Free program helps prevent burglaries
Sept. 5, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.
Updated Sept. 6, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.
How to secure your home
The Perimeter of home
Adequate outside lighting that is motion activated and on a dawn-to-dusk timer.
Make sure fences are locked, otherwise they can easily provide cover for burglars to hide from view.
Keep entryways, doors and windows, visible to neighbors and the street by making sure that landscaping does not provide concealment for burglars.
Minimize tools and items stored outside to prevent theft and to prevent those items from being used as tools to commit the crime.
The Exterior of home
Make sure all doors, including inside garage doors, are exterior grade.
Check that the screws used in dead bolts are 3-inch hardened steel screws. - Use stoppers on sliding doors and windows to keep them from opening, in case the lock is picked or fails.
Keep the garage door locked, even if you have to install a lock on the track, because it can be opened from the outside.
The interior of home
Cheap alarm systems, such as battery-powered magnetic switches, can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Maintain good habits, such as not leaving keys outside the home. Keep spares with a trusted family member or friend.Maintain a property inventory for insurance purposes.
Source: Officer Chris Guerra, Victoria Police Department
HOW TO GET A FREE HOME INSPECTION
Call the crime prevention unit at 361-485-3808 and schedule an appointment.
Burglaries in Victoria
July 2012: 56
January-July 2012: 375
January-July 2011: 454
*Percent change from 2011 to 2012: -17.40 %
SOURCE: VICTORIA POLICE DEPARTMENT
Her doors and windows were locked; stoppers were even blocking them from opening.
But all he had to do to break into her house was pick her sliding glass door up off the track and move it.
"Aww shoot, I didn't even think about that," exclaimed Becky Perez, a Victoria homeowner, as she watched an officer from the Victoria Police Department wiggle the door off the track.
She continued to trail Officer Chris Guerra, with the crime prevention unit, as he inspected her house, looking for weaknesses in her home security.
He examined the windows, nodding with approval when he found they were locked and dowel rods were installed.
"Locks are only as good as how much you utilize them," he joked with Perez.
When Guerra moved onto the door coming in from the garage, however, he marked it down as a failure on the home inspection sheet.
Since garages are one of the most common points of entry, said home burglary Detective James Poe with the Victoria Police Department, doors in garages should be exterior grade.
"I just happened to know about dowel rods, but the patio door being lifted up and the exterior door between the garage and the kitchen - I don't think very many people know that," Perez said.
Poe said he recommends the victims he comes across to sign up for the free home inspection.
"If you don't have these programs to make people aware, then they aren't going to be," Poe said.
Average people don't think like burglars, but police have been trained to, Guerra said.
"The things I'm looking for are the features of the home that will actually attract burglars," Guerra said. "Most of the burglars we have in Victoria, amateur burglars, won't spend more than 30 seconds trying to get into one home."
The crime prevention unit offers these home inspections to Victoria residents, and they take about an hour to complete.
Guerra, licensed through the state as a crime prevention inspector, has never had a home pass the first inspection.
However, after a resident takes his recommendations and makes the necessary changes, some insurance companies will offer discounts on home insurance.
"If you put so many of these different features in place, it will make it difficult for a burglar, and their risk factor is going to go up. ... There will always be an easier target," Guerra said. "For every one person who takes the time to fortify their home, there will be four or five who haven't done these things."
Perez said she plans to make the recommended changes as soon as possible.
"Any little bit helps, and if they (the insurance company) will accept it and give me that discount - I know insurance has gone up every year - so 5 percent off what I pay now is a good chunk," Perez said.