by Debby Thompson, WBNA President & WB Neighborhood Watch Coordinator
With the bustle of the holidays just around the corner, make sure you’re taking every precaution possible to keep your home and family safe and secure. We usually see an increase in opportunistic crime this time of year; please remain vigilant.
- Keep your blinds and drapes closed when away, even if only for a short period of time.
- Keep your house well lit at night (backyard included). A motion sensor activated light is an inexpensive deterrent.
- If your Christmas tree is displayed in front of a window, don’t pile the presents around it. Store the gifts in another area away from view when the blinds or drapes are open. 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/recycling bin so that it is concealed, even if you have to hold it over to the next week. People start cruising our neighborhood on Sunday afternoons to see what has been put out. The less they know about what you have inside, the better.
- Door-to-door solicitations increase tremendously this time of year. Always look out the window or peephole before opening the door or answering a knock. Never open the door all the way, especially if you have a Christmas tree and/or presents in plain view. Always lock your car. Never leave your car running unattended or leave your keys in the car or ignition. If you usually 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 or take it inside. Thieves check visors and this gives them instant protected access to your home. Keep your garage door closed at all times and keep the inside door from your home to the garage LOCKED.
- 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 arriving at your destination. While shopping this holiday season, 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. (continued on back)
- Keep your house well lit at night (backyard included).
- 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.
- 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. You will be asked for information on those caring for your home while you’re away – make and model of their vehicles, name, description and times they should be at your home.
A comprehensive list of Safety Tips as well as numerous articles by the Travis County Sheriff Deputies are posted here on our website under the Safety tab. There’s also a wealth of information available at https://www.tcsheriff.org/community/outreach-unit.
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.
Join the community listserv aka ‘The Google Group’ by sending your name, physical address and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 SECURE neighborhood. Let’s all do our part to keep it that way.
Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season, Wells Branch!
*For information about starting your own Neighborhood Watch Group, please call or text Debby Thompson at 512-656-0654.