By January 4, 2017

Preventing Burglary: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

lock-stop-thief-tallBy Robert Roy Britt — The most common crimes in our area are burglaries of cars, garages and homes, said Phoenix Police Officer Tim Mitten. Many are “crimes of opportunity,” meaning the victim made the target accessible. “Most burglars are not going to target someone,” Mitten explained. “They’re looking for something easy, anything unsecure.”

Deterrence is key, experts say. Here’s how, according to the good guys and the bad guys.

What the Bad Guys Say

In a study funded by an advocacy group for the alarm industry, University of North Carolina researchers asked 422 convicted burglars what deters them from breaking into a house. Among the most-often cited deterrents:

  • People and/or dogs in the house
  • Alarms and alarm signs
  • Outdoor surveillance cameras

How do they get in? “Most burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open,” the researchers found. “About one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry.”

What the Good Guys Say

Lock Your Car As many as 85 percent of thefts from autos involve unlocked vehicles with valuables in plain sight, Mitten told In&Out; most occur at night.

Lock Your Home Most residential burglaries occur in broad daylight, Mitten said. So whenever you’re away, even for a few minutes, lock all doors and windows. Do that and most thieves will go elsewhere, he said.

Close the Garage “It only takes 15 seconds to steal your golf clubs,” said Loyd Nygaard, chairman of Anthem Neighborhood Watch.

Install a Security Door Mitten calls this extra layer of prevention on your front door one of the easiest ways to thwart a break-in.

Lock Your Side Gate Criminals love an easy way into the backyard. “Putting a simple lock on the gate will prevent a lot of burglaries,” Mitten said.


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Light it Up Light your entry and driveway well enough to illuminate anyone walking by, Mitten advised. Use timers to turn inside lights on when you’re away.

Bring Stuff In Don’t leave bikes, toys or tools outside unattended. And don’t hide a key outside—thieves know all the usual hiding spots.

If You See Something, Say Something Nygaard suggests getting to know two sets of neighbors on the left, right and across the street—and swap phone numbers. Tell them—and law enforcement—of any suspicious activity. The more calls police get, the more resources they’ll dedicate to that neighborhood, he said.

Join Neighborhood Watch Fewer crimes are reported in areas with neighborhood watch programs, according to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). They’re particularly successful against vandalism, burglaries and auto theft.

Install Video Surveillance For business owners, video surveillance “is almost imperative for us to try and catch some of these people,” according to MCSO Sgt. Ben Freeman. “It is huge,” Freeman said at a recent business roundtable in Anthem. Multiple cameras offer a better chance of a face shot, and provide investigators with more information, such as where the person might have left fingerprints, he said. In homes, an obvious system can act as a deterrent. The quality should be high enough to identify faces and license plate numbers.

Arrange Vacation Watch When away, enlist a friend or neighbor to keep an eye out. Residents of Anthem, Tramonto and New River can register for Vacation Watch with the North Valley Posse, which will “regularly check homes” for anything out of the ordinary. 

Get an Alarm System, But… While visible alarm components can be a deterrent, “most burglars realize that even after the alarm sounds, they have at least 10 minutes before the police arrive,” the NCPC said. So, while it save you on homeowners insurance, alarms should not be singularly relied upon.

Get a Dog Many criminals would rather not mess with canines. Big dogs look intimidating and little yappers attract attention. But it’s no guarantee: “We’ve interviewed burglars after catching them,” Mitten said, “and some aren’t afraid of alarms, and some aren’t afraid of dogs.”

Important Contacts

Crime in Progress Dial 9-1-1

Non-emergency Crimes/Suspicious Activity
Phoenix Police: 602-262-6151
Maricopa County Sheriff: 602-876-1011

Neighborhood Watch
Phoenix
Anthem

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