Crime

Tips to keep from becoming victims of auto and home break-ins

Keeps your vehicle doors locked and their alarms on. Make sure that your front porch light is on because good lighting is a good deterrent. Don’t be lazy and leave laptops, gym bags or anything that is going to bring attention to a thief.
Keeps your vehicle doors locked and their alarms on. Make sure that your front porch light is on because good lighting is a good deterrent. Don’t be lazy and leave laptops, gym bags or anything that is going to bring attention to a thief. Miami Herald File

I keep getting reports that many parked cars — 8 out of 10 — are still being left unlocked.

We’re making it easy for late-night criminals to break in and steal. All they have to do is walk through a neighborhood and check doors to see if they are open. Then they take whatever is inside. And since most of us are asleep at night, no one sees anything.

CarmenCaldwell2011.jpg
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

Solution: Keeps your vehicle doors locked and their alarms on. Make sure that your front porch light is on because good lighting is a good deterrent. Don’t be lazy and leave laptops, gym bags or anything that is going to bring attention to a thief.

Gas stations

Once again I am going to “harp” on what you need to do when you stop for gas. Thefts at gas stations, again, are crimes of opportunity.

Solution: The minute you pull up to the gas pump, place your purse on the floor on the side your gas tank is on. Why? Because that is the side you will be pumping gas. And when you get out of your car, lock the doors. While you are pumping gas don’t be on the cellphone — you need to be looking around for any suspicious person or car.

Fumigation

OK, it’s termite season in Florida. Many homes during the spring months hire companies to fumigate their houses. Well, needless to say, you must be very careful who you hire. You need to make a complete check on the company you use because some have been known to clean out your house before the tent goes up. And even with the house tented and poison gas inside, you’re at risk. Many criminals will wear gas masks to break into your home.

Solutions:

▪ Check with Better Business Bureau or do a Google search to see if customer comments have been left about your exterminating company.

▪ Call your local police and place a watch order on the house.

▪ Advise your neighbors and, if possible, give them a number where you can be reached.

▪ Contact your alarm company and advise them your home is being tented. Often, fumigation companies don’t allow you to turn on burglar alarms when gas is inside the house. Check to see what, if any, areas of the home you can activate the system.

Folks, it is extremely important that you take with you valuables such as jewelry, passports and important papers that have financial information, such as bank statements. Ask the company if they have a security guard who you could hire if not too expensive.

Also, ask about their policy if someone should break-in — do they have insurance for your loss?

I cannot tell you how many emails I have received about this issue, from people whose houses were burglarized during the tenting process. So ask those questions and contact your police department. Don’t become a victim.

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

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