SEATTLE - Mafé Rajul, King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney, drove around King County - mainly Seattle and the Eastside - with a prolific burglar who showed her the homes he burglarized. During the trip, he gave her these tips, which she uses in community meetings and to help homeowners protect their property.
“The No. 1 advice I can give is to know your neighbors,” the burglar said. “That way, they can look out for you when you are not around. Make sure your neighbors know enough about your life so that when a strange person comes in the middle of the day or a strange car is parked in your driveway, they’ll know to call the police.”
The following are 10 mostly common-sense tips that people know, or should know, but simply ignore:
- If you have an alarm, use it. It is amazing how many people don’t activate their alarms.
- Spend the extra money to have window sensors. Many people have the sensor only in the door, and that is not a deterrent because the burglar can break the window without the alarm going off.
2. AVOID THE APPEARANCE YOU HAVE BEEN GONE FOR A FEW DAYS
- Don’t leave the garbage can by the curbside. If you’re going to be out of town, have your neighbors move it.
- Don’t leave the newspapers for more than one day in front of the house. If you are on vacation, stop delivery.
- Move a parked car on a driveway or carport routinely. A dirty car that appears to have been sitting in the same spot for a long time is a good indicator the people are away.
3. LOCK ALL YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS
- Have strong locks.
- French doors are the easiest to break.
- Always close and lock them, even on the second floor.
- Close the blinds or curtains. Make sure people cannot see inside the house.
- If you don’t want to close your blinds, make sure valuable items are out of view. Don’t have the big plasma TV visible from the outside.
5. INSTALL A CAMERA IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE
- Even if a burglar breaks in through the back, he usually walks out the front.
6. STORE VALUABLES IN UNUSUAL PLACES
- Keep valuables, such as jewelry, in places other than the master bedroom. The bathroom or laundry room are good places to hide these items. Burglars tend to start in the master bedroom and walk their way back into the living room, then the front door or driveway.
- If there is a room burglars will ransack, it will be the master bedroom; that is where most women keep their jewelry.
7. AVOID BLOCKING YOUR HOUSE FROM THE PUBLIC OR NEIGHBORS, IF POSSIBLE
- If you have trees or big bushes, make sure there are gaps between them.
- Don’t build a “wall” of greens.
8. IF YOU HAVE A SAFE, MAKE SURE IT IS NOT EASILY MOVABLE
- A heavy safe or one that is built into the wall is best. Most burglars won’t take the time to try to break into it because there are no guarantees there are goods inside.
9. AVOID DOGGY DOORS
- They are the easiest way for a burglar to get inside.
10. DON’T LEAVE LADDERS IN YOUR BACKYARD
Note: If you live in a house hidden from the main streets, you are more likely to get burglarized. Although many people love their privacy, a house that is not visible is the best target.