Did you ever dial 911 as a kid just to see if it worked? I did. I remember doing that and hanging up several times. About 15 minutes later, there was a knock at my door. My mom walked over to the door and opened it with caution because we were not expecting anyone. There was a tall man standing at my door with a deep voice, black slacks, freshly ironed shirt and a shiny silver badge asking, “Is everyone okay? We had several 911 calls from this residence and the person kept hanging up.”
My mom looked over her left shoulder and in a stern voice asked me, “Were you playing with the phones?”
I reluctantly said, “Yes, but I hung up right away when it started to ring. I just wanted to see if it worked.”
After my mom told the officer that she would handle it (and she did), I started to think about the time it took for the officer to get to my house.
I am an adult now, married with kids. I own things of value; things that are my own and do not belong to my parents. I own my home.
If someone were to break into my home today, and I called 911, how long would it take for them to get there? Do they have any weapons? Are they just there to steal my things? Is it someone coming to harm me? What should I do?
I have an alarm system that I try to set everytime I leave the house and when I go to sleep. If someone were to open any window or door in my house, the alarm will sound. I have glass break alarms to alert me if someone breaks the glass to get it. Is that enough? Should we protect ourselves even further?
I know that if my alarm goes off, the alarm company makes a series of phone calls to people that I have specified such as myself, my wife, etc… If we do not answer or if someone says that nobody should be in the house, the alarm company calls the local police department. After we have wasted a few minutes, the dispatcher sends an officer to my house from who knows how far away. By this time, my valuables are most likely gone, and so are the robbers. If I am home when this happens, I keep my home protected with weapons. I am the carrier of a CHL (concealed hangun license) that I obtained locally. I live in Texas and we believe in utilizing your 2nd amendment rights.
My next step may be to get video monitoring of my house. Will this stop a robber? No, most likely not. The cameras may make someone think twice if they picked the right house, but still cannot stop them. However, instead of showing up to your house, empty and rooted through with no idea who it was, a video will provide you that extra level of information to turn into the police.
15 tips to Prevent Home Burglary
Every 15 seconds, a home in the U.S. gets burglarized, but we have so many ways to reduce our chances of becoming a victim.
It is a frightening thought that in the time it takes you to read through this — 10 minutes — 40 homes would have been burglarized. That is one home burglary every 15 seconds.
Some of these took place by strangers, others by friends or family, some could even be the guy that came to sell you magazines or profess the bible to you; all a set-up to scope out your house and leave a bathroom window open or unlocked. Some of these could be experienced crooks, some could have just been patrolling the neighborhood and happened to see an open window with a warm apple pie cooling in the sill.
Whoever they are, we know from studies that it takes less than a minute for someone to break into your house and typically they spend just over 10 minutes inside your home, grabbing all they can before their get-away. Some even pose as contractors or furniture movers and can clean an entire house out, right in front of the police.
This blog was prompted by my interest in new digital security, my desire to help others, and a friend of mine who was recently a victim of burglary.
If you get home and notice something isn’t right, do not go in to check it out. The robbery could not yet be over and you may unwittingly scare a thief and you could end up hurt. If you happen to already be inside and notice things missing or things don’t look or sound right, retreat! Go out to your car and call the police. Keep yourself safe!
15 Home Burglary Tips
(from Elicka S.L. Peterson-Sparks, a criminologist and Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Appalachian State University)
People are your best defense — be a visibly nosy neighbor. Let anyone walking the neighborhood or sitting in a parked car see you watching them.
Make a note of car license plates and if anyone behaves suspiciously or stays in their car for a lengthy period, call the police.
Tell close neighbors you trust if you plan to be away or expect any deliveries.
If they’re in the know they’re more likely to notice something you didn’t mention and spot unexpected callers at your home (burglars often call at the front door of a house to check if anyone is there).
And, if you are going away, use timers to switch lights on and off at random, cancel newspapers and put a hold on your mail deliveries — or, to guard your schedule, arrange for the trusted neighbor to collect them.
Having a dog is a huge deterrent. Ironically, burglars are far more likely to avoid a house with a small dog than a big one — small dogs tend to be nervous and less easy to trick into calming down. They’re less trustful and bark louder and longer.
Take a walk around your home, inside and out, to figure where the weakest link in your security might be — like leaving a window open in a secluded spot.
High-risk places include the door from your garage into the house, back doors, side “breezeways” where a burglar would not be seen, and large shrubs close to the residence where thieves could hide.
Take action to increase protection in these vulnerable places — like installing keyed window locks and deadbolts on doors and using toughened glass in windows and doors. Remove those shrubs.
If you leave windows open on the second floor, make sure your extension ladder is locked away.
Be wary about who you allow into your home and how much information you give about your belongings and schedule.
This applies even with neighbors you don’t know or fully trust (“inside” jobs are not uncommon). And don’t leave valuables in view, inside or from outside the house.
If you’re able, vary the times you leave and return home. If your household has several cars, vary who drives them, making it more difficult for an observer to know who is home and when.
Make it tough for home burglary prowlers to know whether they’re under surveillance.
Fake cameras can be good — but only if they could be taken for the real thing, not cheap plastic devices with flashing lights, which home burglars easily identify.
Fake security stickers or signs don’t work either, but, if you have an alarm, real stickers and signs work.
Control access to and around your property. Consider motion-activated lights, even on the street outside your home.
Neighborhood Watch, Video Surveillance, No Parking,and No Outlet signs can be effective against home burglary too. This way, would-be thieves know you mean business.
Motion-activated cameras are another powerful weapon — both as a home burglary deterrent and, linked to a computer (and, better yet, to a home network), to record images of your unwelcome visitors.
These days, these devices are inexpensive. Network-linked cameras costing around $85 can even email images so you have an off-site backup (ours sends images automatically to a separate gmail account, so even if the camera is disabled, we still have the pictures online).
An alarm system, preferably with a visible box outside the house, will not only deter crooks but sound an immediate alert of a home burglary.
You might seriously consider a system that’s monitored 24/7 by a security company who will quickly notify law enforcement of an incident.
Gates, both to your property and in gated communities, can also be a home burglary deterrent, (even if there is another way out). If you have a guarded, gated community, use “Resident” stickers.
Renters could have a temporary sticker they must surrender at the end of their lease, while visitors collect a pass which they must return on leaving.
Avoid creating temptation. Don’t leave things like lawn mowers and bikes unattended outside; lock them up.
Inside, burglars are more likely to go for “middle of the road” valuables than expensive jewelry and appliances — because they’re easier to redeem for cash.
- Don’t hide a key. Home burglary crooks know all those “secret” places.
Elicka recalls: “I interviewed a burglar who hit the same house every few years for 30 years.
“Astonishingly, as he was showing us what he liked about it, he jumped out of the car to show us where they had hidden the key, over the door, for about 10 years!”
Statistically, if you have been burglarized once, your are more likely to be burglarized again, so you need to take extra precautions.
And second, home burglaries can involve much more than the theft of your valuables.
If the crooks steal personal and confidential information, you could become a victim of another major scam –identity theft.
You can get your whole home video monitored for less than $1000.
I use an alarm company for 24/7 monitoring of my windows and doors and they don’t cost too much per month.
Want to get your CHL (concealed handgun license) in Texas?
Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Stanberry & Associates