Burglary Prevention Tips by Takoma Park Police: Burglary is an opportunist crime. A burglar will select his target because it offers him the best opportunity to carry out his crime undetected and with the fewest number of obstacles in his way. A home that presents itself as insecure is far more likely to be targeted than one which is properly secured. Please review the following in order to protect your home and your valuables:
1. The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes! Report burglaries immediately! Get to know your neighbors!
2. If you do encounter a burglar in your home, please attempt to secure yourself in a room where you have access to a phone and immediately contact police. Do not confront suspect(s) or attempt to fight and/or chase after suspect(s).
3. Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence. If you have not checked your house, let the police check it for you. Leave the house and call the police.
4. It’s important to keep a list of serial numbers and/or receipts of all electronic equipment, i.e., televisions, cell phones, iPads, computers, as well as a list of items that are easily sold or pawned, i.e., jewelry, collectibles. Photographs or videos are always useful to keep a record of what you own (and insurance companies would also find this useful and convenient). Update your list periodically and do not leave it in the residence, if possible. Use an engraving pen to write your current driver’s license number on your property. Burglars don’t want marked merchandise.
5. Make it time-consuming for a burglar to break into your home – secure your residence! Sometimes installing deadbolt locks on all exterior doors or windows will deter a criminal; they don’t want to spend too much time in one place. Check and double-check that all doors and windows are shut and locked before you leave the house; even if you are leaving for a short period of time.
6. Display “Beware” signs. If you have a dog or an alarm system, put up signs that say you do. They do deter thieves. Residential alarms should be designed so as to give protection when you are inside as well as when you are away.
7. When you leave your residence, do not leave valuables in plain sight. For instance, if your dining room table is within view of a window, don’t leave a laptop computer sitting there. When possible, pull shades or curtains so that property cannot be seen from outside the residence.
8. Be one step ahead of the burglar – case your own home and look for easy ways into your home and then take appropriate measures to correct it. Takoma Park Police offer a home security survey free of charge. A residential security survey is an inspection of your home, performed by a police officer, in an effort to identify possible improvements to the physical security of your residence and to review personal safety and security habits. The goal is to decrease the likelihood that you might be victimized by a crime. Home security surveys are offered to homeowners living in the City of Takoma Park, by appointment. They generally take about an hour of your time and can be set up during evening hours. To schedule a security survey and a review of personal safety issues, please call us at 301.270.1100. Link: https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/police/services-and-programs/residential-home-security-survey/
9. An overview of what constitutes suspicious behavior is provided below. If you see someone displaying suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, call the police. If you see a vehicle displaying suspicious behavior, call the police. Write down the license plates of any suspicious vehicles. Write down a description of any suspicious persons who are exhibiting suspicious behaviors. You can never be too careful. A lack of information on suspects can hinder an investigation.
When people are going for a walk through your neighborhood, they generally walk with a purpose and are just passing through. Suspicious behavior or activity can be any action that is out of place and does not fit into the usual day-to-day activity of your neighborhood. For example:
- looking into house or car windows
- pulling on house door knobs or vehicle car doors
- walking aimlessly in backyards
- walking into garages and sheds
- hiding behind shrubbery or trees
- seeming nervous and looking over their shoulders
- claiming to represent a utility company, but not wearing a uniform and does not produce identification upon request or does not have a company logo vehicle
- carrying property at an unusual hour or location, especially if they are attempting to hide the item
- using binoculars or other devises to peer into apartment and home windows
- sitting in a vehicle for extended periods of time
- abruptly changing behavior when seen
- dressing inappropriately for the weather (having a coat on when the temperature is warm/hot)
- leaving packages, bags or other items behind
- driving a vehicle slowly and aimlessly through the neighborhood several times
- parking and idling inside vehicles in front of home
10. Burglars in most instances will case a neighborhood or the routine of residents. Every once in a while, leave at a different time. Change your routine to throw the burglar off. If you are not consistent, how can they be?
11. Burglars know where to look for hidden keys. Do not leave one.
12. Remember that you do not have to answer your door. Once you do, you are easily vulnerable. Do not open for a stranger. Verify who is there. Have him/her step to where you can see who it is. When in doubt, send him/her away. Be sure that a peephole viewer is installed.
These tips are not intended to scare or frighten anyone, however, crime is a fact of life everywhere. As partners, we can discourage criminals from targeting certain areas. We can make it hard for them. Let’s make a difference together. Let’s demonstrate to the criminals that we are putting them on notice that they will be caught!”