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Residential burglary is increasing all over the country partly due to the supply and demand of drugs that we are facing in today’s society. Law enforcement officials are finding out that a high number of residential burglaries are committed by individuals who are on a controlled substance in order to supply their daily drug addiction habit. The fast money is in residential burglary for drug addicts. In most cases, burglaries that occur in a residential area may have been prevented had the homeowner taken security measures to safe guard their homes from common thieves.

The protection of your family and home is the most important factor in your life! To address this problem you have to think like a burglar! Being a burglar is really a hard job. It’s not a high paying job, the hours are long, you sleep all day and work all night. The common burglar is always looking for things that are in demand. If they can find an outlet to sell it, they will steal it. As a burglar, you never get the value you want for the stolen items. If you don’t get caught at the scene, the chances of getting apprehended trying to sell the stolen merchandise without the proper identification marks decreases the burglar’s life span. Drug users commiting home burglaries will increase their drug addiction until a apprehension is made.

When the police are called to a burglary scene, they need answers to the following questions. The five W’s come into play. Who, What, Where, When and Why are commonly asked by the officer at the time of the burglary. In most cases, the victims are not prepared to give the police officer at the scene the information they need to complete their investigation. For an example, high demand items, such as lap-top computers, TV’s, Stereo’s, and VCR's can be identified by serial and model numbers. Most victims don’t take the time to keep records at the time of purchase. Jewelry is another high ticket item that most victims don’t take pictures of or have a insurance rider on their homeowners policy. Without proper identification of the stolen merchandise it becomes a very difficult for the police to recover the stolen property. Photographs of all valuables and records of purchases will help the police identify the stolen merchandise.

Some the measures that a homeowner can take to prevent a burglary is to be smart on how you landscape your home. Don’t let shrubs and tress provide cover for the burglar to hide. Cut back tall shrubbery away from the doors and walkways. Don’t plant shrubbery more then 3 feet high in the front and side of the home. This will leave open a protective barrier to your property. Thieves are more attracted to yards with unruly lawns, overgrown shrubs, and left out lawn furniture and equipment. These are signs that a residence maybe vacant.

One of the most common mistake a homeowner makes is to leave the light on over the kitchen sink while you are away. This is a sure signal to everyone that nobody's home. Without proper lighting around the home you are inviting the burglar to your door step. Lighting is one most important deterrence to prevent home burglary. A well lit home will make the common burglary go elsewhere. Along walkways and in landscaping, 40 to 60 watts is sufficient to discourage a burglar. An  effective measure is to install motion sensor lighting systems around your residence. Landscape lighting using ground-mounted low-voltage fixtures to up-light shrubs and around the basement window is a great deterrence.

Having proper door and window locks installed will secure your home from a lazy burglar. Most burglars prefer to enter your home the same way as you do. Having a secured dead-bolt lock may be enough to make an intruder walk away in search of an easier target. All the exterior doors of your home should be equipped with dead-bolt locks. Window locks are seldomly used by the homeowner on a hot summer evening. In these cases it is recommended to have a window stopper installed 6 to 8 inches from the window jam on all your windows. This is one of the weakest points that the common burglar looks for to gain entry into your home.

Securing your home against the common thief you have think like one. You always want to give the appearance that someone is home. Leaving lights on in your home and above your garage door, cars parked in the driveway, and a well landscaped yard will give the appearance of an active household. What this means to the burglar is if he doesn’t have a place to hide while he forces his way into your home, he will look else where for easier target. Home burglary prevention does not need to be expensive. All it takes is a little common sense. Remember, to stop a burglar, you need to think like one.


Mark R. Collins is Chief of Police for a west suburban Chicago police department. Chief Collins has been active in crime prevention issues throughout his career. A graduate of the FBI's National Academy in Quantico Virginia, Chief Collins is currently working on his Masters degree in Criminal Justice.



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