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Free program helps prevent burglaries

By chirst
Sept. 5, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.
Updated Sept. 6, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.

MPlacing pad locks on gates to privacy fences provides a layer of protection that makes it difficult for thieves to access your home.

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.

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