WESTCHESTER, N.Y. — Fleeing work for a week in the summer is a tradition for most people, and Westchester residents are no exception. As you leave home for a stint of relaxation, taking preventative measures can protect your home from burglars and provide peace of mind.
"Burglars are not just walking down the street on the off chance that somebody's not there. If it's a seasoned criminal, he's going to do research on whether the neighbors are home," New York State Police Sgt. James Kranik said.
Police and security consultants agreed that the best way to protect your home against a burglar is to give the impression the home is occupied.
Allowing newspapers to pile up in the driveway and mail to overflow from the box can be a giveaway that occupants are away. Notify local police agencies that you'll be away and have your home put on "dark watch." Have mail held at the post office, and stop delivery of newspapers until your return home. Motion-activated perimeter lights also deter burglars.
It might be fun to share vacation pictures through social media, but Kranik says homeowners share the dates and times of when they'll be aware to their detriment. State police have investigated cases where homeowners tipped off perpetrators of their whereabouts through social media.
Burglar alarms, though pricey, can be effective because police will respond. A low-tech solution can be to pick up burglar alarm stickers or signs and place them on the perimeter of the home, security consultants say. Even though there isn't a burglar alarm, it might make the nefarious-minded reconsider their target.
The best defense can be a nosey neighbor, Reasonable Locksmith owner and security consultant Leland "Lee" Imm says.
"A nosey neighbor is the best weapon, they've outbeat burglar alarms. When you call 911, the response time is approximately seven minutes," he said. Asking that nosey neighbor to park and then move their car in your driveway while you're away presents activity in the home.
Secure all window-mounted air conditioners or take them out. These air conditioners are often pushed into the window and provide easy access for burglars.
Also, install rotating light timers, leave a small radio tuned to a talk show and secure ladders outside the home because intruders can enter through a second-story window.
Basic home security also includes making sure all deadbolts click when turned, says Imm. All deadbolts should reach a depth of one inch; this allows a small pin to secure the deadbolt, so credit cards cannot be used to push back the lock.