Burglary and Property Theft
Residential burglary is becoming more common than you might think. Remember, even though we live in a rural area, crime still happens here and taking precautions can lower your risk of becoming a victim. Following are some tips on how to avoid burglaries:
- Don’t Post Vacations, etc., to your Facebook status – While social networking sites like Facebook and myspace are great ways to keep in touch with friends or family members, they are also used by thieves to see when people might be leaving their property unattended.
- Take your name off your mailbox – By taking your name off your Mailbox a thief cannot call 411 to get your phone number. Many robbers will call a house they are planning on robbing beforehand to ensure that no one is home. Also try to bring in your mail as quickly as possible so they cannot get your name from this as well.
- Watch what you put in the trash – If you just purchased high end items such as a big screen TV or advanced computer system you should not just bring the box out to the curb. Instead break down the box and when possible, try to fit it inside the trashcan. Other high-risk items you might have in your trash are billing statements. Criminals can steal these and use them to open new accounts in your name. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in these situations so take the time to cut up or shred important documents.
- Ringing telephone – If you are going on a trip, it’s best to turn down the volume of your phone, or if you can turn it to silent while you’re on a long trip even better. Many criminals will roam the streets listening for loud rings that are not picked up, since this is a sure sign that no one is home.
- Take in your outdoor tools – Don’t leave the ladder outside after cleaning out the gutters. It is really important you bring these items inside, at a minimum, to a closed garage when you are done. If you leave a ladder outside, you are giving would be robbers an easy way to climb in through an open upstairs window.
- Trim your trees and bushes – Hedges and trees commonly surround houses and go right to the front door. Although these look lovely to the homeowner, they are also appealing to criminals. These landscaping beauties work perfectly as hiding places for someone to wait for you to come outside for a second to get your mail or walk the If you keep these items trimmed well enough, no one will be able to successfully hideout in your yard.
- Lock-up when you go out – Make sure to shut and lock any windows you regularly keep open. Criminals will watch for open windows when cars are leaving the driveway. These are the ideal entry points since they will not have to risk causing a noisy break-in. Your safest bet is to keep windows closed as much as possible on the ground levels of your house even when you are at home. This will give the impression to criminals that they will never have a chance to get in. Many burglaries are crimes of opportunity, it’s always wise to lock your house and vehicle, and don’t leave items that may be stolen in your vehicle, locked or not.
- Don’t hide a spare key – Many of us have done this in fear of getting locked out. Whether it’s under a rock a few feet away from the door or somewhere behind a bush in your backyard, desperate criminals are going to be looking. The best idea if you are afraid of being locked out is to leave a key with a trusted neighbor, co-worker, or friend that you would be able to contact quickly if you got locked out.
- Light up your house – This is not the most energy efficient way to keep menacing burglars away, but it has proven effective. Leave a light in one or two rooms throughout your house when you go out at night. Make sure that you do not have the blinds open in these rooms revealing that they are empty. This will give the illusion that someone is at home even when you are away. Often a burglar won’t risk being caught due to the lights being on.
- Don’t leave a note – It may seem like common sense to those who live in cities, however in rural areas it is still common to leave a note on the door telling a neighbor who is stopping by that you ran to the store and will be back soon. This is a great way to let a burglar or criminal know that you are out and won’t be back for a certain amount of time. If this is the case, wait for the friend to come and suggest they ride along on your errand or call them and let them know you will be going out.
- Be careful with voice mail messages – Sometimes it seems like a simple solution to tell all your friends that you are heading out on vacation or to leave it as your voice mail message. However, as mentioned above criminals may call your home to see if you are home before breaking in. If they are greeted by a message saying how you are in the Bahamas soaking up the sun until next Monday, you can be sure they will be targeting your house.
- Leave the radio or TV on – By leaving the Radio or TV on you are creating sound within the house. This can make it difficult for the robber to determine whether you are inside. Since leaving the TV on can lead to high electric costs, having a battery-operated radio can help conserve energy and will lead to the same results.
- Use a house-sitter – Getting a friend to look after your house for you while you are away on a trip or vacation is a great way to keep your house safe from burglars. Keep your fridge stocked with food and they might do it for free. If you will be gone for an extended time and can’t get a house-sitter, consider having someone stop by to check on your house and take your mail in.
- Pause mail and newspaper deliveries – If you are going away for more than 48 hours, it’s a good idea to pause your mail and newspaper delivery. Having a huge pile up of newspapers on your front porch is one of the easiest ways criminals can determine who is away in the area. When you are unable to stop your paper get a friendly neighbor to pick up your papers.
Agricultural Property Theft
With metal prices rising and many unattended properties in the county, scrap metal theft has become popular in Kiowa County. The best way to deal with this issue is for citizens to be observant and call the Sheriff’s Office immediately if you see individuals or vehicles in rural areas of the county which are out of place. Several thieves have already been arrested and charged by the Sheriff’s Office for this crime thanks to neighbors watching out for neighbors and contacting the Sheriff’s Office about suspicious individuals or activity.