The best time to think about how to protect your home is now. Be proactive by taking measures to secure your home. Not surprising, everyone who has had a burglary then takes measures to better protect their home. Why not do it beforehand? Listed below are some basic, but effective things you can do to prevent crime. If you follow all the guidelines, you will reduce your chance of being a victim of crime.
LOCKS- Make sure all locks on your doors are in working order, most importantly the deadbolts. Basic door handle locks can easily pried open, but properly installed deadbolts are much harder to break into. The screws for the strike plate of the deadbolt should be 2″ long so they go into the actual door frame. MAKE SURE all locks are engaged, even during the daytime, when a door is not in use. Most every burglary attempt we have experienced in our neighborhood has been during the day and has been entry or attempted entry from the rear or side door.
GARAGE DOORS- Please keep your garage door closed when not in use, unless you are working in the front yard and can see the garage opening. Open garage doors invite criminals into your home, as well as the neighborhood in general. It’s not the theft of items from your garage to be most worried about. It is that an open garage door means a burglar can come directly into your house or they can get your garage door opener from an unlocked older car and gain access to your home at a later time. At night, always lock the door going from your house into the garage.
CARS- If at all possible, keep your cars in the garage, both during the day and at night. Always keep your locked, even during the day when it is parked outside. Make sure any cars left outside are locked at all times and NO VALUABLES, even change in the cup holder, are visible. Cars should be parked in the driveway, not on the street. Many thieves simply walk the streets pulling door handles to see if they are open and look inside for items to steal. Also remember if you have overnight guests that they lock their cars, remove valuables and park in the driveway. If you have cars parked in your driveway, make sure to leave your outside garage lights on. Several years ago the state of Kentucky passed legislation that makes breaking into cars a misdemeanor if the theft is under $500.00, so this alone has greatly increased criminals breaking into cars. Over half of the incidents of crime in our neighborhood are car related, most preventable.
LIGHTING- Criminals hate lighting and are much less likely to try to enter your home through a door or window in a well lit area. With the use of CFL bulbs and LED, the cost is nominal to illuminate potential crime entry points. Leave these lights on at night. Consider installing automatic timer switches that come on and off at dusk and daybreak so you don’t have to remember to turn lights on and off, which also assist you when you are away from home. The cost is typically $50 or less. Another good option is motion sensor lights. Also when you leave on vacation, or even for the evening, leave 1 or 2 lights on inside your house to make it appear someone is home.
ALARMS- We estimate that between 40-50% of the houses in our neighborhood have alarm systems, some monitored and some audible. Logically, one of the things burglars consider when picking a house to break into is whether or not it has an alarm. If you have one, make sure you have the alarm company sign visible both at your front and back doors as well as posting a large number of decals in your windows. This alone may stop a burglary attempt, which will save you repairing the damage they cause breaking into your home. The national companies typically charge $30-35 per month to install and monitor an alarm, but some companies offer systems as low as $15 per month, with some upfront out of pocket cost. Alarms are only good if you set them! Even if you leave the house for a short trip, please set your alarm. If you don’t want to have a system installed, another option is an audible alarm that sounds when a door or window is opened. Often, when a burglar hears an alarm when entering a home, the sound will scare them off so they don’t actually burglarize your home.
CAMERAS- With today’s technology cameras are an easy way to protect your home. They enable you to see what is going at your residence while you are away. They also aid law enforcement in identifying suspects if something should occur. Please consider installing cameras if your home does not have them. At the very least, install a video doorbell.
LANDSCAPING- Another thing burglars consider when selecting a home is the landscaping, specifically if a door or window is shielded by overgrown shrubs or trees. They know there is less of a chance of being seen when entering a house. Keep all landscaping trimmed and lower in nature to eliminate hiding places. Also do not leave ladders or other tools at the side of your house that could be used to aid a burglar in his attempt to enter your house.
VACATIONS/VACANT HOMES- Get to know your neighbors. If you are going to be on vacation or away from your home for a day ot two, let your neighbors know so they can watch your house. When they are away, you can reciprocate. A good idea is that when you are watching a neighbors house is to do a “walk around” of the house on a daily basis. If you don’t have someone to watch your house, let your Neighborhood Watch Block Captain know you are going away and we will let our private patrol officers know to watch your house. If you did not stop the delivery of your mail and newspaper they should be removed daily by the neighbor watching your house.
STRANGERS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD- If you plan o using an outside contractor for work on your house, hire only reputable companies you personally know and/or have checked out with references, or recommended by friends. Also keep in mind contractors are only as good as the people they hire and turnover is probably high at many contractors. If they are working in your house, remove any valuables from the area. If someone will be in your house for other reasons, such as a party or if you have your house for sale, remove or secure all valuables from areas that people have access to. Lastly, be very aware when leaving your house, watching for strange cars with people siting in them or driving by slowly. We are certain that at least some of the burglaries we have had in our neighborhood resulted from criminals who saw the owners leave. If you see a strange car parked on the road that does not “look right”, call the police. It never hurts to have them check it out.
The above suggestions can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing a crime. When time allows, visit the Lexington Fayette County Division of Police website for many other great suggestions on crime prevention.
Please remember we have an active Neighborhood Watch program and if you experience a crime, please let a Block Captain know so it can be posted here on the HOA website to alert other neighbors. Of equal importance, if you observe something in the neighborhood that seems suspicious in nature, call the Lexington Police department immediately at 859-258-3600, the non-emergency number. Rest assured the Police want our assistance in reporting activity that is suspect in nature. It may well be someone casing the neighborhood to commit a crime. If the person is driving a car, get the license plate number.
Lastly, if you would like more specific suggestions on how to improve the security of your home, please let Paul or Cheryl Caudill know so we can arrange for one of our private patrol officers to schedule an appointment.
We very much appreciate everyone’s efforts to make our neighborhood one of the safest in Lexington. Andover Forest is only as good as all the residents in it and it takes everyone’s cooperation to make it a secure and great place to live.
Neighborhood Watch Committee