Visualize Your Home through the Eyes of a criminal. Residential Crime and Prevention
She was going about her usual morning of cleaning in an uptown home in Santa Clara, California, when, according to a report released by MercuryNews.com, two men dressed in black entered the residence. One of the suspects was armed with a handgun. After stealing several personal items, the two men forced the housemaid into a room. Fortunately, the woman was not harmed—just terrified—and the two men fled the scene with their stolen goods.
In another report by News-Record.com, of Greensboro, North Carolina, the residents weren't as lucky. At just after 1:00 a.m., three masked intruders, one of which was a woman, entered the couple's apartment through a back door. One of the suspects had a gun. During the home invasion, the three thugs ransacked the place and physically assaulted the two victims, one of which required treatment at a local hospital.
Residential crimes like these occur across our nation every day. All it takes is to pick up the newspaper, browse the Internet, or watch your local news to find the troubling stories. Yet so many folks continue to live their lives in a way that leaves them, their homes, and their families unprotected. Why? Because when you've never been the victim of a crime, it's easy to believe it only happens to other people. But this is a mistake. Crime is everywhere and it doesn't discriminate. All it takes is an opportunity for a criminal to turn your world upside down.
Had the victims in the above news stories taken the time to educate themselves about residential crimes and put in place adequate home safety and security measures, they could have quite possibly been avoided.
Don't make the mistakes that so many residents make. Educate yourself about residential crimes and how to prevent them, then take the time to incorporate the security measures you learn into your life. By doing so, you'll significantly decrease your chances of being the center of a crime news report.
Lesson 1: Residential Crimes
Education goes a long way when it comes to crime. By learning what types of residential crimes occur, how often, and when, you can use that information to your advantage and protect yourself.
One of the best resources for learning about crime statistics is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI conducts a thorough review of a variety of crimes that get reported across the nation each year. The results are released in their annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The following are some statistics on property and residential crimes from their most recent report:
- The remainder (more than 15%) occurred at an unknown time.
- Over 38% of residential burglaries occurred during the daytime.
- More than 20% of residential burglaries occurred during the evening hours.
- Over 2 million of the property crimes reported in 2010 involved burglaries.
- There were over 9 million property crimes reported in the United States in 2010.
- More than 73% of the burglaries reported in 2010 involved residential properties.
- Approximately 60% of all burglaries occur through forcible entry (meaning a locked door or window).
Burglaries accounted for over $4 billion in property losses. If you do the math, you can see that a burglary occurs in the United States approximately every 15 seconds. Astounding, isn't it? That information alone should be enough for you to realize that it very well could be just a matter of time before a burglary catches up to you.
In summarizing the data from the UCR report, you can see that the majority of residential burglaries occur during the daytime hours. This is because most burglars prefer to carry out their crimes when no one is home. This makes it easier for them to steal what they want and leave without getting caught. So the daytime hours, when most people are at work or running errands, present prime opportunities for burglars.
As for the burglaries that occurred at an unknown time, it's likely that the residents were away from their home for a few days when the burglary took place, which is why they can't account for the time the crime occurred. You can still learn an important lesson from this data, however, because it again shows that the majority of burglaries occur when residents are not home.
Of course, from the news stories that get reported every day, burglaries in the form of home invasions do take place when one or more of the residents are present. Unfortunately, the 2010 UCR statistics don't reveal how many of the burglaries occurred when a resident was home and whether the crime involved some form of violence or sexual assault. To find this data, we must look to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The NCVS is conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice. Although much of the data is based on a sampling of the crimes reported during a specific year, it is quite valuable in terms of learning about how many home crimes involve violence, rape and/or sexual assault. The following is data from the most recent NCVS report released in May 2011:
- Over 11,000 of the above violent home crimes involved rape and/or sexual assault.
- Of the 108,000 violent home crimes that occurred in 2008, each was committed by a complete stranger.
These numbers are disturbing, especially when you think about the fact that the above data is based on a sampling of the crimes reported to the police in 2008. Considering that there are a number of crimes that never get reported to the police, these numbers could very well be higher.
Lesson 2: Through the Eyes of a Burglar
Just as important as knowing the statistics on residential crimes knows how criminals go about their dirty deeds. This is valuable information, as it can teach you what to look for when you evaluate your home for weakened areas of security. Here's what you need to know:
- Most burglars break in through a ground-floor entry point.
- The majority of burglars look for vacant houses and apartments with an open window or an unlocked door.
- The most common entry points are rear and side entry doors (locked or unlocked). A garage door is the second most common entry point.
- Most burglars look for easy targets. They prefer residences that provide a quick and easy way to get in and out without getting caught.
- The majority of burglars won't spend more than two minutes trying to break into a targeted residence. Once inside, most burglars carry out the theft and leave the residence within five minutes.
Lesson 3: Residential Crime Prevention
Now it's time to apply what you learned above to your own residence so that you can better protect you, your home, and your family, while reducing your risk of becoming a victim.
The first step is to assess your residence. This means walking around your home and looking for weakened points of security. Do you leave windows open during the day when you're not home? Are the locks on your windows secured? Are there any damaged or missing glass windowpanes? What about your doors? Lock them and then push and pull on the knobs to check for loose hardware. Ensure the hinges are also in good repair. When assessing your home, be sure to inspect it from the inside and the outside, both during the day and night.
When inspecting the outside of your home, pay attention to the lighting. Inadequate lighting can help criminals conceal themselves. Too much lighting can make scoping out your home easier. You also need to look for and eliminate items such as trellises, ladders, tall trees, and walls around the perimeter of your home that could aid a potential burglar in gaining entry through a second story patio door or window.
Once you've eliminated the areas of your home that present as open invitations to criminals, the next step is to ensure you have an adequate layer of home security in place. That means fortifying your doors and windows in a way that makes breaking into them extremely difficult. This will help deter a potential criminal, as a home that takes more than a minute or two to break into is not worth the extra time or effort. It makes more sense to a burglar to move on to an easier target than to risk getting caught.
Here are a few ways you can effectively fortify the security of your home's doors and windows:
- Insert metal or solid-wood rods into the tracks of all glass doors and windows that slide horizontally.
- Install protective security films on the windows of the ground level of your home. This protective film makes the glass difficult to break, thereby slowing down and deterring the burglar from proceeding any further.
- Install a glass break sensor on the ceiling of each room that has windows and have the sensors linked to an extremely loud alarm. This will increase the chance of an intruder stopping in his tracks and fleeing the scene.
- Main entry doors, such as your front door, should be constructed of solid wood or metal. All hollow-core doors should be replaced. Doorframes should also be reinforced with heavy-duty hinges and 2- to 3-inch stainless steel screws.
- In addition to having a heavy-duty deadbolt lock on your front door, install a quality security door brace. This will ensure your door can withstand over 1700 pounds of pressure, which can prevent the most vigorous attempt of forcible entry.
By educating yourself and applying what you've learned to your home's security, you've taken an important step in protecting not only your residence, but you, your family and you’re most prized possessions. You've also learned some valuable information that you can pass along to others as a way to help educate and protect them from residential crimes.
Sources: 1. U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States 2010, Property Crime. 2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization in the United States, 2008 Statistical Table, National Crime Victimization Survey, May 2011.
Jordan Frankel, commonly known as The Security Sensei develops revolutionary security products and solutions that protect both lives & property. Countless agencies and corporations such as NASDAQ, the US Military, and law enforcement entrust Mr. Frankel with their security and safety. Jordan Frankel is also frequent media guest addressing the personal and financial consequences associated with home invasions, burglaries and other serious threats. In addition, Mr. Frankel's security products & inventions have been featured on Oprah, FOX news and in countless publications. Jordan's ability to outsmart the proverbial bad guys - coupled with his commitment to making security an affordable reality for everyone is the key to Global Security Experts Inc success. Mr. Frankel (The Security Sensei) is available for media interviews by appointment only.
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