Summertime is the perfect time for a family break. Recreational activities such as swimming, biking, boating and camping are some of the most common ways that families share their summer time together. Unfortunately, criminals don't take a summer break. During the late spring and summer months, property crime in most jurisdictions has the tendency to climb.
This installment of summer safety tips will address home security, and will suggest how access to your residence can be controlled by physical and deterrent measures. Those suggestions include:
Install single cylinder dead-bolt locks on all doors, including the door from the garage into living spaces. Bolts should be a minimum throw of one-inch. Strike plates should have screws that are at least three inches long. Doors should be solid hardwood or metal clad. Hinges should be located on the inside or have non-removable pins. Special locks are required on double and Dutch doors. French doors that that are easily compromised should be made of a burglar-resistant material.
Install a steel reinforcement device on the lock side of all exterior wood frame door frames. This will prevent potential thieves from kicking or forcing the door open. To be effective it should extend well above and below the strike plate.
If you have a pet door, it should be the smallest that your pet can get through. If you have a large pet and a person can squeeze through the door, locate the door inside your yard so access to it can be controlled by a locked side-yard gate.
Don't rely on chain locks for security. They're only good for privacy.
Re-key or change all locks when moving into a new home. Make sure the locksmith is licensed by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Service. You can verify a license at www.bsis.ca.aloa.org.
Go to a locksmith or hardware store for advice on locks. All locks should be resistant to "bumping." Bumping is a lock picking technique for opening pin tumbler locks using a specialized key. Sets of these keys can be easily purchased.
Install security bars or screens on all windows that a potential thief might compromise to enter your home, including those on the second floor. Bars must comply with Fire Code requirements for inside release to permit an occupant escape in the event of a fire. Screens should have the following features.
1. Four-sided stainless
2. Steel mesh which can't be cut with a knife.
3. Mesh secured to the frame to resist dynamic impacts
4. Rust and corrosion resistant
5. Passed Australian Standards (AS) knife shear, dynamic impact, jimmy, and salt spray tests
6. Multi-point locking
7. Deadbolt lock with key which can only be duplicated by the manufacturer
Install security screen doors in front of ground- level and balcony doors.
Use burglary-resistant materials in all windows and doors. These include laminated glass made of vinyl, tempered or safety glass, plastic acrylics commonly called Plexiglas, polycarbonate and glass with security film.
Install a fence around your backyard.
Plant bushes with thorns or prickly leaves in front of windows and along fences.
Trim trees so that limbs don't provide access to roofs, second stories, etc.
Install burglar alarms and cameras.
Post burglar alarm and camera signs, and put alarm company stickers on ground-level doors and windows.
Have a dog that can scare a stranger way by barking or looking fierce.
Use fence gates, landscaping, pavement treatment, signs, etc. to define clear boundaries between your property and adjoining properties.
If you are facing continual crime problems notify the Gustine Police Department immediately.
Install sensor activated security lighting systems.
Leave outside lights on after dark or have outside lights controlled by a timer. Street lights are generally inadequate for illuminating your property.
Check lights regularly and replace bulbs as needed.
Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
Leave a radio or television on in the house so it looks and sounds occupied.
Trim bushes to less than three feet to eliminate possible hiding places, especially near windows and sidewalks.
Trim tree canopies to at least eight feet to allow visibility into your property. Homes that are hidden from the street and the neighbors are more likely to be targeted.
Replace solid walls in front yards with open fencing to eliminate hiding places and make climbing more difficult.
Lock all doors and windows when going out, even if just "for a minute." They can be left partially open for ventilation only if they have security bars or screens, or secondary locking devices in use.
Lock gates and keep garage doors closed.
Store bicycles, mowers, etc. in a locked garage or shed, or secure them to a fixture.
Don't leave a ladder in your yard. It is an invitation for theft.
Don't leave notes on your door when you are away from your home.
Don't leave keys in mailboxes or planters, under doormats, or in other common hiding spots.
If someone knocks at your door or rings the doorbell, look at them through your peephole, video intercom or a window not in close proximity to the door, but with an exterior view. Don't open the door for anyone you don't know.
If you don't want to come to the door and don't want the person there to think that no one is home, say something like " we can't come to the door now." Potential burglars often knock on doors to see if anyone is at home. If you don't respond, they may think no one is home and attempt to break in. If you do respond, they will usually go away and try another location.
Solicitors, including peddlers or interviewers must have in their possession a copy of a City of Gustine permit allowing door to door solicitation.
Call the Gustine Police Department at 854-3737 if a solicitor does not display a city permit.
Post a NO SOLICITING sign if you don't want a solicitor at your door.
Be suspicious of persons making unsolicited offers of service. Scams by fraudulent contractors, home security system salespeople, and others offering various forms of services are becoming more common place.
Don't let any workers who say they are there to fix or check a problem enter your home, until you can confirm with the agency they represent. Ask for photo identification.
Don't give your name, phone number, or whereabouts on your answering machine message. Never say that you are not home. Just ask the caller to leave a message.
Don't leave your home keys on a chain with vehicle keys when you use valet parking. Also, don't leave your garage door opener where it is easily accessible.
Don't give maids, babysitters, or others working in your home access to your home keys or alarm codes.
Call 911 if you are at home and you think someone might be breaking in. Don't take direct action yourself. An officer will be dispatched to your address even if you cannot speak or hang up.
Don't discuss your financial assets with strangers.
Don't keep large sums of money at home.
Keep valuable papers, stocks, bonds, expensive jewelry, coin collections, etc., in a bank safe deposit box. If you do keep valuables at home, don't keep them in the master bedroom. That is the first place a thief will look and ransack.
Maintaining Your Property
Keep your property in good condition and free of trash, litter, weeds, leaves, graffiti, dismantled or inoperable vehicles, and other indicators of neglect.
Replace broken windows, screens, fences and gate locks.
Use screens, wired glass, or other protection for light fixtures and bulbs.
Remove loose rocks and other objects that could be used to vandalize your property.
On behalf of the men and women of the Gustine Police Department, we wish you a safe and relaxing summer.
Gustine Chief of Police