Last month, we had a robbery.
Excuse me, a burglary. A burglary occurs when an individual enters without permission. Robbery involves theft of money or property through the threat or use of violence against a person.
The POS who broke in took things that are more sentimental than valuable, although because The PreTeen was on punishment, his electronic items were stacked neatly in the master bedroom, almost like we were giving these folks an easy pass. Explaining to my son what happened was difficult. Home is supposed to be a safe haven.
Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated experience. In the past few week, four other homes have been broken into the same way: waiting until the houses are empty, the thieves break in through a rear door usually by breaking a window and reaching in to open the door. Once they enter, they have a field day, tearing up the house to find valuables and leaving just as quickly as they entered. Delaware County has a horrendous heroin epidemic, and the detective who investigated our break in surmised that based on how the break-in happened and what was taken, it was probably some junkies looking for a fix.
The first few days after the break in, I was a wreck. I didn’t want to leave the house empty for fear that the thieves would return to take the rest of our meager possessions. I was suspicious of the neighbors, giving all kinds of side eye and closer looks at the less savory neighbors. I gave much attitude to the nonchalant way that the rest of the world went along, not a care or worry. It was suggested we move (already plotting this); get a new door (we have to, the effers destroyed our current door); add a security camera or system (cue my ex brother in law) and get steel bars for the windows.
I balk at the idea of steel bars. It’s bad enough that I had a week of paranoia, wasting some quality days skulking about the house because of the fear that someone would get back in, but the idea that I now have to view life through the shadows of steel bars, in a sense imprisoning myself to protect my things is ridiculous. Why should I have to accept this as a way of living? Why do hard working citizens have to adjust and adapt their lives for a few rotten apples?
Instead of being a victim, I vow to fight back. Here’s how you can also fight back. Most burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves. In two out of ten burglaries they don’t even have to use force – they get in through an open door or window. Do an audit of your home through the eyes of a burglar – are there places where they could break in unseen? Can you replace weak locks on doors and windows? Can a burglar break in silently or will they cause a ruckus by breaking glass?
<H2> Reduce the risk of burglary happening to you by making sure you’ve taken theses simple precautions: </H2>
1) Secure all Windows: Easily visible locks may deter some thieves, because a window lock forces the thief to break the glass and risk attracting attention. Lock away any ladders or other portable items that could be used to reach upper windows. If your house is going to be left empty, make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked and remember to set the burglar alarm.
2) Secure all Doors: If your front and back doors are not secure, neither is your home. Make sure the doors and frames are strong and in good condition. Use a deadlock with a key, so a thief can’t smash a nearby panel to open the door from the inside; if the thief gets into the property through a window they can’t carry your property out through the door.
3) Good Lighting: Good lighting can deter a thief. Some exterior lights have an infra-red sensor that switches the light on for a few moments when it detects something in its range.
4) Security Alarms: Visible security alarms make burglars think twice.
5) Property Maintenance: Trim or remove all overgrown vegetation in the front and rear of the property.
6) Records of Property: Keep receipts and record all serial numbers of valuable items. Take photos and keep a file of valuable items for easier identification.
7) Know Your Neighbors: By speaking to your neighbors, you will be more aware of who does and does not belong in your neighborhood. This seems like it’s akin to profiling but it’s not. When you know WHO should be coming in and out of your neighbors’ homes, thieves are less likely to target your community.
8) Report suspicious activity to 911.
Watching the way my neighborhood has changed, I refuse to be a victim and allow this to be the way it is. My new normal is going to be one of diligence, observation, and saying “Hello” to every person who passes my house.