Below is a combo version of various safety related articles the WBNA has run in the past along with everyday precautions we can take to help make and keep our homes and ourselves a little safer. Some have already been touched on in previous posts and I apologize for any repetition.
The following suggestions on securing your home come from Neighborhood Watch meetings with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and local community leaders. We hope they’ll help.
For additional information, the WBNA website has “Safe Neighborhoods, Secure Homes” available for download from the Safety page, under Home Safety Inspections. This is a publication by the Travis Co. Sheriff’s Office and includes details on securing your home. I keep hard copies on hand if anyone would like one as well as the Neighborhood Watch Training Guides. Just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll leave one on your porch. Also on the WBNA website: https://www.wbna.us under “Safety”, look for the TCSO Safety Series, a drop-down menu with articles on a variety of safety related topics.
**I do need to update the Community Outreach info on the web, so wherever it says “James Kitchens” think “Zainab Banks”. The phone number remains the same and Officer Banks’ email is email@example.com.
Please feel free to call me with any questions or concerns and by all means, write in if I’ve left something off this list.
WB Neighborhood Watch Coordinator
There has been an increase in car break-ins in Travis County in the last several months. These are crimes of opportunity. Don’t become a target!
• BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AT ALL TIMES.
• Anytime/Anywhere – Don’t leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Take them in the house or put them in the trunk out of sight BEFORE reaching your destination – NOT after you’ve been sitting in the parking lot playing games on your notebook. Thieves sit in parking lots and watch people as they exit their vehicles. They notice if you’re not carrying a purse or if you sat in your car for 20 minutes and then exited the car empty-handed.
• Always lock your car.
• Never leave your car running unattended or leave your keys in the car or ignition.
• If you keep a garage door remote control in your car and don’t park it in the garage each and every time you return home, hide the remote. Thieves check visors and consoles; a garage door opener gives them instant protected access to your home.
• If you own an SUV or truck with a spare tire mounted on the outside of the vehicle, invest in a locking bar – $13 at Wal-Mart.
• Fancy rims? Locking lug nuts. While it may not prevent the determined thief, it will slow them down and deter the opportunistic variety.
• When shopping, remain aware of your surroundings at all times. If unsure of your safety, ask a store attendant to have security walk you to your car. You can’t be too safe. This goes for trips to the grocery store as well. When unloading your car at home after a day of shopping, lock it between trips to and from the car.
If you plan to be away:
Let a neighbor and/or block captain know you’ll be out of town and when you’ll return. They should have the following: your emergency contact information; contact information for anyone with access to your house (pet sitter, etc.); when they should be expected; what they look like and a description of their vehicle(s).
• Let only those who NEED to know, know when you are going out of town.
• Don’t share vacation plans on social media.
• Arrange to have your lawn cared for if you are going to be away.
• Don’t hide keys under doormats or flowerpots or in similar places.
• Put your lights, stereo or TV on timers.
• Leave a car in the driveway or ask a neighbor to park in it.
• Don’t cancel your paper or mail deliveries; ask that your neighbor pick them up every day.
• Leave a key with a friend or neighbor; ask that the house be checked at regular intervals.
• Keep your house well lit at night (backyard included). A motion sensor or photocell activated light is an inexpensive deterrent.
• Store all your valuables.
• Consider asking friends or relatives to live in your home while you are away.
• Ask your neighbor to put trash in your trashcan and to put it out for collection and away when they put theirs away.
• File a Close Patrol Request. The filing of this form alerts patrolling officers so that they may pay close attention to one’s residence. To do so: Contact the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at 854-9721. Ask to make a Close Patrol Request.
Everyday Safety Measures
Taking care of ourselves and looking out for our neighbors. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The Travis County Sheriff’s Department suggests the following actions to help ensure our safety. Be proactive!
• Keep your house well lit at night (backyard included). A motion sensor activated light or one with a photo cell that turns on automatically at dusk is an inexpensive deterrent. Imagine having the whole block do it. Do you think criminals are going to choose the well-lit street or the dark one? Help make your block the least attractive to crime.
• Clean out the vegetation around windows and doors. Keep shrubbery trimmed back. Don’t give a criminal a hiding place.
• Make sure all windows and doors are secured, even the ones you feel are inaccessible.
• Keep your blinds and drapes closed when away, even if only for a short period of time.
• Replace your exterior doors with solid care doors that are 1 3/4 inches thick and secured with deadbolts. Replace old screws in strikeplates with 3 inch screws. Keep all doors and windows locked.
• Secure windows with 2 locking devices
• Hide all valuables in your home or car. Someone should not be able to look in a window and see your valuables when you are not home. In the evenings when you are watching TV close the curtains so people cannot look in and see the television. Store purses, lap tops and cell phones out of sight.
• Keep your doors locked when at home. We live in a safe neighborhood, but why risk it? Lock the doors and carry a key when working outside as well. Don’t be caught off guard.
• Never leave your garage door open. An open door invites people to “window shop” and provides protected access to the house.
• Do not leave the remote control for your garage door in your vehicle, unless it is always parked inside the garage. Your remote offers instant access to the inside of your home.
• Do NOT put the empty boxes for the new computer, TV, stereo system, etc. on the curb for the trash. Take the time to break down every box and put it inside your trashcan so that it is concealed, even if you have to hold it over to the next week. People start cruising our neighborhood the day before trash pick-up to see what has been put out. The less they know, the better.
• Get to know your neighbors by name and be able to identify them and their vehicles.
• Tell neighbors when you plan to have workmen coming, so that people posing as workmen will be quickly identified as such.
• Sleep in a quiet house. Noise from the TV or radio can decrease your ability to hear an intruder.
• As an added safeguard, carry your car remote with you at all times. Sleep with it on the nightstand. If you hear an intruder, activate the panic button, chances are the noise will scare him off and, eventually, someone will come.
• Alarm company signs/window stickers are also considered a deterrent. Even if you don’t employ the security company named, it may cause a prospective intruder to pass your house up and move on to another.
• Dogs are good deterrents – even little ones. Even if you don’t have a dog, posting a “Beware of Dog” sign may help to discourage burglars. Place a large dog bowl on the patio as well.
• Keep an accurate record of your belongings. Record make, model and serial numbers; engrave your driver’s license on electronics. Take photographs or videos of your possessions for insurance purposes. Store in a safe place, not just on your computer.
• If you believe someone has broken into your house, leave immediately and call 911.
• Report all crimes to the police immediately. You may wish to post the details to the Google Group as well. If you are not on the WB Google Group, please consider joining and have your Block Captain post the incident (no names need be used) to your individual neighborhood watch group. The more information we all have, the better to see patterns and better protect ourselves and our property.
• Join the Google Group
To join the Group:
Go to the Wells Branch Neighbors Group page at https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/wells-branch-neighbors
Click the link to Apply for Membership
Note, If not already signed into Google, you will need to do so. (If you need to set up your free Google account, visit https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.)
You don’t have special login for GROUPS; it’s just your general Google account.
If you have questions or difficulty subscribing please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share with your neighbors who do not yet belong.
• If you are not already, become a Wells Branch Neighborhood Association member. “Like” us on Facebook for community updates. The more community involvement and connectedness there is, the safer we all will be.
Most of all, be aware of your surroundings and look out for your neighbors. If you see or hear something suspicious, call 911. The Sheriff’s Department would much rather answer a false alarm than deal with a tragedy later.
We live in a GREAT community AND a SAFE community. Let’s all do our part to keep it that way.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office offers free home safety audits. To schedule one, please contact Deputy Zainab Banks at 854-8413 or email@example.com.
For information about starting your own Neighborhood Watch Group, please call Debby Thompson at 512-656-0654 or Tom Cheshire at 512-913-3144.