips include –

• Leave the lights on

Behm adds, “Bad guys hate light.  It’s just that simple.  Criminals do not like to be seen.”

Lights with timers or even a low wattage light bulb on a porch can stop a criminal.

• Have good locks

Behm says you should buy an extra dead bolt for every exterior door.

• Look as if you are at home.

“A lot of bad guys look for piled up mail and newspaper deliveries.  Homes without activity for an extended period of time as well as dark areas around the home where someone could gain access to the home are something that burglars look for,” Behm said.

• Keep your information private.

According to Behm, the crime prevention unit recommends that you do not advertise your absences on social media networks such as Facebook.’

Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Many children drown in pools and spas each year.  It can happen very fast and you might not even hear it.  To prevent this, the Home Safety Council offers some tips.

1. If you have a pool or spa, install a fence that goes all the way around it.  The fence should close and latch by itself.  It should be least five feet high.

2. Always keep gates closed and latched.  Never prop a gate open.

3. When children are in or near the water, a grownup should watch them very carefully.

4. If you have a pool party, have grownups take turns watching the children at all times.

5. Never swim alone.  Even adults should swim with a buddy.

6. Learn how you would save someone in trouble.  Learn First Aid and CPR.

7. Make sure that anyone who cares for your children learns CPR.

8. Keep poolside rescue equipment close to the pool area.

9. Post emergency numbers and CPR instructions near the pool area.

10. The pump in a pool or spa creates powerful suction at the drain which can trap a swimmer under water.  

11. Teach children to stay away from drains, grates and filters.

12. Never leave toys in or around the pool when you are not there.

13. Teach children the “rules of the pool.”  Remind them often.

Criminal Dying to Escape

It’s been a while since we posted a dumb criminal story here on the HSS Blog.  So here it goes – A Philadelphia woman is accused of hiding in a coffin at a funeral home after escaping police.

Nicole April Kelly, 19, had been caught by police in connection with two outstanding warrants.  Saying she “just couldn’t do this,” she broke free and ran off.   She must have been dying to make a quick getaway, because she was found several hours later by the owner of Brown Funeral Home, whom she immediately attempted to bite, according to The Sentinel.

Documents state that police used several dogs and a helicopter in their search for Kelly, which lasted for several hours, until she was found hiding inside a coffin at the Brown Funeral Home by the business’s owner Dan Brown.  Brown then grabbed Kelly’s wrist and arm and kept her on the ground until the police came.

Drywall Burglaries

In Overland Park near Kansas City, Missouri, it seems they are having a problem with a rash of “drywall” commercial burglaries.  Apparently, there have been five such robberies in the past six weeks.  Overland Park Chief of Police John Douglas writes about it in his “Just the Facts” blog.

What’s a “drywall” burglary?  This term describes how a criminal enters a business from another business.  Here’s how it’s done.  The thief finds a vacant business that shares a common wall with an active business.  This is common in strip mall style buildings.  The burglar then enters the vacant store cuts through the plaster board or “drywall” big enough to gain access to the active business.  Once inside the thief usually goes undetected and can work to steal whatever the target item is inside.  Some safes have even been broken into.

In the last six weeks five Overland Park stores have been entered in this manner with significant losses report.  The crimes occur overnight and are not discovered until the following morning.  Other cities in the metropolitan area have experienced this same style of burglary and it is most likely the same burglars are responsible for all the crimes.

It’s important that if you own any type of retail store you should have a complete security system equipped with motion detectors.  These motion detectors are designed to signal the control panel and hence sound an alarm once movement is detected throughout a protected room.

Darth Vader Robs Bank

I guess being a galactic bad guy bad guy must not pay what it used to. 

Police say a man donning a Darth Vader outfit with mask and cape walked into a bank in Long Island, New York and pulled out a gun – not a light saber – and demanded money.

The “Star Wars” character was caught on a surveillance camera.  No word on how much he walked away with.  Luckily no one was hurt.  Police say the dark lord took off on foot.

Meanwhile, here’s another cornball story –

The Associated Press reports that a Pittsburgh-area man robbed a bank wearing a woman’s blond wig, fake breasts under a sweater, and clown pants.

Police say 48-year-old Dennis Hawkins was found sitting in a parked car covered in red dye from an exploding packet in a bag of money when he was arrested.

Police Chief Greg Geppert says Hawkins robbed the bank at gunpoint, using a toy BB gun he had shoplifted from a store.

Geppert says Hawkins then entered a woman’s car.  She got out, took her keys and alerted police.  Hawkins was found sitting in the car.

Flat-screen TVs are the No. 1 Target of Home Burglars

An Allstate Insurance survey of police departments across Texas found that flat-screen TVs typically are the top target in home burglaries, followed by laptop computers, jewelry and cash.  Some police departments reported a growing number of home burglaries tied to organized crime, such as street gangs.

“Most burglaries in your neighborhood are being committed by youths 18 and under.  They are not skilled professionals, but they will take advantage of an easy target.  Don’t make it easy for them,” Austin Police Department advises.

In addition here are some home security tips:

• Establish a good relationship with your neighbors and ask them to keep a close watch on your home if you have to be away for an extended period.

• If you travel on business or vacation, make sure you temporarily suspend all home deliveries or have someone pick up your mail and home-delivered newspapers.

• Trim bushes.  This reduces a burglar’s opportunity to hide behind shrubs before or after a break-in.

• Install outdoor lighting and motion-sensor lights.  Burglars don’t want to be seen.

• Even when running a short errand, look the doors of your home when you leave.

Ex-Burglars Reveal Tricks of the Trade

Hidden keys, open windows, and Twitter all make life easy for burglars, according to research from the UK insurance firm MORE THAN.

A survey of 50 former criminals, undertaken by the insurance firm, found that many burglars undertook a considerable amount of research before attempting to steal from people’s houses – research that is easier to come by in the age of online social networks.

To break the stats down, 68% of those questioned said they collected information about their target’s home and routine in advance of committing a crime.  12% turned to sites such as Facebook and Twitter to pinpoint the whereabouts of a target and establish how long they would be away from home.

MORE THAN spokesperson, Pete Markey said, “The research suggests that burglars still use tried and tested methods when it comes to breaking in to properties but that they’re keeping up with the times too.”

Richard Taylor, a former burglar who is now a Methodist minister, said, “In the old days you could buy information from a postman or from a milkman, about who was away on holiday.  Now people are online giving you updates about going to the airport, about sipping their coffee, about everything.”

Other key findings:

A third of ex-burglars believe homeowners keep their valuables hidden in bedroom drawers, 20% thought they’d be in a safe and 4% would check the fridge.  Plus, the ex-burglars say while nosey neighbors made little difference, an alarm, followed by a dog were identified as deterrents.

Tips to Prevent Auto-Theft This Summer

Here are a few tips to help you prevent becoming a victim of Auto-Theft this summer!

1) Hide your valuables. Smash-and-grab car burglars aren’t exactly criminal masterminds. Many simply act on impulse. So keep your valuable belongings with you, or out of sight. Car floors, dashboards and seats are not good places to leave items like purses, laptops, phones, etc.

2) Keep your car visible. The last thing thieves want is a crowd of onlookers to witness their crime. You can help prevent a burglary by parking your car in crowded areas, such as busy parking lots, well-lit areas, etc.

3) Make burglaries difficult. Smash-and-grab car burglars don’t want the complexity of a caper movie when stealing your iPod or cash. Every hurdle you can provide makes it more likely they’ll move on. Following this simple advice will give you an added layer of protection against car burglaries.

4) Don’t hand a car burglar your keys. Leaving your key on the dash or in the ignition is an invitation to a car burglar. And keep in mind that if you have a great hiding place for a spare key (in your wheel well or above your sun visor), a thief has thought of it, too.

5) Stow your belongings before you get there. Experienced thieves often stake out parking lots. Move valuable items, like shopping bags and laptops, to your trunk before you get to the parking lot.

6) Trust your instincts. If you see suspicious activity, find somewhere else to park. Don’t confront anyone: If you’re concerned, report your suspicions to an attendant or the police. By reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities, you can help prevent others from becoming a victim of a car burglary or another crime.

Source: KHQ.COM

Tips for Safe Off-Campus College Living

Living off-campus brings more independence, but along with it comes the risk of residential burglary as well.  In 2008, there were 2,375 non-campus burglaries reported by colleges in the U.S.  That’s why All Home Security is offering these tips for students living off-campus.

Be aware of surroundings – Notice approaching danger by staying alert.  When feel threatened, drive or walk to a well-lit public area and call the police.  It’s better to be wrong than to fall victim.

Keep in touch – Notify roommates or friends of whereabouts at all times so they’ll know to notify the police if something goes wrong.  Increase the likelihood of neighbors reporting suspicious activity by becoming acquaintances.

Light the way – The exterior of your house or apartment should always be well-lit.  If it isn’t, contact the property manager and have more lights installed.  Also, replace burnt-out light bulbs.

Use an Alarm system – Property owners should have some type of home alarm system installed. If they don’t, bring it to their attention.  Easy-to-use, affordable models can help protect their investments.

Lock doors – Always lock doors and use deadbolts at night.  Unlocked doors are an open invitation to criminals.  Never open doors for or buzz in strangers in apartment buildings.  Walk with keys in-hand instead of searching for them in a purse or pockets at the door.  

Hide valuables – Don’t lure criminals by prominently displaying valuables like TVs or computers to people outside.  Use blinds or curtains to block others’ views into living spaces.

Facebook Security

Facebook reports that there are more than 400 million active users.  50% of those users log onto the social networking site on any given day. If you are one of them, it’s a good idea to have security on your mind.  That’s because there are as many potential threats online as you have Facebook friends.    

As Rena Sandou reports on Helium.com, Facebook is an open door to your personal life and data.  Here are things you should never publicize on Facebook:

Birth Date

Even though it sounds harmless, statistics have shown that revealing your full birth date and place gives cyber and non-cyber criminals the chance to predict with great success your Social Security numbers. You even risk your credit or debit account as you give them everything they want; full name, sometimes even middle name, full birth date, birth place, current location, and marital status.

Home Address

Never reveal your home address.  Risking getting robbed are stalked is a real possibility.

Vacations

Are you ready for the big trip? Share it with your real friends and family and not with your Facebook contacts.  That’s even if you have kept your home address secret or have a home security system.  

Daily Agenda

Giving away details of your daily routine may be too risky.  It is just the same as telling everybody you will not be at home for the next 7 days.  Don’t give thieves the permission to enter your house telling them exactly when you will be away.