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Arlington Heights Police Officer Doug Hajek Explains Residential Burglary Prevention, Including Lighting and Natural Surveillance

Sat August 10 2013 6:18 am
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VIDEO: Residential burglary prevention information from Arlington Heights Police Department police officer Doug Hajek.

Doug Hajek discusses Crime Prevention through Environmental Design — including lighting, landscaping, natural surveillance, sight lines, physical barriers, property protection.

Too much or overgrown landscaping can be an invitation for a burglar. Keeping trees pruned 6ft up and shrubs at least 3ft down is recommended.

A burglar can check your windows, window wells, doors and the whole exterior of the home without being seen clearly when your landscape is over-grown. He can work on your door or locks and nobody would know.

The front door happens to be the most common entry point for burglars. Most people think burglars look to break in a back door or window.

Think about this — if a person is standing at your front door they might look like they belong. You put that same person at the back door or at a back window and they are suspicious.

The burglar may knock on the door or ring the bell to make sure nobody is home before breaking in. If he gets no answer then he will go ahead and break in.

Remember, if a burglar wants to get in…he will find a way. We want to make it more difficult to get in. Or better yet we want the criminal to decide not to even try.

Many homes have solid wood doors and strong locks. Unfortunately those things are worthless without strong hardware. Check the screws which hold the deadbolt strike plate onto the frame. You might be surprised to find 3/4in screws which means only a small amount of the door frame is protecting your home. Change those to 3in screws or screws long enough to enter the 2×4 making up the house frame and the door will be more secure.

The longer screws should be used in all the exterior doors if applicable. Special attention should be given to the exterior access door to the garage which is often ignored by the homeowner. The same attention should be given to the door from your garage to the interior of your home. There will be applications where 3in screws are too long then adjust accordingly.

While burglars do break in windows they would rather not because of the noise it makes.

Sliding glass doors are another access point we can strengthen. Adding an anti-slide device, auxiliary locks and screws in the upper track are some of the ways to delay a criminal. The anti-slide device put in the lower track can be anything from a piece of conduit to an old pool cue. It is best to have this type of security feature visible from the outside.

Windows can be secured similarly to your sliding glass door. Anti-slide devices, window pinning, auxiliary locks are all effective. There are ways to secure all types.

One aspect of security often overlooked are window wells and ground level basement windows.

Leaving our doors unlocked or our garages open is like inviting the thief into your home.

Criminals are looking for this type of opportunity. If you leave your snow thrower or lawn mower in the front yard while you do some landscaping in the rear yard, don’t be surprised if item(s) gone when you return.

Burglars are always looking for the easiest target. They want to get in and out fast. A burglary can finish the job in just minutes. The two main reasons it happens so fast is poor physical security and the opportunity present when people place valuables in predictable locations.

Burglars target jewelry, watches, coins, cash and other smaller items of value which will fit into a pillow case. We don’t see too many burglaries when large items like TVs are taken. They really don’t know what you have inside your home unless you keep valuables in plain view.

While most burglaries occur during the day when we are all at work, school or shopping, lighting is still very important.

A well lit house is not as inviting to a criminal. It’s recommend that you keep all your exterior lights on all night long. Exterior lights that have dusk till dawn light sensors built-in the bulbs or have separate light sensor bases are a good suggestion. When it gets dark they turn on automatically, and when it gets light, they turn off. Some fixtures have built in sensors, or stores sell individual light-sensing bases for individual bulbs. You can also connect your exterior lights to a timer.

A well lit home will also allow neighbors, pedestrians and drivers to see your property and call 911 if they see someone suspicious.

When on vacation it is important to make our homes look occupied.

Think before you post your travel plans on social media. The wrong person may see you will be gone for a week and take advantage of that information.

Never hesitate to call 911 to report suspicious activity.

The Residential Burglary Prevention Public Service Announcement is brought to you by the Village of Arlington Heights with the help of Lorelle Productions, Arlington Heights Public Works, Arlington Heights Police Department and Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.

The video was produced by Lorelle Communications, Inc. of Arlington Heights.

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