Opinion

Keep yourself safe from burglaries | Column

According to FBI statistics more than two million homes across the United States are burglarized each year. Victims of burglaries reported an estimated $4.8 billion in lost property in 2011 with the average loss per homeowner being $2,185. Favorite items for criminals to steal are cash, jewelry, guns, watches and electronic devices.

While burglary, by definition, is a crime where there is no direct confrontation by a criminal, almost everyone who has had a home burglarized knows that it can leave a family feeling violated, vulnerable and angry.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that homeowners can do to lessen their risk of becoming a victim of burglary. Taking the time to “harden” your home against intrusion can decrease the odds of being burglarized. Criminals want to be successful in committing their crime and many will bypass your home if it requires too much skill or time to break into.

The Bothell Police Department (BPD) takes the investigation of burglary cases very seriously. During the last year, BPD has arrested a number of burglary suspects and has, on many occasions, recovered stolen items. We want to be able to identify and return property to the rightful owner but need your help. A few simple things that you can do that will increase the likelihood of getting your property back should your home be burglarized include taking the time to engrave your driver’s license number on your larger, valuable possessions, taking a video or photographs of your belongings, particularly your jewelry and other small valuables, and keeping the receipts from your larger purchases. Keep that information in a safe location such as a safety security box. Taking these practical steps will also help you with insurance claims in case of fire or flooding.

The Bothell Police Department believes the security of you and your family is the top priority. Should you find yourself the victim of a burglary or some other crime, call 911. We are here to serve you.

Bothell police burglary tips

1. Lock your doors, even when you are at home.

Remember this includes locking your garage door and back door. Burglars know that these doors often the weakest point of entry and provide the most cover from being observed.

2. Lock your windows or block them from fully opening.

Most windows have latches, not locks and so homeowners should use secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Windows should be blocked so that they open no more than six inches. Make sure that a person can’t reach and remove the blocking device.

3. Trim shrubs/landscaping that obscures windows and doors.

Taking this simple precaution will prevent a burglar from being able to hide from view while trying to enter your home.

4. Observe and report!

Be observant. If you believe someone or something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. If you see something suspicious, call the police immediately.

5. Be a Good Neighbor

Get to know the people who live near you and exchange contact information with them.  Notify neighbors when you will be out of town.

6. Keep your home well lit.

A dark house can signal that no one is home. Connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.

7. Document your valuable property.

Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including description of the items, serial numbers, and original value (receipts if you have them). Keep a copy in a safe place away from home such as a safety deposit box or at a relative’s home. This is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters too.

Engrave all of your valuable property with your driver’s license number.

Photograph jewelry and consider having expensive jewelry appraised.

8. Keep small valuables stored out of view.

Do not leave cash, valuable jewelry, credit cards and other small valuables out where they are readily visible.

9. Install a quality Alarm System.

Make sure the system has an audible component. Advertise your alarm system with decals and lawn signs. Make sure your alarm response call list is up to date. If you have it, use it!

10. Secure your vehicle.

If you park your vehicle in the driveway, keep your garage door opener out of sight.

 

Carol Cummings is the Bothell Chief of Police.

 

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