Leaving town for a summer vacation with the family?
Before shaking a tailfeather and getting out of Dodge, you can save yourself a massive headache by adequately preparing your residence and personal property to prevent break-ins and thefts.
“Have someone you trust check on your place regularly,” said Lt. John Wilson of the Scotts Valley Police Department. “Check windows and doors and make sure they’re locked.”
While Wilson advised homeowners to install deadbolt locks, as well as additional window locks, to help deter burglars, he said the real key is to not appear to be a target of opportunity.
“(Burglars) are opportunists,” he said. “It's got to be easy for them to get into — and an unlocked door is very easy to get into.”
Wilson also advised that residents help themselves by not leaving valuables unsecured or in visible places when leaving town.
“Make sure you lock everything before you go,” he said. “Put your valuables in a safe or safety deposit box.”
When residents of Scotts Valley leave town, Wilson said, they have the option of taking advantage of SVPD's free “vacation checks,” wherein an officer will stop by the house on a daily basis, walk through the property to make sure that everything is locked and secured, and will contact the homeowner's designated emergency person.
He also advised residents to remember to arrange for their mail to be held by the Post Office, and to put lights on timers to make it appear as though someone were home.
“Timers on your lights are great, but vary them if you can,” Wilson said, noting that if a potential burglar is “casing” a house, patterns can be noticed.
Wilson also advised residents to make sure that their vehicles are locked, and that nothing of value is left inside.
“Lock your doors, even if its while you’re going shopping for 30 minutes,” he said. “Eighty to 90 percent of what we deal with is because of unlocked vehicles.”
Wilson said that often, burglars will walk down a street and try the door on each vehicle, looting the unlocked ones.
Most of the time, he said, if the vehicle is locked, prowlers will move on to an easier target. Unless something like a purse, GPS device, or mobile phone is visible.
“Take your valuables inside,” he said. “Don’t leave anything that's of visible value — it makes it worth their while to break the window.”
For a more extensive listing of burglary-prevention tips, visit the San Jose Police Department's website at http://www.sjpd.org/bfo/community/Crimeprev/PreventionTips/Prevent_Burglary.html