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While residential crime stats are widely available, and remain stubbornly high across the U.S., many homeowners are still in the dark about the details on home intrusions, and how to make it harder for burglars to rob you of your peace of mind. That’s why I thought this story from Tulsa, Oklahoma would be so helpful.
Every 14 minutes and 19 seconds a burglar breaks into a house in Oklahoma. Nearly four homes are violated each hour, which means your house may be a prime target. So, 2NEWS went to work to find the best ways to keep your home and family safe.
Burglary Is a Business
"It's about breaking into as many houses as you can, getting as many items as you can, turning it into as much cash as you can," according to Detective J.D. Barnett with the Tulsa Police Burglary Unit.
He warns burglary is a business to many desperate people. "We've arrested burglars who have been breaking into as many as five to eight houses a day," Barnett said. "And they do it five days a week."
The majority of home burglaries occur in the daytime when the homeowner is away at work.
Police say burglars want easy money, but work hard to avoid detection. They begin by driving through neighborhoods, looking for signs that a home is empty and no neighbors are watching. The next step is knocking on the front door to see if anyone will answer.
"My dog started barking and someone was knocking on the front door," said one Broken Arrow burglary victim. "Walked over to my front door and looked out the peep hole and - I didn't know, I never seen this guy before."
What Happened Next
She did what most of us would do: she kept quiet and did not open the door to a stranger.
"They kicked through the glass storm door and kicked through the front door," she told 2NEWS.
Because burglars look for empty houses, Det. Barnett says it is important to answer the door. Do not open it. Just call out. "If you say, 'Who's there?' They'll say, 'Oh, I'm looking for John' and leave," Barnett added. "If you don't answer the door, it might be a burglar. They kick in the door and then you are in the house with a burglar and that could be dangerous."
What You Can Do
The first step is to assess the exterior of the home, according to Brad Binder, Ph.D., an expert in home security with W.R. Associates, Inc.
- Be sure trees and shrubs are trimmed so no one can hide behind them.
- All exterior doors, windows and even gates in fences should be well lit.
- Place lights, and even televisions and radios on timers so it appears someone is always home.
- Inspect doors and locks.
Don't Tempt a Thief
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the number of home burglaries increased 4.4 percent from 2002 through 2011. Too often, agents say, Oklahomans make it easy for burglars to get in. Studies show one out of four times intruders get in through unlocked doors and windows. Authorities say we also make it easy for a "snatch and grab" crime by walking into the house and not locking the door right away.
Security systems offer another strategy to deter a burglary. It is important to post security system signs in front of the home and on windows and doors, security experts advise. They serve as a visual deterrent to the person casing a house. Without signs, a burglar may break in and still ransack the home even while the alarm is blaring. Most know it will take time for neighbors to notice or the alarm company to notify authorities.
Video cameras are an increasingly popular addition to home security systems. Once again, signs warning of video surveillance may fend off a burglar. Cameras may also capture the intruder in action, documenting the crime. In a recent East Tulsa burglary, police took the homeowner's pictures to nearby schools in an attempt to identify the young man who came through the front door. Such video documentation proves invaluable during court proceedings, detectives say.
Finally, neighbors may offer a solid security backup, too. Alert neighbors call police when they spot cars and people who are out of place. Neighborhoods with formal "Alert Neighbors" programs report marked improvements in safety and decreases in crime.
How an Alarm System Helps
Of course, talking about alarm systems as an effective deterrent is music to our ears. For a long time getting an alarm system was considered an “event-driven” purchase: something bad had to happen to convince homeowners to make that investment in peace of mind. And yes, FrontPoint offers a full line of equipment and services, including video, to help you feel secure.
Times are Changing
That traditional attitude of “Wait for an event” is changing now: plenty of people just want to protect their home and family, and to do everything they can to prevent an incident in the first place. And with alarm systems doing so much more, including home automation, video, and text or email notifications,there are more reasons than ever to make the modest investment in wireless home security.