As the holiday season fast approaches, the Columbia Police Department would like to remind citizens to safeguard their valuables before leaving home.
Last year, citizens reported 14 residential burglaries during Thanksgiving break (between 11/18/16 and 11/29/16). The burglaries were not concentrated to a certain area of town. It's important citizens remain vigilant before they begin their holiday travels and keep these burglary prevention tips in mind:
- Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened. An open window or door is an open invitation for burglars. Thieves are also quick to spot weak locks that may be easily forced open. Doors should have deadbolt locks with a one inch throw and reinforced strike plate with three inch screws. All windows should have window locks.
- Secure sliding glass doors by placing a metal rod or a wooden dowel rod in the track and install vertical bolts. This will help prevent burglars from forcing the door open or lifting it off the track.
- Always lock the door to an attached garage. Don't rely on your automatic garage door opener for security.
- Drop all blinds/shades over windows so criminals cannot look inside.
- Create the illusion that you are home by using timers on lights, radios and TV's. Make your residence appear occupied, even when no one is home, to help deter criminals.
- Keep the perimeter of your home well lit. Installing low voltage outdoor lighting is a cost-effective way to discourage intruders as well as highlight a house.
- Never leave clues that you are away on a trip. Have a trusted neighbor collect mail and newspapers while you are away so delivered items do not accumulate. You can also ask a neighbor to park in your driveway or parking place to make it appear that you are present.
- Never leave a message on your telephone answering machine telling people that you are away from home. A message that you will return at a certain time leaves your home vulnerable in the interim.
- Keep shrubbery trimmed away from entrances and walkways. Large and ornate hedges may be beautiful but they also provide a hiding place for burglars who need only a minute to break in through a window or door.
Citizens are encouraged to keep track of their valuables using the free online system, ReportIt.LeadsOnline.com. Through this service, citizens can record serial numbers and upload images for phones, electronics, and other valuables. Should the items ever be stolen, having this information inventoried will go a long way in accurately and quickly identifying the property in investigations.
Officers, focused on burglary suppression, will be patrolling areas throughout Columbia. Join them in keeping neighborhoods safe - if you notice suspicious activity or people in your neighborhood, report it to law enforcement immediately. You can find burglary prevention tips and videos on our website at www.CoMo.gov/Police/burglary-prevention-tips.