Monthly Archives: December 2010

Box that Held Gift could Lure Thieves to your Home

Leaving empty boxes outside that once housed flat-screens, computers, and other valuables is not a good idea.  Especially given that burglars likely will be lurking around the corner looking for something nice to steal.

“It’s pretty common that somebody gets a big-screen TV or some other item that has a box (and places the box outside their residence),” Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor told the Palestine Hearald-Press.  “That just advertises it to the crook what they got for Christmas. They need to cut up these boxes and put them in a bag.”

On the HouseLogic website, produced by the National Association of Realtors, several tips are given to prevent holiday crimes at your home. 

1. Do not advertise an empty house: Burglars in New Hampshire recently targeted a home because the occupant advertised to his Facebook “friends” that he was going out of town. Social networks have many benefits, but must be utilized with caution.

2. Always lock your doors: Seems simple, but always lock your doors (even if you are home). Security company ADT estimates that 40% of all burglaries are “no force entries,” meaning that the perpetrator gained entry through an unlocked door or window. Do not make it easy for a burglar.

3. Do not allow easy access to your garage: A Corpus Christi family reportedly left their garage door opener in their unlocked vehicle last month. They awoke to discover thieves used the opener to enter their garage and steal valuable tools, a lawn mower and other items.

Alarm Systems have Evolved

Home and business alarm systems are more efficient, affordable, and flexible than ever before.  What was once only found at high-end homes can be installed and found in homes and stores both big and small.  Thanks to technology, competitive pricing, and the do-it-yourself mentality, home security is for all.   

Did You Know?

Besides notifying an alarm monitoring station of a potential break-in, home alarms can incorporate monitored fire protection, carbon monoxide detection, water penetration, and sump pump failure alarms.  In addition, home surveillance systems are increasing in popularity, with people able to monitor their homes from a remote location or through mobile devices.

Shawn Morgan, an installation technician with Nelson Alarm in Indianapolis, talked with Indy Star reporter Angie Hicks -

“You can make sure your kids have gotten in fine; basically, keep an eye on your home,” Morgan said.

Plus, no longer are homeowners at the mercy of a working telephone landline to ensure their system operates without fail.  Morgan said options for those without home telephone service include Internet monitoring, cellular backups or Global system for Mobile Communication units.

“They’re designed so you don’t have to have an Internet connection or telephone line of any kind,” Morgan said.

Check your Insurance Policy before Leaving Town

According to Debbie Barret, general manager of marketing at FNB Insurance Brokers, your burglar bars and locks may be fine, but if your insurance policy isn’t, you might be in for a shock.

Before you leave town on a holiday trip, ask yourself if you’ve had a material change in security provisions without telling your insurer and adjusting your policy. If you’ve cancelled a contract with a professional security firm because you’ve been trying to save money, have you notified your broker? Has your body corporate decided to save costs by changing access and perimeter security? Again, you’ll need to notify your broker or insurer.

Also, check the amount of coverage you have. Without regular adjustment, there might be a mismatch between current replacement values and the insured amount.

“Don’t just go on leave and hope for the best,” says Barret. “Focus on changes in insured and replacement values and pay special attention to areas where you’ve economized. Those economies may be perfectly sensible and may have kept your outgoings under control during a tough business environment, but those cuts could also affect your insurance coverage. Everything you’ve saved and more might be lost in the event of a repudiated claim.”

Stay Safe when You’re Out & About this Christmas

Thieves know our holiday shopping habits and can make us vulnerable to theft while we’re out and about. They may break into cars or “shoulder surf” for credit card information and PIN numbers. When holiday shopping, keep these safety tips in mind, as reported by the Gate House News Service.

* Never leave shopping bags, wrapped gifts or other valuables visible inside the car. Always place them in the trunk. Thieves are more likely to break into a vehicle if they can see the loot in it.

* Carry only the credit card you need and one piece of ID when shopping. Leave your Social Security card at home or in a secure place.

* Be aware of whom might be looking over your shoulder as you type a PIN number.

* Never allow a store clerk to take your credit card out of your sight.

* Consider enrolling in an identity theft protection service that can alert you if your personal information is ever used incorrectly.

Home Invasions on the Rise this Holiday Season

In Louisiana, Sheriff Mike Couvillon is warning homeowners to take some time to assess the security of their homes this holiday season.  That’s because often the hustle and bustle of the holidays leaves people vulnerable to home invasions, which nationwide have been on the rise.

A home invasion is a form of armed robbery where criminals break into the home with the intent to commit a crime such as robbery, rape, assault or any violation of law against the occupants.

Sheriff Couvillon tells VermilionToday.com that the best weapon you have against home invasion is education.  He offers these tips –

Never open doors to strangers. During the holiday season criminals often pose as couriers carrying gifts or as solicitors for a charitable cause.

Always lock your doors and windows.

Invest in high-security locks, solid entry doors and window hardware.

Consider a home security system and even a dog.

Install bright outdoor lighting with motion detection.

If you have an alarm system, use it. Post warning signs or window decals on your property.

Trim bushes and trees so burglars can’t hide and so branches don’t block lighting.

Have an action plan for your family in case intruders enter.

Don’t fight over property with an intruder. Let them have the property; it is not worth your life and can be replaced.

If you suspect an intruder is in your home, do not enter and call 911 immediately!

What is on a Thief’s Christmas List?

What may be on your Christmas list is on a thief’s list too, especially given all the electronics that Santa will bring such as flat screen televisions and laptop computers.

Tulsa police Sgt. Brandon Watkins tells Nicole Marshall of Tulsa World that the holiday season presents different challenges to home security than the rest of the year.

“People are essentially advertising that they have new stuff in the house with the Christmas tree displayed in the front window,” Watkins said.

Meanwhile, Ron Witmer of Video Revolution says televisions are always in high demand at Christmas.  One of the most popular sizes this year is 55 inches, Witmer said.  That size means it’s more difficult for a thief, or even pair of thieves, to get away with.  Most flat panel televisions end up damaged when they are stolen, Witmer said.

“They often discover before they get too far down the road that they can’t carry them very far,” he said.

The televisions are probably more secure when they are hung on the wall, and there are locks that can be purchased for the wall mounts.

What should you do to protect your property?

“The best thing that they can do, and we have said it a billion times, is to write those serial numbers down. That is the most effective way we can track it,” Watkins said.

Police also caution people about placing their boxes outside after Christmas.

Secure Your Home before Migrating South

Snowbirds are people who leave their homes when the temperature drops and head south for warmer climates.  This means, while the snow falls on the northern states, snowbirds enjoy golf, sailing, and barbecues in more mild southern temperatures.  Then, after winter passes, they return home.  However, the idea is to return to your home exactly as you left it!  And this is where SECURITY comes in.  Answer the following questions before you depart home.

Did you suspend your newspaper and mail delivery or have a neighbor pick them up for you?

Does the house look lived in?

Did you set your lights on timers, in various rooms?

Did you ensure that all your doors and windows are locked and secure?  Don’t forget about the garage.  To be extra safe, place a bar or stick of wood in the lower track of sliding doors or windows.

Did you turn off the water-main and unplug the major appliances as an added precaution?

Did you inform a neighbor when you’re leaving and returning, and ask them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious?

Did you consider a home security system?

A home security system is a very effective deterrent. When looking for their targets, thieves usually select an unoccupied home with the easiest access. Why not make it difficult for them. A home protected by a monitored security system is less susceptible to a break in than one without a system. Security system decals and signs are also an effective deterrent