“Safety” Tip of the Month
As you are aware, there have been three recent burglaries in Shelter Bay. All of these have occurred during daylight hours and entry was forced. The Swinomish police are working on these cases. Electronics, jewelry and other easy to remove items were taken. It is estimated that total time spent in the houses was less than 30 minutes.
Of particular interest was that one of the victims received a phone call a few days before the robbery asking if they had an alarm system and trying to sell a system. The caller indicated that since they were new to the area, they would install an alarms system “free, if the customer would allow them to use them in promotional advertisements”. They refused the offer as “being too good to be true”. If, in fact, the caller is part of the culprits, they learned that the victim did not have an alarm system, was not interested and therefore became an easy target. Lesson Learned: Never Tell a Caller if you have an Alarm System or not. Entry was gained through the sliding glass door which had no additional locking bar. If you have a Sliding Glass Door, it is suggested that you either have a locking bar (a heavy dowel cut to length will do) and keep it installed except when opening the door. Commercial versions are available at the hardware stores.
Here are tips provided by experts in the field.
- Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
- Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
- Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked.
- Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
- Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
- Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
- Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
- Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
- Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.
- Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
- Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
- Never leave notes on your door such as “Gone shopping.”
- Targeting the Outside:
- Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
- Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
- Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
- Most windows can be pinned for security.
- Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
- An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
- Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
- If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
- Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.
If Your Home Is Broken Into:
- If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
- Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
- Use a neighbor's phone to call police.
- Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
- Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
- Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.
Other precautions you should take:
- Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places — burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
- Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
- Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
- Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Mark your valuables with your driver's license number with an engraver. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
- Consider installing a burglar alarm system.
Provided by the Shelter Bay Safety Committee
If We Can’t Reach You – We Can’t Alert You!
MyStateUSA is a community notification system that Skagit 911 may use to deliver alert messages to Skagit County residents and businesses via e-mail, text and / or phone calls in the event of an emergency or public warning.
Do you already have my phone number?
If you have standard “landline” service, yes we do. The Skagit 911 system database has listed and unlisted, business and residential phone numbers within Skagit County.
Cellular phones are not in the system database. If you would like to be contacted on your cell phone, you will need to register your number.
What kind of alert messages will I receive from MyStateUSA?
Any local elected or appointed public official or public safety command (Fire Department or Law Enforcement) officer may request an alert message to be activated through the MyStateUSA system.
Examples of events that could prompt an alert activation include: evacuation notices, hazardous materials releases, community policing activities wildland fires (AMBER alerts, endangered missing adults, prisoner escapes, high incidence of criminal activity, etc.)
When can I register my information?
Go to the home page at www.skagit911.com and click on the “Public Sign Up Here” button. Questions: Call 428-3200. Additional data available at your Shelter Bay Office. (Posted 3/6/12.)
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW;
YOUR BURGLAR WON'T TELL YOU
There are some really great tips here: The best are near the end. Common sense applied in a vigorous way.
1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.
2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.
3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... And taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.
4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it...
5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.
6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.
7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.
8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.
9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)
10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.
11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.
12 You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.
13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at http://www.faketv/.com/)
8 MORE THINGS A BURGLAR WON'T TELL YOU:
1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.
2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.
3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.
4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?
5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.
6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.
7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.
8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.
Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina , Oregon , California , and Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs http://wwwcrimedoctor.com/ and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on the Job.
PROTECTION FOR YOU AND YOUR HOME:
A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.
The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.
FROM ANOTHER SOURCE:
On the heels of a break-in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self-defense experts have a tip that could save your life.
Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School. For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed. Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them" Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says, "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades. It's also one he wants everyone to hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.
"That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out." Maybe even save a life.
Put your car keys beside your bed at night.
Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr.'s office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your car keys beside your bed at night.
If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick around After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or a sexual abuse crime.
For earlier articles in this series, see Community Safety Archives.