Preventing Home & Car Break-ins
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Preventing Home & Car Break-ins

Tips for Keeping Your Home Secure
If Going Out, Even for a Short Time
Tips to Avoid Car Break-ins
What to Do if Your Home or Car Has Been Broken Into
How to Tell When Someone Might Be Casing Your Home
If Going Away for an Extended Period of Time

Break-ins are often crimes of opportunity and yes, there are break-ins here in The Villages and here in our Lynnhaven. It is so important to stay aware of what is going on in our neighborhood and alert to anything out of the ordinary. With so many service and delivery vehicles in our neighborhood each and every day, we must remember, most break-ins and burglaries happen between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Let's look out for one another! Thieves are counting on you not paying attention to them.
Stay alert to anyone in your area that may not belong or is hanging around a house in your area.

If you notice anything suspicious (e.g., a workman hanging around a door, someone looking in windows, lurking around a home or in the bushes), call 9-1-1 immediately. If you see anyone suspicious, take a moment to write down their license plate, make notes describing the person and how they were dressed, or their behavior that made you suspicious, so if there is a break-in, you can provide police some additional information.

Tips for keeping your home secure:

  • Burglars want to spend no more than 60 seconds breaking into a home, so make entry more time-consuming by installing deadbolt locks on doors and locks on windows. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

  • Make sure that the hinges on all doors leading outside are on the inside of the house/door so a burglar can't remove the pins and door. (Our back door leading to the lanai was installed with the hinges on the outside. We never noticed until it was pointed out to us. Check yours.)

  • Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.

  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Lay a board or PVC pipe that fits snugly in the track, wide enough to prevent any jiggling or lifting of the door from the outside. Special locks are available for better security.

  • Some windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

  • Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other "secret" hiding places like a fake rock burglars know where to look for hidden keys. Instead leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor.

  • Keep your garage door closed unless you are in it. If you have a garage screen, even if it has code access for opening it, install a motion detector near the entrance and out of sight, with a loud alarm that will attract the attention of neighbors or yourself if you are alone and the screen is cut and an intruder has entered.

  • An alarm system is excellent for home security. If you have a home alarm system, use it! Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them. Some people put an alarm system sticker on a window or put a sign out, but few burglars are fooled by that.

  • Trim or clear bushes, hedges, trees and other vegetation that can provide a hiding place for criminals. Add extra lighting at entrances and have motion detectors at entrances, front and back, and especially dark corners of your home.

  • Don't hide valuables in popular places like dresser drawers, bedroom closets, or freezers. Those are the first places burglars look. Use a safe for jewelry and weapons, and have it bolted to the floor so it can't be carried away. Favorite items stolen are cash, jewelry, electronic equipment and games, silver, guns and items easily sold to pawn shops, second-hand stores, or on the street.

If going out, even for a short time:

  • The most important thing you can do is call the police to report a crime or any suspicious activity. You are the eyes of your neighborhood and a large part of community policing efforts.

  • Thieves look for homes that appear to be empty, so make your home look occupied. Leave a radio or TV on so it sounds like you are home, and leave a light on if it might be dark when you get home.

  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house, and activate alarms if you have them.

Tips to avoid car break-ins:

  • Bring valuables like cell phones, purses, GPS devices, satellite radios, etc. inside. Never leave anything of value in plain view.
  • Always lock the doors, roll up windows, and close sunroofs. Break-ins can occur in even the safest neighborhoods, and an unlocked car is one of the easiest possible targets.
  • Never leave a spare key in the visor, under a floor mat, or anywhere else inside the car, even if the car is locked.
  • Don't leave the garage door opener in plain view, either.
  • Never leave anything laying out with personal information, like your address, phone number, etc.
  • Do not move valuable items to the trunk while in public view. Last year, there were car trunk break-ins while people were taking an exercise class, were at a fitness or wellness center, or were swimming.

What to do if your home or car has been broken into:

  • If there are signs that your home was broken into, do NOT go in.
    • Stay calm, get to a safe place or go to a neighbor's and call 9-1-1.
    • When the police arrive, they will secure your home, making sure the possible intruder has gone.
    • Then walk them through your home and give them as many details as you can, note items that may have been taken, or what could have happened to lead to this situation.
    • Do not touch or clean up anything until they have collected evidence and gone.
  • If there are signs that your car has been broken into:
    • If the break-in is in progress, call 9-1-1, and do NOT approach him or her.
    • If the break-in has happened and the intruder is gone, call (352) 793-2621, the non-emergency number.
      • Stay inside and wait until the police arrive, which may take longer since it is not an emergency.
      • Do Not touch or clean up anything until evidence has been collected and the police are gone.

How to tell if someone might be casing your home:

  • Strange cars parked in your neighborhood.

  • Strangers walking down your street.

  • People pretending to conduct a survey or sell you something.

  • Strangers with an emergency or in need of help.

  • Strangers taking pictures of your home.

  • Random flyers showing up on your door.

  • Something doesn't feel right.

  • Calls from unknown numbers to see if you are home.

If going away for an extended period of time:

  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices, if needed.

  • Lock or disable your garage doors and test them before leaving. If one or both of them don't lock, disable them.

  • If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system before leaving.

  • Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers to build up while you are away. Arrange for the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them in regularly.

  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed and bushes trimmed while away so the house still looks occupied.

  • Do NOT share your vacation or trip plans on social media and be selective of the people you tell.

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