Imagine driving home after a long day at work. You’re tired, hungry and just want to get out of your work clothes for a relaxing night on the couch. As you pull up to your house, you notice the front door is open. Panic sets in.
According to the Phoenix Police Department’s crime statistics, more than 17,000 burglaries were reported in 2012. Home safety is not just about protecting your property; it’s about protecting yourself and your peace of mind as well. What can you do to prevent someone from breaking into your home? To find out what homeowners should do, we asked City of Phoenix Block Watch Coordinator, Officer Deb Iodice, for some advice.
What can homeowners do to boost home security when they’re away from home?
Officer Iodice: Check that all doors, windows and gates are locked. Make sure you have quality deadbolt locks correctly installed. (This includes securing the strike plate with quality screws that go into the framework of the wall.) Use secondary locks on windows, but remember to allow for safe fire egress; and check that your sliding windows and doors cannot be lifted from their track when closed.
What about outside the home? Are there things homeowners can do?
Officer Iodice: Keep your landscaping trimmed so your house is visible to your neighbors and people passing by. Having reasonable lighting around your house at night helps make would-be criminals visible. You’ll also want to make sure your house looks lived-in and looks like someone is home.
Do you think displaying a home security system sticker or sign on your property helps deter criminals?
Office Iodice: How legit does that sticker or sign look? If I call the number listed on it, what happens? Could it be a deterrent? Yes, it could. Just like fake cameras can be a deterrent. Some look real, while others are obviously fake.
Does owning a dog really help prevent criminals from breaking into a house, or is that a myth?
Officer Iodice: We teach people about layering protection for homes and vehicles. Dogs can be a great deterrent, [though] this may depend on the type of dog you have. An important thing to consider is your doggie door. Are you making it easier for the criminal to enter your house through the doggie door?
[Also,] keep in mind, an outside dog may bark all day long. That may not be enjoyable for your neighbors.
What should a homeowner do first after they find their home has been burglarized?
Officer Iodice: You may drive up to your house and realize the front door is open. Keep driving and call 911 from down the street. Sometimes you may not even realize it until you are in the house and you get to the room where your jewelry or laptop used to be. If you do not feel safe, go to a neighbor’s house and call 911 or Crime Stop at (602) 262-6151.
What other advice do you have? Are there things people frequently overlook in terms of home security?
Officer Iodice: It’s important to keep track of items that are valuable ahead of time. Take a photo and write down serial numbers. Put an identifying number on the item so if it is found, it can be returned. Many items will never get back to the owners because there is no way to trace it. Operation Identification is a great website designed to help people identify their valuable property.
Thanks for chatting. You offer some truly valuable advice.
This interview was edited and condensed. Officer Iodice also suggests visiting the Phoenix Police Department website, which has a variety of available brochures and resources, and attending community meetings held by the department to discuss issues occurring in neighborhoods throughout the city. Check out the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Block Watch website for more information about neighborhood safety programs in your immediate area.
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