Making It Tough for the Burglar

The following article is the second installment on Community Safety by Travis County Sheriff Outreach Deputy James Kitchens.

Through Neighborhood Watch Programs, determined citizens are decreasing their chances of becoming victims.  Alert program participants in communities across the country are making things hard for potential criminals by:

  • Arranging for home security inspections by crime prevention officers to identify security vulnerabilities;
  • Upgrading locks, security hardware, and lighting by installing 3” screws on latch plates, using a deadbolt with a 1” throw, mounting locks on windows and sliding glass doors and installing alarms when security inspections show particular hazard;
  • Training family members to keep valuables secure and to lock doors and windows when leaving home; it is a good practice to keep doors locked whether anyone is at home or not;
  • Asking neighbors to watch for suspicious activity when the house is vacant;
  • Marking valuable property with an identifying number (Operation I.D.) to discourage theft and help law enforcement agencies identify and return lost or stolen property;
  • Encouraging home builders to use effective door and window locks and to provide outside lighting for all new home and apartment construction;
  • Organizing Block Parent and Block WATCH groups to assist children, the elderly and other especially vulnerable persons if they appear to be in distress, in danger, or lost;
  • Meeting in neighborhood groups with trained crime prevention officers to discuss needs and crime prevention strategies;
  • Developing neighborhood “fan” or telephone tree systems for quickly alerting each other about criminal activity in the area;
  • Establishing a Contact List so that neighbors can reach each other at all times in the event of an emergency
  • Encouraging the development of signals for use in adjacent residences when someone needs help;
  • Arranging for ongoing programs where crime prevention experts can present home and neighborhood security tips at regularly scheduled meetings;
  • Obtaining and studying informative materials from the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Crime Prevention Council and local agencies;
  • Identifying the area’s participation with decals and metal road signs warning,  “NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH – Our neighbors are watching to report suspicious activity to our law enforcement agency.”

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