Community Voices

Crime Watch: Easy tips to make your home and vehicle less vulnerable to break-ins

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

School has started and many of you are concerned about the burglaries. Rightly so: Burglaries happen between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. while many people are working.

These burglaries are sometimes committed by juveniles skipping school. Call the police when you see kids walking around your neighborhood during school hours. Most police departments have truancy squads, so make that call. You can help prevent these burglaries. Follow these tips to make your home and vehicle less vulnerable:

Residential tips

▪ Trim all shrubbery so it is at least six inches below the bottom of your windows.

▪ Trim tree limbs so they are at least eight feet off the ground, leaving a clear field of vision.

▪ Use outside lighting in an efficient and appropriate manner by investing in timers and motion sensors.

▪ You may need window treatment (blinds, curtains) to prevent someone from looking inside your home at night.

▪ All exterior doors should be equipped with deadbolt locks with a minimum one-inch throw.

▪ Sliding glass doors should be equipped with secondary locks.

▪ Always lock your doors and windows when leaving your house.

▪ Repair or replace all broken or inoperative windows, doors, lights and locks.

▪ If you have an automatic garage door, make sure it closes securely when you leave your home.

▪ If you have an alarm, make sure you use it. Teach your kids how to use it.

▪ Make sure you perform regular maintenance on your alarm.

▪ Record the serial numbers of your valuables or mark them with your driver’s license number so that they can be identified if stolen.

▪ Photograph your valuables, especially your jewelry and keep them on a thumb drive or secure location.

▪ Get to know your neighbors; they are your best defense and can only report suspicious activity when they know who or what doesn’t belong in the area. This is why Neighborhood Watch is so effective.

▪ Report all suspicious activity to your local police department.

Prevent vehicle break-ins

While this piece of advice should be a no-brainer, up to a quarter of vehicle thefts are from unlocked cars. Even if you're running into the store for a Coke, that's too long to leave your vehicle's contents open for the taking. Simply locking the doors will deter those who might just be waiting around for an easy target, and don’t forget to lock your car while getting gas.

Almost any worthless personal item that's visible from the outside —even an empty shopping bag — could be seen as a valuable or a carrier of valuables. If you have a wagon or SUV that leaves your cargo area on display, consider getting a cover.

Don't leave any bait out for thieves; stow your electronics and accessories well out of sight-or better yet, bring it with you. The evidence alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves. Don’t forget your Sun Pass transponder and garage opener are also targets.

Many police departments offer home security surveys. Call and schedule a time to check your home.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.