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Best practices for preventing burglaries

Every year Mercer Island residences are burglarized by people, some who live here and some who do not. In 2011 the Mercer Island Police Department investigated 59 burglaries that were reported throughout the year. As of the end of July, the MIPD has investigated 48 such incidents.

Not only is the department seeing an increase in burglaries, but there has been an increase of daytime and interrupted burglaries, meaning thieves are breaking in when people are more likely to be home.

Here are some tips from the MIPD to keep burglars from targeting your home:

Inside the home

• Keep doors and windows locked and secured when at home or away.

• Always use/set the alarm. If your home is unlawfully entered while you are home or away, the police will be notified (but check with your security company on this process first). This will increase the chance that the burglar will immediately leave the residence after hearing the alarm, which increases the chance that your possessions and family will remain untouched and unharmed. This also increases the chance of the Police Department catching the person responsible for breaking into your home. Remember, burglars do not like to be seen.

Outside your home

• Place motion detector lights around doors and windows to illuminate possible burglars during the night time hours. Place/mount these motion detector lights high enough up to where a burglar cannot reach up and disable the light. Always remember, burglars don’t want to be seen.

• Place high-resolution cameras in high spots overlooking doors, windows, and driveways.

• Place visible signs at your front door and at the entrance to your driveway that your residence is monitored by a security company or a security camera, as this in an inexpensive way to possibly deter a person looking to break into your house.

• Lock your car and set your car alarms. Don’t leave purses/GPS/wallets/keys in plain sight that would make you an easy target for a burglar/thief to look into your window and take your belongings. Don’t be lazy in protecting yourself. Park your vehicle in your garage, if you have one, and still remember to lock and secure your car.

Personal Information Protection

• Use a mailbox with a locking mechanism to prevent thieves from stealing your mail and you becoming a victim of ID theft.

• Place sensitive information (Birth certificates, social security information, etc.) in a heavy locking safe hidden somewhere inside your home.

• Do not keep personal information/money/valuables in plain site (i.e. on tables or desks where someone can look into a window and be tempted to break in and take it).

• Record all serial numbers and descriptions for high-end electronics and merchandise (laptops, cameras, jewelry, etc.). These serial numbers may assist investigators in recovering your stolen items and catching the person(s) responsible for taking them.

• Back up your personal information.

Neighborhood Safety

• Keep an eye on your neighbor’s homes and belongings. If you see someone that looks out of place and is acting suspicious around your neighbor’s house, call the police department and immediately report the suspicious activity.

• Get to know your neighbors and exchange phone numbers with one another in case of an emergency.

• Get license plate numbers of suspicious cars and descriptions of suspicious cars/individuals.

Whether your home has been broken into, your personal information has been compromised, or your invaluable possessions have been stolen, it can leave you and your family living in fear and feeling helpless. The Mercer Island Police Department has put together a Crime Prevention booklet to help citizens keep themselves safe from burglaries and many other types of crimes. Burglary prevention information can be found on pages 4-8. This crime prevention booklet can be found online at http://www.mercergov.org/files/Crime%20Prevention.pdf.

Officer Rob Jira serves with the Mercer Island Police Department.

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