Summer’s arrival usually sparks the joy of carefree days, cookouts and travel, but letting down one’s guard presents opportunities for crime. Sadly, summer is also the peak season for burglaries, whether people are traveling out of town and temporarily leaving their homes vacant, or leaving doors and windows open to let in a breeze. Police records show that crime in Honolulu increases 2 percent during the summer months, June through August.
I know many people who have been burglarized and have compiled a list of 10 ways to improve the security of your jewelry and other treasured belongings.
1. A lot of people don't believe this, but when you invite guests to your home, you may be inviting burglary, particularly when friends want to bring someone you don't know. I am always hosting parties at my home and I'm very aware about what I have out. I make sure to hide any electronics and jewelry. Another risk is when you have a contractor or someone working on your property. They will have time to look around and make note of ways to access your home, as well as the strength of your security system. You usually trust them and leave them with a key that can be easily duplicated. I believe many burglaries are inside jobs conducted by people who know how to access your property, what you have, and what to steal.
2. Many people enjoy posting their activities on social media, but this can serve as an invitation for tech-savvy thieves. By posting pictures from a location, or while on vacation, thieves can determine the best time to strike. For example, if you RSVP for a Facebook event or mention you're counting the days to vacation time to Indonesia, you are announcing when you won't be home. Even if you’re doing something as basic as meeting with friends for yoga every Monday night, a thief can count on having at least an hour and a half to get in and out of your property. Selfies can also be a problem if you’re posting pictures of your new engagement ring or other valuable gifts you received for your birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or other special occasion. Posting these alerts criminals to what type of goodies to look for and whether you’re the right person to target.
3. Find a secure location for a safe or a vault safe. This could be in your closet under the floor planks with carpet placed over it, or built into a wall. This is easy to do. You can buy a safe at Home Depot and have a handyman or contractor install them for you. Once this is done, you cannot tell anybody about your safe, no family members or kids, who might inadvertently tell someone else about its location. Another option is to secure valuables off-site, such as at a storage facility or bank safe-deposit box.
4. Jalousie windows are the worst for security because they provide the easiest way for a criminal to enter your home. If you have jalousie windows, convert them into solid glass or drywall access panels.
5. Install a smart home system. These are so common you can actually get them at Costco. They allow you to remotely control household systems like lighting, doors, security alarms and surveillance cameras, allowing you to monitor activity on your property from your smart phone.
6. It’s good to have a pet, a dog or even a bird to let others know that there is activity on your property. I know this for sure because I had Snoopy almost 15 years and he was the best burglary system ever. My parents did not have a dog and their home was targeted twice.
7. A lot of homes these days are contemporary in style, aiming for views through big open windows. With that in mind, they usually don't have any blinds or curtains, but these are important for keeping valuables out of view, especially if there is ground-level access to your home and you don't have protective gates or neighbors walking on the street, who might serve as a deterrent to burglars.
8. Install motion lights or an audio system so that lights go on or the sound of a TV or radio comes on the minute an individual steps onto your property. This may be enough to startle them and let them know there may be someone in the house. I also recommend night lights as an expensive deterrent to crime.
9. I know a lot of people don't like to make friends with neighbors these days, but they can help you protect your home. Neighbors are very important, especially if they are retired or stay-at- home moms who are always present and aware about activity in the community. They know who belongs and who might be a stranger who needs to be watched. So I would make friends and exchange phone numbers with neighbors, and possibly set up a text alert system to warn each other of suspicious characters loitering in the area.
10. Lastly, set up signage on your property that alerts intruders that you have an alarm system, or set up “Beware of big dog” signs on the perimeter of your property. You might also set up a sign letting thieves know you are a proponent of shotguns and you are part of a fire arms association, any type of signage definitely helps. It’s very inexpensive, but very effective.