CLIFFVIEW PILOT SPECIAL REPORT: By the time you finish reading this brief article, at least two homes somewhere will have been burglarized.
Every year, 2.2 million burglaries occur in the U.S. That’s 6,100 a day — one every 14 seconds, according to a home security group that has produced a funky presentation explaining why we should care.
Of those break-ins, 70 percent are of homes, according to a graphic supplied by AuthoritySafes.com.
Nearly 15 percent of burglars are women, and most hit between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when a large majority of people aren’t home, the statistics show.
The country has a median household income of just over $50,000 — which means the $2,100 average haul represents 4 percent of a full year’s earnings.
No surprise that most burglars make off mostly with cash, jewelry, guns, silver and electronics. After all, when you have only 90 seconds to get in and out, you have a pretty good idea of what you need to grab. Just yesterday, the folks at Wyckoff’s Assembly of God Church on Franklin Avenue told police someone got inside and made off with $5,000 worth of electronics after failing to crack open a safe.
You might be surprised at the national arrest rate for burglaries: Only a bit over 13 percent.
Decrease that by the number who have sold or successfully hidden the booty and you have some idea what scant chance you have at retrieving your valuables.
There are steps you can take to keep from becoming a statistic, though. But first you have to understand a burglar’s logic.
For one thing, they always take the path of least resistance. They will avoid having to take time or risk being seen. So their “work” becomes systematic:
They look for soft targets — those that don’t have obvious signs of security, of course, but also those that are obscured by trees and other objects. They will then spend no more than a minute’s time trying to get in. If they can’t, they’ll move on. If they can, they’re out of the house inside of 90 seconds.
Three-quarters of those who do get in have broken a window, jimmied a door, or forced an entrance open.
Make sure all doors and windows are secure, especially in back; use window stops (you can always pop them out when you’re home on a comfortable day);
Clear windows and doors of any bushes, trees or shrubs so that you, your neighbors — and, if necessary, police — can see them;
Deadbolts are a no-brainer, but only if the screws are at least a couple of inches long. Otherwise, Snooki could kick your door in;
If you don’t have motion detector lighting outside, get it. If you do, make sure it’s working properly. DO NOT have it close enough to the ground that someone could unscrew the bulb;
Lock away ladders, other types of boosters or tools lying around the outside of the house;
Make sure your house number can be seen clearly from the street at any time of day, just in case you need police, fire or ambulance service;
Set lights, televisions and radios on timers;
DO NOT KEEP VALUABLES in obvious places: The first, and sometimes only, destination of any burglar is the master bedroom;
Inventory your valuables with photos or videos, put the disc in a safe place — and, please, make sure you use an innocuous label (“Billy’s Birthday” will do just fine). It could help police but also comes in handy when you notify your insurance company;
Lock your car, even when it’s in your driveway, and don’t keep valuables inside. This is one that confounds police: A majority of incidents involve expensive electronics and other items left in an UNLOCKED vehicle;
If you’re going away for awhile: (a) notify police headquarters to put your home on the vacant list; they‘ll be sure to drive by now and then (b) arrange for deliveries to be suspended or picked up.
You’ve probably figured this one already, but one of the most tried-and-true burglar deterrents has four legs — and it’s not your coffee table. Could be a Pomeranian (Remember: A burglar doesn’t want to spend time or be noticed).
If you have elderly parents, make them aware of “diversion” burglaries. That’s when one or two people convince a senior of a utility company or TV service visit. Make sure you know — and your folks know — that you shouldn’t allow anyone into your home without 100 percent certainty of who they are and where they come from.
If they are genuine, they will understand if you call a particular utility or even the police — who will not be bothered in the least.
Citizens “should never be uncomfortable in contacting the police for something that they deem is suspicious,” Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. Police would “rather check hundreds of calls that are unfounded than have someone not call us about something that turns out to be important.”
Finally, here’s one you might not have thought of, courtesy of New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro:
“Burglars use social networking sites to determine when a home will be empty. Do not announce your day’s activities on those sites. A simple entry such as “going shopping with the kids” tells a burglar that there may be an easy target available.
“If you want to share your day’s events with your cyber friends, do it at the end of the day.”
(As for the opening sentence: The average person reads 300 words a minute.)