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September 21, 2006
Brandon Haught
Public Information Office

FIRST STEP TO PREVENT BURGLARIES: LOCK DOORS 

A garage door left open at night resulted in an easy score for an opportunistic burglar in Deltona earlier this month. The victim woke up the next morning and discovered his mountain bike was missing. In the New Smyrna Beach area, a generator and chainsaw left under a carport were snatched up. A woman in Deltona reported that her extensive jewelry collection was missing, and it’s entirely possible that the thieves made an easy entrance through a sliding glass door that might have been left unlocked. In each case, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies have no significant clues or witnesses to help solve the crimes. 

Unfortunately, unlocked doors, open doors and valuables left unsecured in plain sight are common. Burglars take a lot of risks when they commit their crimes. They have to move fast, remain unseen and hope the house they are targeting is actually unoccupied. On the other hand, life for the burglar can be easy when victims don’t take simple precautions to protect their homes and possessions. Most burglars count on it. 

Some burglaries happen during the day when a neighborhood may be empty because residents are at work or school. Sometimes a burglar may even attempt to get into your home when you’re there if they mistakenly believe the house is empty, which is why you should lock your doors even when you’re there. Also make sure to lock up when you leave on a quick errand. A burglar can be in and out of a house in less than 10 minutes while you’re visiting with a neighbor down the street. 

Of course, other burglaries happen in the middle of the night when victims and potential witnesses are asleep. A wide open door is a hard-to-resist temptation for even the most infrequent burglar. Part of your nightly routine should include securing your home before you go to bed. You might also want to invest in motion-activated floodlights, or possibly just leave porch lights on. Burglars want to remain unseen and a house with no dark areas outside to hide in can deter them. 

When your car is parked in the driveway or street, make sure to keep it locked too. Garage door openers left in unsecured cars provide yet another easy way to get into a home. You should take the garage door opener out of your car when you’re home or disable the garage door mechanism at night.

Here are some additional safety tips: 

  • Invest in solid doors and good quality locks on doors and windows. This includes sliding glass doors. Make it difficult and time-consuming for a burglar to get in.

  • Don't put valuables where they can be seen from outside. When you buy expensive items, break up the packaging and put it in a garbage bag or in the garbage can. You don’t want to advertise your new purchases at the curb on garbage pickup day.

  • Don’t leave your garage open when you are away; an empty garage broadcasts your absence.

  • When you aren't home, use a timer set to turn interior lights on and off at varying intervals as though your home was still occupied. 

  • Don't keep large amounts of cash or really valuable jewelry around the house. 

  • Plant thorny bushes under all windows. Trim back any trees or shrubs near doors and windows to eliminate hiding places for would-be thieves. 

  • Don't leave ladders outside. Keep any tools that could be used to break in your home safely locked away in a garage or shed. 

  • Engrave all valuables such as stereos, microwaves and video cameras with your driver's license number. Videotape the contents of your home. Keep the video and the list of all valuables in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box. 

In addition to all of these safety tips, it’s important to report any crimes as well as any suspicious behavior.  When you see strange persons or vehicles in your neighborhood at odd times of the day or night call local law enforcement and let your neighbors know. This element of citizen participation is important to successful crime solving. Don’t think that the crime is too minor or that the culprit will never be caught. Deputies need to be aware of all the thefts in the area in order to establish a possible pattern or collect evidence.  

Residents also are urged to join a Neighborhood Watch organization. The extra eyes and ears help to keep neighborhoods safe and crime-free. Each of the Sheriff’s Office’s five district offices in DeLand, Deltona, DeBary, New Smyrna Beach and Holly Hill has a point of contact who can provide additional information regarding home security and Neighborhood Watch programs. They can give crime prevention presentations to homeowners groups and civic organizations. 

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