Citizens feel safest at home, as they should.  Unfortunately criminals use careful deliberation in determining which home they wish to steal property or cause damage.  As a citizen you can take simple precautions to prevent your home from being selected as an easy target.  These are just a few suggestions on how to keep your home safe.

Exterior lights:  A lit exterior deters a criminal in the most primitive form.  Criminals attempt to remain unseen and cannot do so if your home is illuminated.  Lights also benefit the homeowner by allowing them to see their property and anyone around it.  Motion lights outside of the home alert individuals about movement outside their property.  It is suggested to have porches, garages, or sheds illuminated with a light.  Walkways to the front door and front or back porches also benefit from lights.  Lights are an inexpensive way to deter criminals.

Interior lights:  It is never suggested to walk into a dark room when arriving home.  Leaving a room illuminated if you plan to return after dark is always suggested.  If you plan a vacation or time away from your home, consider lights on a timer, causing it to appear as if the home is occupied.  If you do not own a timer, consider having a trusted friend or family respond to the residence periodically to change the lights illuminated inside.  Contacting law enforcement regarding additional patrol during this time is also suggested, you can contact the police department to request a vacation watch.

Know the access points:  Take a walk around your property, paying close attention to access points of your home.  Are there bushes or shrubs below each window?  This allows a quick hiding spot for criminals as they are attempting to gain access through a window.  Consider lighting behind the shrubs or removing large landscaping pieces which provide hidden areas.  View your crawl space access points to determine if they are secure and easily visible.  Check the garage door and exterior building entry points.  Ensure entrances are not easily opened and locks secure sufficiently.  You may speak with an officer to obtain further information of trending criminal behaviors and ways to prevent them.

Secure everything:  Criminals are often motivated by opportunity.  With this in mind, please remember to secure all of your property.  Lock belongings inside the residence or garages.  Do not leave property outside while not in use.  Padlocks can easily be cut.  Tubular disk locks provide the maximum security, deterring the use of bolt cutters to be used to gain access.  These locks are available at many retailers and are estimated $10 to $15.  Always keep your doors and windows locked on your residence, garage, and any sheds or buildings.

Alarms and security cameras:  Alarm systems can deter criminals because audible alarms bring attention to your residence.  If you own a residential alarm system, arm it at all times.  Visible reminders of an alarm system are also a deterrent.  Security cameras can be extremely beneficial in identification of a crime, or a deterrent if a criminal is aware of them.   While high technologically advanced cameras and security systems can be advantageous, a simple game camera or single alarm system also assist in deterring a criminal from your home and aid in the identification of a criminal on your property.

Be aware:  Never answer the door without knowing who is there.  A small peephole with a wide view lens allows you to know if it is an acquaintance at your residence.  You could also utilize a small window near the door without being detected.  If a stranger is at your door, it is always best to remain inside and contact the police department to investigate.  Take note of descriptions of the individual to provide to law enforcement, making it easier for the officer to identify the subject.

Don't advertise:  Do not place information at the edge of the curb, advertising what could be inside.  Upon the purchase of a new television or electronics, do not place the empty boxes at the curb with the trash can.  This allows criminals to determine what valuable items are inside your residence.  The best way to dispose of the large box is to cut it into smaller pieces to be placed inside a bag.  Allowing your garage door to remain open for extended amounts of time advertises the property contained inside the building.  Criminals often lurk around the neighborhood prior to deciding which house to burglarize.  Being able to look inside the garage door from the roadway, they can determine if they want to burglarize your residence.  Keeping curtains or blinds closed on windows also prevents criminals from looking inside windows when no one is home.  During your inspection of your property, look inside windows to see what criminals may observe.  Closing curtains and blinds on windows which view televisions or personal valuables would be advantageous while residents are not home.

Identification:  Having easily identifiable address numbers posted on your mailbox or residence, allow officers and rescue personnel to respond to your residence quickly in the event of an emergency.  Large, reflective numbers posted on the mailbox by the roadway, above the garage door, or on the exterior most portion of the front entryway are the most visible options.  The Strafford Fire Department has red, reflective address markers available for purchase.  These markers are placed at the edge of your property, adjacent to the roadway to allow police and fire departments to easily identify your address.

Preparing for theft:  If your household has experienced a theft, the responding officer will request an abundance of information.  The more information provided to the officer, the better capability of locating and returning your property.  Preparing a list of pertinent information prior to an incident is widely beneficial.  Information should be collected on all items of value in your residence, including televisions and other electronics, jewelry, firearms, etc.  Property is entered into a nationwide database as stolen by the serial number.  Complete a list with the following information:
          Serial number
          Make and model numbers
          General descriptions with any identifying marks or additions
          Approximate value
          Description of all jewelry

Compiling a list with all of this information can not only assist law enforcement officers, but is beneficial to insurance companies as well.  Maintain the list in an accessible area, preferably a safe, and update as necessary.

US-Home-Burglary-and-Robbery-Statistics - Copy