Sheriff’s Office offers burglary prevention tips

Because of a 50 percent increase in residential burglaries in Jefferson County last month compared to a year ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department has launched a burglary prevention project, offering tips on how to avoid being a victim.

Major Lafayette Woods Jr., operations commander for the department, said in November 2011, deputies investigated six residential burglaries and no commercial burglaries.

Last month, there were nine residential burglaries reported, and two commercial burglaries

Woods described the increase as “alarming and unacceptable,” and offered suggestions for curbing the trend, including making a home look occupied and difficult to break into.

“Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed, even if it is for a short time,” he said. “Leave lights on when you go out or if you are going to be going away for any length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.”

Woods also recommended that homeowners avoid allowing mail, newspapers or fliers to build up by arranging for the post office to hold mail, or arrange for someone to pick up the items on a regular basis.

“Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary,” he said. “Push button locks on doors 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.”

Woods said even with quality locks, they can never be truly effective and recommended changing locks immediate if your keys are lost or stolen and change all the locks when moving into a new home.

He said an alarm system for homes provide peace of mind, but they’re only good if a person remembers to activate them.

“Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient,” Woods said. “Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating the home has an alarm system.”

Keep a detailed list of valuable possessions including a description of the items, date of purchase, original value and serial numbers and keep a copy of the list in a safe place away from the house and mark valuables with a driver’s license number.

“Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover,” Woods said.

He also said that safety is a team effort.

“Be a good neighbor,” he said. “If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.”