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Summer time means vacation time, as many of us escape the heat for cooler locales.
It can also create the perfect opportunity for crooks to help themselves to your stuff.
We asked Valley locksmith Tim, of Lock It locksmith in Sacramento CA, to give us some simple and inexpensive fixes to make your house more secure.
Let’s start in the garage. Most of us have a cord which hangs from our opener track. That cord is supposed to let you open your garage door, even if the opener breaks down or the power goes out. The problem? Tim says, when the door is closed, the cord sits right next to the top of the door.
“You can get in by fishing a coat hanger right in there, grabbing that cord and giving it a tug. And you’ve just released that garage door so it opens all by itself,” he said. Tim advises cutting the cord off. You can use a dowel with a basic hook to release the door if you have to, but he said the convenience of the cord isn’t worth the security risk, and cutting it costs nothing.
While you’re in your garage, look for a perforated punch-out hole, usually about midway up your garage door track. That hole is there to let you put a padlock through the track. Tim says it offers an extra layer of security. When you’re off on vacation, there’s no way to open your garage door.
If you’re like most homeowners, you have a deadbolt lock on your front door, but Tim says that lock is only as good as the door jam to secure it. Most of the metal plates holding the deadbolt are secured with half-inch screws, he said. The solution – replace them with longer, three and a half inch screws.
“It goes all the way through the door jam, into the two by four framing. It makes it very hard to kick the door in,” Tim said. It’s also an inexpensive fix. You can do it yourself, and it will only cost you a few cents for the new hardware.
Of course, many Sacramento homes have a patio door in the back of the house. Tim said, consider a secondary lock. For about 40 dollars, you can install a lock which latches from the top and bottom. Tim says, that’s important, because burglars often try to lift the patio door off its track in order to get inside.
It’s also a good idea for families with a pool. “You get a level of child security because you can mount it high up and it also requires two hands to lock,” Tim said. The lock itself can also be “locked” with a special key, so it can’t be opened by hand, even from the inside.
Tim says, if anyone else has ever lived in your home, it’s a good idea to re-key your locks. For outside doors with deadbolts, ask the locksmith about spool pins. It’s an alternative to the regular pins in most locks, making them more difficult to pick or bump. A typical locksmith will charge less than 50 dollars.
And don’t forget the lock which guards your identity. “A lot of people don’t realize you own your mailbox lock. Get that re-keyed for the same reason you re-key your house,” Tim said. It will cost you about 40 dollars.
Total cost to do all these security fixes? A little less than 200 dollars, but Tim says it can be worth the investment to make your home more secure.
As families plan for summer activities and vacation, there are many things to keep in mind in addition to planning the vacation destination. Making sure the home is secure when gone is very important. Burglars seem to know when families are gone. Recently there have been break-ins when family members are home. It is important to take precautions to keep your home safe and secure whether you’re gone for a short time or an extended vacation.
Before leaving on vacation:
* Inform your neighbors of how long you will be gone. Let them know if you have a house sitter or ask them to keep an eye on your home.
* Leave your vacation address and phone number with a neighbor and/or family member so you can be reached in case of emergency, or if you have
monitored security system update your emergency contact information.
* Stop your newspaper and mail or have someone pick it up.
* Make arrangements to have the lawn mowed. Have someone water flowers and take the garden produce.
* Make your house appear lived in, install z-wave light switch to your security system and configure your schedules through Alarm.com app!
* Lock all doors and windows. Check out z-wave Door locks.
* Close and lock garage door. If you leave a car at home, park it as you normally would. Vehicles parked outside should be moved occasionally to appear they are being used. If cars are left outside, do not leave valuables items in the car.
* Don’t announce your absence on an answering machine message; leave your normal message on the machine.
* Posting photos of your vacation on social media like Facebook or Tweeter is not a good idea when you are gone. Wait until you get home to do that.
* Never leave a key hidden outside your home. Burglars seem to know all the good hiding places.
* Leave the blinds, shades and curtains in the normal position. Don’t close them unless it’s what you do when you are home.
* To make the house appear lived in, put lights on timers and set them to go on at different times. A radio can also be set to come on for voices at certain times.
* If you have a security system on your house be sure it is working and on.
Before you leave, look around your home and see if there anything that would make your home an easy target for burglars.
Don’t leave anything around the home or yard that will be a drawing card for crime.
Be safe and enjoy your vacation!
A battery pack, Epson projector and Toshiba laptop are displayed on a new website the city of Roseville launched last week.
This isn’t a marketplace for surplus city goods – it’s a pilot program by the Police Department to match stolen or missing property to the rightful owner.
The new Roseville police website resembles a typical e-commerce marketplace, featuring a small photo and description of each item. What’s missing is a price. Instead, residents can click “claim this item” to contact the department.
After that, residents will need to produce a police report, serial numbers or some other proof of ownership before the department will release the property.
Roseville police collect about 1,600 pieces of property a month, according to the department. Most of it is evidence and quickly claimed by the owner. But some pieces – like the 32-inch flat-screen television and the blue mountain bike currently on the website – can sit for months without anyone coming forward.
Listing the items online will give the public easier access to the city’s inventory of lost or stolen items because most people have no idea which jurisdiction to call, said Scott Koll, supervisor for the property and evidence section of the Roseville Police Department
“Crime isn’t specific to a ZIP code. (The property) could be coming from Sacramento or the Bay Area,” he said. “We have no idea where the crime occurred, but we found the person responsible that had a bunch of stuff in their car.”
Like other law enforcement agencies across the state, Roseville police had long relied on PropertyRoom.com, a private Maryland-based company that auctions items collected by departments during the course of business.
“The default for the industry is PropertyRoom.com,” Koll said “You just send it to them or to the Dumpster, as heartbreaking as it is. It felt like … we could do better.”
Generally, police must hold found property at least 90 days. Officials put out press releases to inform the public and media. Still, the public rarely keep serial numbers of property, increasing the difficulty of confirming ownership, officials said.
Both Sacramento police and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department operate their own warehouses to store property collected during police work. The two agencies also contract with PropertyRoom.com.
But for Sacramento police, “bikes are donated to local charities,” said Officer Michele Gigante, a spokeswoman for the department.
In 2013, Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies retrieved 501 bicycles, 1,152 cellphones and 1,550 pieces of clothing, among other items, according to spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa Bowman.
Anjan Shah, vice president of e-commerce at PropertyRoom.com, said his company serves nearly 3,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, including the three largest – New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
“Our whole premise is to be able to send money back to those folks,” Shah said, noting that roughly 50 percent of proceeds go back to the department that sent the item.
He said the company is responsible for collecting, cataloging and selling the property, ranging from electronics to fine art.
However, Koll said the money Roseville police receive from the arrangement is “insignificant,” part of the reason why the agency is launching the new website.
“We want to give people their stuff back. That’s really our focus, our goal,” Koll said.
#1. If you have an alarm system, make sure that its stickers or lawn signs are clearly visible to any potential unwelcome visitor.
#2. Make your house look occupied when you’re not there by using automatic timers for various lights, and leaving a TV on.
#3. It’s best to ignore solicitors at your door; they can be a crook wanting to case your home (interior and exterior) for a possible return later to burglarize.
#4. When purchasing items to be delivered to your house, arrange delivery to coincide with your presence. A big package left on a stoop is very enticing to thieves.
#5. Rethink making a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree visible to people outside; a burglar casing your house will be very tempted to break in.
#6. To conceal your ownership of new, high price items such as a large flat screen TV, break down the boxes these items came in so that they can be hidden inside your trash container.
#7. Instruct your kids never to reveal your travel plans with their friends, including online. In fact, refrain from sharing your travel plans yourself in cyberspace.
#8. Put your mail and newspaper delivery on vacation hold. Have a trusted friend watch out for your house however they can, such as parking their car in the driveway.
#9. Inform the local police you’ll be absent; give them the contact information for the friend who’ll be looking out for your house.
#10. Have a dog? Rather than kennel it, arrange to have someone come by often enough to pet sit, so that if a prowler comes by, the dog will be there to bark.