Monthly Archives: September 2010

Floodlights for Your Home Protection

Any DIY homeowner can quickly and easily install floodlights for an increased sense of home security.  Francis Jock writes about floodlights in Helium’s Home & Garden section.  Jock writes that floodlights serve two important purposes for increasing your home protection.  First, they provide a safety zone where anything that moves can be clearly seen.  If it’s only a cat or other animal, there’s nothing to worry about.  On the other hand, if an unknown person is lurking about, you have an opportunity to contact the police before anything serious happens.

Secondly, floodlights are a great way to scare off potential burglars and vandals.  Floodlights won’t have much of an effect on animals, but during the darkest hours of night, a person determined to steal from you will be extra wary about forcing their way into your home. 

Floodlights should be installed near each entry door, garage door, or any other easy access point around your home.  This will send a clear message that your care enough to protect your home.

Moving Day Safety Tips

In all the excitement and stress of moving, keeping your possessions safe and sound is of course important.  Reallymoving.com has these tips for a secure moving day.

Choose a reputable moving company –

You want the peace of mind that your possessions are in safe hands, and that the company has the right insurance.

Start Early –

Start early in the day to give yourself the best chance of being in your new home by dark, especially during the winter, when the days are shorter.

Don’t unload onto the pavement –

When unloading your belongings, take them straight into the house.  Don’t unload onto the pavement, leaving items in sight for thieves.

Replace locks –

Check that you have all the right keys for your new home, and that the previous owner hasn’t left a set under the doormat or with a neighbor.  Arrange for a locksmith to change the locks on the front door at least, especially if the house has previously been rented.

Check your insurance policy –

A reputable moving company will be insured for your belongings in transit, but not when they are in your new house, so make sure your contents and buildings insurance will be valid at your new address before you move.

Hang Curtains –

You should hang curtains in your new home as soon as you can to help keep prying eyes out.  Curtains will keep your valuables out of sight.

Thieves Stealing Brick in St. Louis

You’re probably used to hearing stories about copper thieves, but St. Louis is dealing with a slightly different problem – brick thieves.  According to the New York Post, thieves are setting fire to older, vacant houses and then stealing the bricks for resale.  Apparently, the bricks are especially valued for construction in New Orleans and in other parts of the south. 

Brick theft is a crime that has increased with the recession.  Where thieves in many cities harvest copper, aluminum and other materials from vacant buildings, brick theft has emerged more recently as a sort of scrapper’s endgame.  “Cleveland is suffering from this,” said Royce Yeater, Midwest director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “I’ve also heard of it happening in Detroit.”

In St. Louis, the city police say there have been 34 brick-related thefts in the last year.  There the maximum penalty for brick theft is a $500 fine or 90 days in jail or both.

Homeowner Confronts and Struggles with Burglar

In Oakland Park, Missouri the police chief has an interesting blog.  This week he wrote about a resident who interrupted a burglary in his home at 3 o’clock in the morning.  The victim tackled the bad guy twice, but the burglar still got away.  Here’s what happened -

The 26 year old victim and a friend returned to his apartment.  That’s when they confronted a man standing inside holding electronic equipment.  The intruder ran out the back door with the victim chasing him.  During the chase the suspect and the victim both fell over the first floor balcony.  Then twice during the pursuit the victim tackled the suspect, but the burglar managed to escape both times.  The victim then returned to his apartment and found his flat screen TV and laptop sitting on the back deck.

What would you do if you stumbled upon, or were at home, during a burglary in progress?  The first thing you should do, if someone breaks into your house and you are home, is to try and escape!  Get out of the house and find help, but if this is not possible then find the safest room to hide and take your cell phone with you.  Lock the door and barricade yourself in.  On the other hand, if you return home and find a door or window unexpectedly open, don’t go in.  Go to your nearest neighbor and call the police.  Hopefully, the police will get there in time to nab the culprit.

School Bus Safety Tips

Have peace of mind when sending your kids to school on the bus by teaching them the following safety tips, as provided by All Home Security, an online resource for home security monitoring.

1. Prepare:  Secure all school supplies in a backpack or bag to prevent dropping loose items.  Allow enough time to get ready for school.  Running to catch a late bus is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

2. Walk directly to the bus stop:  Walk to the bus stop in groups in an effort to be more visible to drivers. Also stay on sidewalks – or if there are none – stay out of the road.  Encourage children to look both ways before crossing the street and exiting driveways.

3. Wait for the bus:  Kids shouldn’t play games and should never push or shove others while waiting. They should also stand at least 10 feet away from the road by measuring with five giant steps.

4. Use caution when boarding:  Kids should look both ways before getting on and off the bus.  It’s also important to give the driver a note about dropping a child off at a different stop.

5. Ride safely:  Children should remain seated during the entire bus ride or until the driver says otherwise.  Keep aisles clear of backpacks and belongings.  It’s also a good idea to talk quietly, be polite and always follow the driver’s directions during an emergency.

Burglars used Social Network Status Updates to Select Victims

Police in Nashua, New Hampshire, say a band of burglars used social network status updates to select their victims.

The alleged thieves carried out an estimated 50 burglaries in just one month after gaining intelligence on properties that had been left vacant from status updates on social networking sites, such as Facebook.

According to WUMR9-TV, police recovered between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of stolen property as a result of the investigation.

“Be careful of what you post on these social networking sites,” said Capt. Ron Dickerson.  “We know for a fact that some of these players, some of these criminals, were looking on these sites and identifying their targets through these social networking sites.”

The thieves were brought down after some unique fireworks were stolen from one home.  Police were told to listen for anyone who might be lighting off that particular kind of firework.  An off-duty officer heard fireworks going off last month.  When he investigated, he found packaging that matched the fireworks taken in one of the burglaries.

Investigators said that led to the first of three suspects in the case.  Police arrested Victor Rodriguez, Mario Rojas and Leonardo Barroso on several charges that include burglary, and said more arrests are anticipated.

Police said they recovered everything from ammunition to electronics to remote-controlled cars.

Man Dies in Alleged Break-in Attempt

In La Margue (near Galveston, Texas), police say a homeowner shot and killed a man who apparently was trying to break-in.

Richard Anthony Murillo, 43, called 911 about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, reporting that he had fired about three shots and that a man was down, according to reporter T.J. Aulds of The Daily News.

The homeowner told police that he heard strange noises outside his house, walked outside, and opened fire. 

The homeowner is heard on the 911 recording telling police, “I need a unit out here quick.”  At first, the homeowner thought he had shot the man in the leg, but later his son is heard on the recording telling dispatchers that he believed the man had been shot in the abdomen.

Police are reviewing video from a home security surveillance system that reportedly captured most of the incident.  The homeowner is not expected to face any charges.

Canada Paints Speed Bumps to Look like Kids Playing in the Road

In West Vancouver, Canada, officials have introduced a new kind of speed bumps – ones that look like children playing in the road.  The hope is that drivers will slow down if they’re visually tricked into thinking a kid is right in front of their car.  

The first rollout of the speed bump consists of what appears to be a girl crossing the street.  The girl’s elongated form appears to rise from the ground as cars approach, reaching 3D realism at around 100 feet, and then returning to 2D distortion once cars pass that ideal viewing distance.  According to Discovery magazine, its designers created the image to give drivers who travel at the street’s recommended 18 miles per hour enough time to stop before hitting Pavement Patty–acknowledging the spectacle before they continue to safely roll over her.

Don’t Leave Valuable Items in your Vehicle

Leaving valuables in your vehicles is a big no, no.  Although this rule of thumb is probably right up there with, “don’t talk to strangers”, many of us do both.  However, it’s never too late to change.  Here’s what’s happening in Kansas City, Missouri -

The city’s North Patrol Division is experiencing a persistent problem of thefts from vehicles.  So far this year 26% of all reported crime (and 48% of all theft) are vehicle break-ins.  The key to prevention is a simple one – Don’t leave items in your car.

Here’s what Police Chief James Corwin has to say in his blog -

The most commonly stolen item is purses, and others often include cell phones, wallets, GPS devices and brief cases.  Often the victims of these thefts think it’s OK to leave such items in plain view in their car because they’ve locked their doors.  Someone who is going to steal your purse probably has few misgivings about breaking your window, as well.  Then, think about the cascade effect: you have to pay to replace the window (and possibly the door frame if the thief tried to pry your car’s door open); the thief will likely use your credit cards and it wouldn’t be unfair to assume you’ll be the victim of identity theft, as well. 

Bottom line – If you must leave something of value in your car, put it in the trunk before you get to your destination.

Burglars Pose as Utility Workers

Burglars posing as utility workers stole from two nearby homes in Torrance near Los Angeles.

In each case, the men lured residents into the backyard to discuss a problem with their utilities.  While one distracted the resident, the other entered the home and took property.

These cases are similar to what has been happening in LA’s Koreatown.  The Los Angeles Police Department says since March, criminals have been knocking on the doors of homes and telling residents they’re city utility workers, plumbers or repair technicians.  Once inside, one of the suspects distracts the resident while others steal items from inside the home.

The LAPD reminds everyone that city utility workers wear distinct uniforms and identification, and anyone identifying themselves as a city worker should present identification.  The public is advised not to open your door or allow the person to enter your home.  If there’s doubt, call police.