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Even the Safest Towns Aren’t So Safe Anymore

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April 17, 2012
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Even the Safest Towns Aren’t So Safe Anymore

I recently wrote on crime statistics and consistent trends over the past several years: gradual decreases in most types of crime, but a corresponding increase in residential crime. Even in those few jurisdictions where residential crime has gone down, it has gone the least of any criminal activity. And that means more burglars across the US are more active, which is fueling the rise in home security sales. In fact, there are roughly 2 million new home alarm systems purchased every year – and that number is growing. And as this article from Maplewood, Minnesota demonstrates, even a historically safe town in the heartland is feeling the pain of increased crime.

It was the usual morning rush at the Maplewood home, where father and husband Dave was trying to get his kids ready to be driven to school. Dave was first to step into the attached garage, noting distractedly that there was a hand tool lying on the step. "Huh. One of the kids must have left that there," he thought. Rounding the side of one of the cars parked inside, he saw that wasn't the case. Items from both the family's vehicles were strewn all over the garage floor. Tools and equipment had been examined and tossed aside. It was all pretty clear, especially with the morning sun streaming in through the open garage door -- which Dave realized must have been left open all night.

What They Stole

The losses: a GPS unit and some change from the cars, as well as a circular saw from the garage. Not only had the burglars apparently taken the time to use a flashlight from one of the vehicle's glove boxes to look around the garage for loot, they seem to have been in the mood for more. "Fortunately, I always lock the service door from the house to the garage," Dave says. "My guess is they tried that door and wanted to get through it, and that's why the tool was lying on the step." Dave's monetary losses were about $500-$600, and he's planning an investment in extra security. "They spent a reasonable amount of time in there looking through things," he says. "It makes you uneasy."

Easy Access

Andy wasn't so lucky. One unfortunate oversight led to a vehicle theft and left his home open to burglars. It's a pattern suburban police departments see often, with busy families trading cars back and forth, wanting fast access to their vehicles and the convenience of a handy key should someone get locked out. "This homeowner did what many people do," Maplewood Deputy Police Chief Dave Kvam says of Andy's predicament. "The garage door and home were secure; however, the car in the driveway contained a garage door opener." Once the burglars spotted that, it was a relatively straight shot from the vehicle into the otherwise secure home: smash car window, open garage door, rifle garage and vehicle inside, find door between house and garage unlocked, and take keys to both the car and house. Thus, Andy stepped out of his home one morning and found he'd lost the car parked in the driveway -- as well as his family's peace of mind.

Police Point of View

"Clearly, determined thieves could enter a house, locked or not, but most criminals are pretty opportunistic," Kvam advises. "Locking doors and windows, trying not to visually advertise desirable items to the passing public, and getting to know your neighbors and knowing what and who belongs and who doesn't are great, inexpensive steps each of us can take to help reduce the odds of becoming a victim."

Another great step is getting an alarm system with safer cellular monitoring – from FrontPoint!

Peace of Mind: Priceless

"I did a lot of things wrong," Andy says frankly. He's out about the same amount as Dave is on replacements and improvements, although both his missing vehicle and a GPS unit the thieves apparently tried to pawn have been returned. "I had to go get the car from the impound lot. And with the house keys missing, I'm replacing deadbolt locks and that's about $260. And there's the perceived loss of security, which I guess was priceless."

It Can't Happen Here

Maplewood, east of St. Paul, just doesn't feel like a burglary target. And Andy moved to Minnesota from Los Angeles, where he says he had to be mindful of security all the time. "Things were so different here." Both men sound resigned as they discuss the newly realized realities of making sure possessions and loved ones are secure.

As the police say, make sure you are doing everything you can so your home is not a target. Follow FrontPoint’s Top Ten Home Security Tips – including installing a monitored alarm system. Your peace of mind is worth a lot, so there’s nothing more important than protecting your home and family. And that’s where FrontPoint comes in: the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US. When you are ready for safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat, FrontPoint is your clear choice – all across the US.

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