Monday, January 25, 2010

Home Burglary

A Home Burglary occurs every 15 seconds according to the FBI. This does not mean that you have to be a victim. There are common sense things you can do to secure your home, and most of them do not cost a lot of money. Some are free.

First, always lock all windows and doors, even when you are home. Easter Sunday a year ago my neighbor was at church and her elderly mother was home in her bedroom. A miscreant walked up their driveway, opened the kitchen door and walked right in. Fortunately we are vigilant in my neighborhood and another neighbor just happened to be washing his truck down the street and witnessed what could have turned into a tragedy.

If your doors do not have deadbolts - get them. A proper deadbolt will be keyed on both sides if your door has a window. The bolt should have a one inch throw, and strike plate should have three-inch screws. Your outside doors should be solid wood core, or steel.Other than replacing a door, the rest is a relatively minor upgrade.

Your windows should have stops, and secondary blocking devices as latches do not act as a secure deterrent to forced entry. Something as simple as a cut broom handle to prevent a closed window from being lifted works wonders.

Lighting - criminals do not like to be seen. Install motion detect lights - high enough to be out of reach of the nefarious minded - around the perimeter of your home. Install light timers in key rooms in your house.

Remove hedges and bushes that could provide cover, especially if they are in front of windows or your porch.

Alarm systems can be effective as a deterrent - but they are only as good as the other precautions you take to secure your property. They work as a deterrent only because some intruders fear being caught. However, better than a security system, get a dog.

Dogs provide companionship, are cheaper to maintain than a security system, and are mobile. We have three dogs, and all of them bark when someone approaches the house. Dogs do not have to be vicious to be an effective deterrent. And best of all, a secutiry system does not keep your feet warm in bed at night!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Earlier this week a home in the 800 Block of Sassafras St. was burglarized. The person/s broke the rear bathroom window of the house to gain entry. This occurred during broad daylight, apparently between the hours of 2:30pm and 4:45pm.

In speaking with police, the victim of this burglary also learned other homes were burglarized in the area this same day.

As I think back on newspaper bits and conversations with neighbors, someone has been targeting homes and businesses in the center city area quite heavily for awhile now. Bim's Pizza on East Main street was burglarized a few months back (broken front door glass), the barber shop at 6th and Sassafras was burglarized (Broken panel to an old window), numerous homes along Sassafras Street, 10th Street, and I'm sure others I'm not aware of. There have also been several motor vehicle break-ins and thefts from unlocked cars - perhaps related?

Residents should pay close attention to anyone mulling around day or night, especially in common alleys behind homes, and notify police to check suspicious people/vehicles. This would include teenagers, as the home on Sassafras seems to have been hit during the time when kids are walking home from the high school on Wade Blvd. and can be seen all over the area streets. One expects the usual mishief when a group of teens are together, however maybe a few have taken their thrill seeking to a higher level.

Neighbors in the area of 9th and 10th street are going a step further and providing each other with telephone numbers as well as communicating regularly to stay abreast of happenings. The people who broke into homes this week were very lucky because these residents are often very alert, and don't hesitate to challenge suspicious activity. It's only a matter of time until somebody is caught...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shots fired

On the morning of January 14 at 1:10am shots were fired in the vicinity of 4th and Sassafras Streets. I was awakened out of sleep to hear about six or so shots fired in quick succession.

These were not fireworks - I am a seasoned target shooter and know the difference between a handgun and fire crackers. This sounded like a .38 caliber or 10mm, something in that range. My girlfriend woke up to the shots, also, and confirmed that they sounded to her like gun shots.

They came from the northwest of my house, I guess on 4th Street between Pine and Sassafras. A dark SUV (Ford Explorer?) was seen right afterward. It was headed south on 4th, turned east on sassafras, and parked on my street for about 2 minutes before leaving. there was no foot traffic on the streets that night, it was still bitter cold out.

Police arrived about 30 seconds afterward, and patrolled the area.  Nothing was found, and to my knowledge nobody or nothing was hit. At least no other reports were made.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Prowler Alert!

During the overnight hours Sunday into Monday, a suspicious male was spotted walking between homes in the area of North 7th. Street just off Main. Police were called by an alert homeowner, but the man quickly slipped away into the darkness - seen running east on Main Street.

I believe at least one vehicle may have been found rummaged through, but nothing taken.

A short time later a male subject fitting the same clothing description initially given was seen running through yards on 9th street between Sassafras and Pine. Police again responded immediately, however the person slipped away into the darkness another time.

Residents living in these areas should be alert to any suspicious activity, and perhaps consider keeping outside lighting on to illuminate yards and alleys to deter activity until the individual is apprehended.

On a positive note: Both times when police were called, they immediately converged to the area in question and established perimeters. On the second call Police literally arrived to the exact location the suspect was last seen within seconds.

Even though the suspect was not caught, in my opinion this quick response by police could not have been accomplished through a county 911 line. A regional 911 Operator most likely will not be familiar with local streets, alleys and general topography of the neighborhoods to quickly guide in responding officers, and the delay (usually incurred with waiting for a 911 operator to transfer you to someone at the local police station) last night could have been the difference between a criminal successfully robbing and stealing items, or being forced to flee into the darkness because police were hot on his heels!