CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - It's estimated that a home is burglarized every 15 seconds in the United States.
Burglaries have also been on the rise in many parts of our area, but don't be a victim! This week, we talked to a crime expert to find out how to keep your home and belongings safe.
Police say there is one thing a criminal is almost always looking for when on the prowl and looking for a home to break into.
"First and foremost, burglars are looking for easy targets, so if you can make your home a difficult target—locking your windows, locking your doors, do so," says Officer Marvin Williams, who works in Crime Prevention for the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department.
But don't just take it from police. Eighty-six inmates—serving time for burglary— provided some valuable inside information in a questionnaire sent out by Portland, OR TV station, KGW.
Some of the secrets that the burglars turned inmates revealed:
- All knocked on the front door before breaking in.
- Most broke in through an unlocked door or window.
- Most feared someone was inside if they heard a radio or TV.
- Most left immediately if a security alarm went off.
- Most moved on if they saw a vehicle in the driveway.
Officer Williams says giving the appearance that you are there is often an effective measure.
"Even though you are not there, the idea is to make your home look lived in, so it may not catch the eye of someone who says oh this is an easy target," he said.
Officer Williams says that means cutting back shrubbery to no more than two feet and tree canopies to no less than six feet to allow for natural surveillance from the street.
Making sure your home is well-lit can also make a big difference.
"It's been statistically shown that lighting is the greatest deterrent for crime or any unseemly activity," Williams pointed out.
Along with making sure that you lock your windows and doors, there are also home improvements that will make a difference. Deadbolts and doors that bolted to the wall by a screw that is at least two and a half to three inches long.
He says you can put in certain devices that will help secure the door, support the door.
Another good idea is to record to serial numbers of your valuables - such as electronics and firearms - that criminals are often after in case your home is ever broken into. Take photos of items that don't have serial numbers.
"Some things don't have serial numbers—jewelry for instance. Take a picture of it. If there are any distinguishing marks, if one stone has an odd color, it's okay to notate that, you know to keep a catalog of your precious items. That way you can say this jewelry was taken. It's also great for your insurance company as well," Williams said.
While nothing is 100 percent, the more deterrents you can place in the path of the burglar from lighting to locks to security alarms and cameras, the better your chances of not becoming a victim.
Getting to know your neighbors and forming a neighborhood watch group can also be an effective measure in combatting burglaries.