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JACK SIMPSON: Take the appropriate steps to prevent home burglaries

The months of November and December are well known for important holidays. They are also known as big months for home burglaries. Thieves like to kick in your door and steal your merry Christmas.

So what can you do about it? Nothing is foolproof, but for one thing you can be careful and not be too flashy. Don't unpack high-priced merchandise and then put the empty boxes out at the street. This is one clue for thieves. It might be wiser to carry your trash to the landfill or at least break up the boxes and bag them for your trash collector.

If you leave home for any length of time, alert your neighbors. Maybe they will be kind enough to watch out for you while you are gone. Do not allow newspapers and mail to accumulate in your absence. For burglars, this is a good clue that no one is at home.

People who live in small towns and rural areas have a habit of not locking doors. In these days and times, this habit has to be broken. Not locking your door when leaving home is a "no no." Our area now has far too many crimes to continue such faith that everyone in the community is honest. Burglars prey on the vulnerable.

Speaking of door locking, be sure you have good locks and deadbolts on your doors and consider adding a security system. Some folks add a dog to help prevent break-ins. Outside security lights can be a plus. Trimming bushes around the house helps by keeping burglars from hiding while breaking in.

If you have a sliding glass door, bar it. Secure your windows, but not so well that you can't get out in an emergency.

One fellow told me he was tired of vandals around his property and had installed security cameras. Another thing he has learned from experience is to keep a record of serial numbers. The faster information is given to police the better chance of recovery of stolen property or even identifying the burglar.

At some time or other you may have put a house key under a door mat for a relative to use in checking your house in your absence. In today's world, this qualifies as a bad idea. It is a poor way to ensure safety of your home.

In this economy, there is more stealing than usual. With common sense and some planning, residents may get through the holiday season without becoming victims of crime.

All precautions will not prevent a determined burglar, but following sound practices will deter some criminal activity.

Residential burglary is often a crime of opportunity. It is defined as entering a building as a trespasser with intent to commit a crime such as theft, damage, arson, assault or rape. It includes a house, mobile home, shed, railroad car, aircraft or any room. Going in at night carries a stiffer penalty. Entry in daylight is housebreaking. A burglar faces from one to 20 years if convicted.

Being alert and reporting suspicious activities to police not only includes home burglaries but also purse snatching, counterfeiters, Internet fraud, scams, stolen identities, shoplifting and all manner of illegal activity we might encounter during the holidays.

Be careful. Don't provide any easy target for those who prey upon the public, particularly in November and December. Minimize your risk.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.