Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent


9 home protection secrets from a veteran cop

9 home protection secrets from a veteran cop

Multiple insurance studies find that theft claims rise substantially over the holiday season….almost 50% by some estimates. And those numbers don’t lie. The FBI uniform crime reports show a spike in reported crimes around the holiday season.

Last year, there were over 2 million burglaries in the US. About one every 15 seconds. If you have ever experienced your house being broken into, it is a sickening event. It leaves victims feeling scared and powerless. It happened to my sister a few years ago. She was a single mother with two small kids. She said she felt traumatized; like she was no longer safe in her own home.

For the next several months, there were times I found myself sleeping on her sofa simply to help her feel safe. You can replace the items that were stolen. Your sense of safety and security are not as easy to replace.

There are steps you can take to protect your home.

  1. ALWAYS lock your doors and windows. Even your second story windows (if you have them) should be locked.  If you have the money, install reinforced locks and striker plates.
  2. If you can avoid it, do not have windowed exterior doors. You also want solid doors, not hollow. Sliding glass doors should be avoided as well. If you do have them, then brace them against the frame so that it cannot be opened from the outside.
  3. Secure your door frames to the walls by installing several 3-inch screws along the frame and doorstop. The screws should reach the wall stud.
  4. Use a peep hole cover on your door, as there are tools out there such as the reverse peep hole viewer which allow criminals to view into your home!
  5. Hopefully you know not to post travel plans on social media. But just as important, wait until you are home to post pictures of your vacation. Just tweeted pictures of you sitting on the beach in the Bahamas with a Rum Runner are a huge clue you aren’t home!
  6. imageDon’t post pics of high ticket items online either. You might be proud of that new 50 inch flat screen and Playstation, but you don’t need to advertise it to criminals.
  7. Dogs are a good deterrent. Even little ones that bark a lot can raise the alarm. If you don’t have a dog, that doesn’t mean you cannot place a water bowl in the backyard, or “Beware of Dog” signs around your home.
  8. Have your mail/newspaper stopped or picked up while you are gone.
  9. Finally, many police departments will be extra thorough in their patrol around your neighborhood if you contact them ahead of time and ask them to check on your house while you are gone.

 

If the disastrous happens and your house is broken into, there are some things you need to keep in mind. First, many burglaries go unsolved not because of the police, but because of the home owners themselves. Let me explain.

The vast majority of these types of cases are NOT solved by fingerprint or DNA evidence. Despite what you see on crime dramas on TV, there is no “Magic Super Computer” that you can put a set of finger prints into, and at the end of a commercial break the suspect’s name and address pop up.

Typically the samples collected have to be compared against a suspect’s known sample to verify a match. If police have no idea who broke into your house, they cannot randomly compare the samples they took against the millions of samples out there. (Or your suspect’s sample may not even be logged or collected.)

A vast majority (80-90%) of burglary crimes scenes do not have enough recoverable DNA/fingerprints to successfully test anyway.

In addition, DNA and finger print analysis is very expensive and can be quite time consuming. It costs on average around $1500 for a single case. (Advanced forensic DNA testing is quite different than the “paternity tests” you see on shows like Maury Povich.)

There is also a HUGE backlog of cases awaiting analysis of DNA, etc. Over a year is standard in my state. I’m sure it is even longer in states with larger populations. And crimes such murder and rape will always take precedence. So don’t count on the police recovering your items 2 days later because there was a fingerprint on your door. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

That being said, there are some steps you can take which will help the police considerably should your home be burglarized.

Take pictures of your expensive items. This includes things such jewelry, electronics, firearms, etc.  A picture of your gold pendant and necklace is much better evidence than just a written description. Also take pictures of items like 4-wheelers, trailers, chainsaws, lawnmowers, etc. My “rule of thumb”, if it could be pawned, I have a picture of it.

Take a picture of the serial number of these items too. If you are not sure where to find the serial number, look on the box it came in. The serial number will be on that box usually on a sticker. I cannot tell you how many times I have taken a burglary report where all the owner could give me was a vague description of his stolen items. An “Xbox and a black Dell laptop with a skull sticker on it” is not very helpful.

Even if Police find an Xbox, how do they know it belongs to you? It could have been stolen from someone else.

It might be wise to save these photos to a small thumb drive and secured some place safe. No use in taking these photos if they are stored on the laptop that was just stolen!

A serial number will at least ensure that the items will be logged into the national crime computer, and will be flagged. So if someone attempts to pawn those items at a pawn store, they will be flagged and the pawn shop owner must notify the police. (At least in my state.)  If the stolen property is recovered, the police now know who the owner is and will be able to return those items.

Check to make sure your home owners or renter’s insurance covers burglaries. Most do. Photos of your items and their serial numbers will help validate your insurance claim.

Crime is an unfortunate fact of life. But hopefully these tips will help reduce the chances of it happening to you.

Graywolf:

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For more information on how to protect your home, check out:

Prepper’s Home Defense: Security Strategies to Protect Your Family by Any Means Necessary

How to defend your bug out location: Preparing your battlespace

What weapons should you use to defend your home?

More Crime Prevention Tips from a Veteran Cop

 

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About James L

A police officer in Oklahoma, James is a gun enthusiast and certified police instructor. In his off time, he is a single father who enjoys playing with his kids and watching football.

Come visit his Preparedness site at Plan and Prepared

Comments

  1. Pamela Williamson says:

    You could maybe also recommend replacing the screws in door hardware, striker plates, and especially the hinges with the 3 inch screws as well. Tract homes in our city were having the front and side doors kicked in at the hinged side of the door (not the lock side) because the screws that come in the installers kits are very short and rip out easily. Also the slider doors, they’d pop them at the lock easily because the screws to install them were very small as well.

  2. I always thought our second story windows were safe to leave unlocked because there’s not really any roof access to them. I frequently leave one window in my master bathroom open or unlocked all the time because it helps with the moisture in the large room. Reading this makes me wonder how unsafe I’m actually being in lots of ways, and makes me realize I need to be a lot more careful with that window!

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