Fullerton: Tips to Burglar-Proof Your Home -- from Ex-Burglars

Medesco Door Lock Photo 
Southport Security officials discuss the medeco lock that is
recommended to use for homes. (Photo/Josclynn Brandon)

Fullerton IconBy Josclynn Brandon
The Red Line Project

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013

In the wee hours of a December morning in 2012, four men broke into a Lincoln Park residence setting off the alarm and startling a small family. This was the last straw for Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who hosted a meeting Wednesday night to launch an anti-burglary campaign.  

Burglaries are one of the biggest concerns for the North Side neighborhood, which lies in the 18th and 19th police districts. The most common are unforced entries.

“Unforced entry is when people just walk into your home because a door is open, a window is open,” said Captain Michael Ryan of the 19th police district. “We have more people going in through open doors than we have breaking windows and breaking doors.”

Some of those people are similar to the four that sat on a panel for a segment titled "Keepin' It Real," in which a group of former burglars talked about their experiences and gave the audience crime prevention tips. The discussion was led by Officer Maudessie Jointer of the 11th District, who posed various questions from how they would pick a victim to different deterrents. 

A privacy fence and alarms were a popular choice among members of the audience, but the panel of burglars said those aren't problems at all. One burglar said that it takes about 12 minutes for the police to arrive at the scene. It only takes them less than 10 minutes to get everything they want from the house. 

The biggest deterrent was what the panel described as "the nosy neighbor." Someone who may be up late at night, constantly looking out the window or who asks someone unfamiliar looking what are they doing in the area. 

Jointer asked the audience members if they knew their neighbors that live to the left or right of them. A silence and few chuckles gave her the answer. 

"People that are going to be burglars are looking for the path of least resistance," Ryan said.

All panel members said crime of opportunity as their personal choice. 

"What you can do is protect your own house," Ryan said. "Secure your doors secure your windows, don’t leave things lying around. Make your home as least attractive to a burglary as you can."

Tips for home security

  • Make sure you have good locks on your doors. Southport Security, which participated in the event, described what is called "lock bumping." This is where a person may take a key and put it into a lock it doesn’t belong to. Once a certain type of pressure and force is applied, the door opens. Otilio Arzola of Southport Security recommends medeco locks, which is made of tube steal and isn’t easy to open.

  • Get to know your neighbors. All of the burglars on the panel mentioned "a nosy neighbor" as a main deterrent. Spend time getting to know your neighbors and form block clubs. One burglar mentioned a nosy neighbor as the way he got caught.

  • Items on the side of your home. Do not leave trash cans or other tall items on the sides of your home where a burglar could use it to enter onto the second floor.

  • Trained dogs. Is your dog just a companion, or trained to protect your property? Most of the burglars said that they wouldn’t choose one home over another just because of a dog. “If anyone can feed your dog, so can I,” he said.

  • Take an inventory of your items. Keep serial numbers and pictures of your more valuable items located in a safe place. If an electronic item goes missing, this is information that may help the police locate it. Burglars are also aware that people keep their more valuable items closest to them, so the bedroom is the first place they choose to look. Hall closets and junk draws follow next.

  • Lock it up. Smith reminded audience members to remember to lock their doors, make sure all windows are locked and secured and the importance of working with your neighbors to prevent crime.

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