Six Tips to Keep Your Home Safe
by Peter von Buol
As temperatures continue to increase, the editors of the Crime in Wrigleyville/Boystown blog CWBChicago.com warn ward residents to be aware that criminal activity increases in warm weather. They add the importance of always being aware of one’s surroundings. Also, encourage others to take preventative measures. Here are their six tips.
Tip 1: Be sure to properly secure window mounted air-conditioning units.
Window-mounted air-conditioning units are common, especially in older homes. It is critically important that to secure these units, so they cannot be pushed in from the outside. Since 2001, more than 40 percent of the burglaries in the 19th District did not involve the use-of force to gain access. In other words, burglars simply walked through unlocked doors or crawled through an open window. Pushing in a window unit remains a favorite way for a burglar to gain easy-access to a residence. In addition to securing the A/C unit with internal screws, install an external bracket. Both actions deter burglars.
Tip 2: Put your address on the rear of your home
Put the address on the rear of your home, garage, or fence so it is easily visible from the alley. If possible, include the street name, along with the numbers. When police are called to an address, officers frequently respond to the front and rear of the location. Installing an alley-facing address will help emergency-responders find your home. This is another suggestion that we learned about from talking to police officers after starting our work at CWB.com. Many aldermanic offices offer free adhesive address numbers. For about six-dollars per digit, brass or metal numbers are available from Amazon.com or local retailers.
Tip 3: Keep everything out of sight
As hard as it may be, avoid leaving anything in your parked car. Even if an item has little or no monetary value, someone else may think otherwise. If nothing is isible, the odds are much greater that a car break-in artist will move on to another vehicle. At home, keep unattended valuables out of sight. With warmer weather, doors and windows are likely to be open. Every year, CWB.com covers stories about quick-hit specialists who use every opportunity to snatch purses, car-keys, phones, tablets and other common items that were visible from outside.
Tip 4: At all times, make your house appear occupied
Make your home appears occupied, even if you are at work, or on an errand. A quiet home attracts burglars. Be sure to leave a TV or radio on while you are out. That just may be enough of a deterrent to make a would-be burglar move on to another potential target. An activated TV suggests that someone is inside. Also, leave a light on when you go out. A “Beware of Dog” sign is another effective deterrent. It provide a powerful return on investment-even if you do not own a dog.
Tip 5: Redouble garage security
Take a few minutes to give the garage a solid (and honest) security review. Is its door-frame rotted? Are there any loose knobs? Does the lock work? Are all the windows secure? For just a few dollars, get everything back in working order. After all, doors don’t really work if they can be opened with just some elbow grease. Does the garage have any windows? Cover them up so people cannot see what is inside. Place a motion-activated light over the door or window.
Tip 6: Know how to track your cell phone
Nearly every cellphone provider or manufacturer offers a way to track lost or stolen phone, for a fee. But, this feature must be activated before it is missing. It only takes 15 minutes to set up. With Android phones, set up a Google account for the phone. Then, if the phone is missing and needs to be located, long in to Google and type “Find my Android.” Quickly, a map will appear and show the phone’s location. Apple has a similar system. An account name and password are required. Chicago police are increasingly asking robbery and theft victims to log on to their accounts, so offenders can be located. Be sure to memorize or retain account log-in information in an easily accessible place.