CORAL SPRINGS, FL - Personal crimes are often called by the suffers of them the most unnerving.
Someone breaks into your house, and hopefully, you're not home. You have a sense something is amiss. A picture grows in your mind and enlarges.
First, it’s the “that space over the mantel. I was sure we had something hanging there” moment. Then you notice something on the floor, a drawer open. Something finally jolts you, like broken glass by the kitchen window. “OMG! We’ve been robbed!”
Then the second stage sets in—total paranoia. Is h/she/they still here? Do I call the police from inside the house or get out and call from the street, forgetting for the moment that cell phones don’t automatically come up on some 911 systems. Where are the kids? Is the dog alright? You’re in a frenzy. Why? Because this is a very personal crime. It isn’t like a stolen car. Someone has been in your home.
I know -- it’s happened to me. And it happened shortly after my wife ran off with someone else, sued me for divorce and I found myself living in a three-room apartment on Miami Beach. I came home from work, and amongst other things, five of my seven antique clocks I loved were gone.
This happens even in a fairly safe place like Coral Springs. This month, police investigated five incidents where burglars broke into homes.
Like my fairly pointed comments earlier this week about crimes of opportunity being your fault, we can crank up the same music. How do you keep your house safe?
Let’s start outside. Law enforcement agencies teach classes in environmental safety. Here are a few pointers.
Lights. Get a whole bunch of motion sensor lights. Why “a whole bunch?” Because it increases the odds of them not being turned off.
Sightlines. Cut down below eyesight level any foliage that makes it difficult or impossible to see what’s going on inside your house.
Plants. Under your first-floor windows plant something that has thorns, i.e. bougainvillea, crown or thorns, desert rose. Not only are these noisy, but they will catch and hold bits of cloth, DNA from scratches, and other things thieves don’t want to leave behind.
Doors front and back should have security doorbells. Your garage should have an automatic timer on it so if you forget to shut it, it does it for you.
Now to the inside.
Dogs help. Actually, small yappy dogs can be as effective as big dogs for raising a midnight ruckus. If you want a dog for protection, you must do two things. Research through the American Kennel Clubs dogs that they recommend for protection -- pit bulls are not one of them. Then buy that dog and be very serious about finding a trainer and teaching the dog that you are the Alpha person as the Beta, the dog’s job, is to take care of the Alpha and family. This is very important. YOU DO NOT WANT AN UNTRAINED OR POORLY TRAINED DOBERMAN, MASTIFF, GREAT DANE ETC. You’re safer with a thief.
At strategic sites inside the house, you should have lights on simple timers that go on at sunset and go off at different times giving the appearance that late-to-sleepers might be in this room or that. Somewhere central put an LED bulb in a floor lamp and have it on all night. You should do this even if you should have an alarm system, which you should.
When it comes to thieves, silence is golden. If you have window ledges, put breakable decorative pieces on them. When they hit the floor and awaken you, you call 911 while the thief takes off.
Oh yes, it helps to remember to set the alarm system when you close up for the night. Not setting it is equivalent to not having it.
Finally, these two thoughts.
The first is don't go looking for why there was a noise. If you can’t identify it, hit the alarm system’s panic button (whose location you should know instantly) or call the police. They will search your house for you, and you will sleep much better. And no one will call you names if it’s a false alarm.
The second is that nothing is worth your life. If you come face-to-face with someone who has a weapon and wants your money. Give it up and if it’ll help give them cookies and milk. I repeat nothing is worth your life or that of your family.
Actually, there is one more point. It’s that sign that says, “This home protected by Smith and Wesson.” We’ll talk about guns in the house for self-protection another time. Until then, get to work on setting up these simple, inexpensive, and time-proven self-protection measures.
Read William A. Gralnick’s recent columns for TAPinto Coral Springs:
A resident of South Florida for more than 30 years, Bill Gralnick has written more than 900 op-eds and columns for newspapers around the country, including columns for the Brooklyn Eagle.
His latest book, found on Amazon.com, Kindle or paperback, is the coming-of-age memoir, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales from Brooklyn.”
His writings can be found on his website: williamgralnickauthor.com
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