7th Police District offers crime prevention tips

You were out­side mow­ing your front lawn and then you headed to your back­yard. What did you do wrong?

A. Left your front door un­locked

B. Left your gar­age door up or shed door open

C. Left your car un­locked in your drive­way

D. Everything

Not really a trick ques­tion, but, yes, the an­swer is D, everything.

Burg­lar­ies are crimes of op­por­tun­ity, said Mi­chael O’Han­lon, the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict’s crime pre­ven­tion of­ficer. That you’re right there on your own prop­erty is no de­terrent to burg­lars, es­pe­cially if you’re mak­ing their pro­fes­sion­al lives so easy, he said.

If you can’t see your gar­age, then don’t leave it open while you’re just around the back, O’Han­lon said. Burg­lars can be in, out and walk­ing down the street with your snow blower in a mat­ter of mo­ments. Ditto if you’ve left a shed open or un­locked.

Sim­il­arly, if your front door is un­locked, some­body can be in your house and swip­ing your wal­let, jew­elry and pre­scrip­tion meds while you’re too busy at­tack­ing the crab­grass to no­tice. And that smart­phone you figured you’d put on the char­ger in your car while you’re do­ing your yard­work? Well, that’s an easy tar­get, too.

Wel­come to spring in the big city.

There are more people out on the street as the weath­er warms and not all of them are out there for fresh air. They’re look­ing around for easy scores. If you keep in mind where you are and use a little com­mon sense, you might dodge be­ing one of them.

This is not the first time this news­pa­per has pub­lished an art­icle with some com­mon-sense anti-burg­lary tips, and it prob­ably won’t be the last. 

Ask any cop about home or car break-ins and you’ll hear com­ments like, “We’re get­ting killed on burg­lar­ies.” Prop­erty crimes are a city­wide plague. Sound ad­vice is worth re­peat­ing.


There are some ob­vi­ous things any­one can do to keep the house­break­ers out, O’Han­lon said.

• Keep your doors and win­dows shut and locked. All your doors -— in your house, your car, your gar­age, your shed.

“About a month ago,” O’Han­lon said in an April 25 phone in­ter­view, “we were get­ting killed with shed burg­lar­ies in Fox Chase.” Burg­lars were grabbing lawn mowers and snowblowers and “whatever they could get,” he said.

• Don’t leave any­thing in your car that can be seen from the out­side. O’Han­lon means any­thing. Phones, laptops, wal­lets and purses are not the only at­tract­ive ob­jects, he said. Burg­lars will go after any­thing, even loose change.

“There are guys who go down the street at 2 or 3 in the morn­ing, try­ing door handles,” he said.

• If you can af­ford out­side light­ing, video sur­veil­lance sys­tems or alarm sys­tems, get them.

• Get in­to the habit of look­ing around your house be­fore you leave it. As the weath­er warms, you might pull your win­dows up and your screens down to cool off your house. Shut and lock those win­dows when you leave. A win­dow screen is no real obstacle. Even if you’re home, don’t leave win­dows un­locked in rooms you or your fam­ily are not oc­cupy­ing

• Look for vul­ner­able spots and take some steps. Here’s one you might not have con­sidered: Burg­lars will push in win­dow air con­di­tion­ers to gain entry, es­pe­cially if that unit is out of sight from the street. That might not seem ob­vi­ous to most people, but it is a way in. O’Han­lon said he places a pole at the top of the bot­tom win­dow to the top of the sill to make it dif­fi­cult for burg­lars to get the win­dow up even if they do push in the air con­di­tion­er.  

• Get a heavy board to put in­side slid­ing doors so they can’t be pushed open.

“Most burg­lars are junkies,” O’Han­lon said. They want to get in and out with whatever they think is valu­able and eas­ily hid­den, and they want to turn that stuff in­to money so they can score their drugs.

The more des­per­ate they are, the more de­term­ined they are to get in your house. They will break down locked doors and they will smash through win­dows.

Still, you shouldn’t make it easy for them even if they do get in­side. If you have a safe, use it. If you have a safety de­pos­it box, use it, es­pe­cially if you are go­ing to be away for any length of time.

If you have neither, then be a little cre­at­ive. Don’t leave your valu­ables where burg­lars will be apt to look for them. Find oth­er places for your cash and jew­elry oth­er than your bed­room bur­eau. Store your medi­cines some­where be­sides your medi­cine cab­in­et.

Burg­lars like small but valu­able things they can put in their pock­ets. Rings, brace­lets, neck­laces, cash, coins, small elec­tron­ics are as easy to keep out of sight as they are to fence.

There are steps to take, O’Han­lon said, if you are a burg­lary vic­tim.

If you come home to find a door open, don’t go in, he said. If you have a cell phone, call 911 from out­side.

Don’t clean up. Don’t touch any­thing, the of­ficer said. You might mess up the evid­ence the po­lice need to catch the burg­lar. Just call po­lice.

In fact, O’Han­lon said, call the cops if you see any­one or any­thing sus­pi­cious in your neigh­bor­hood. A pickup you’ve nev­er seen in a neigh­bor’s drive­way or strangers walk­ing around, knock­ing on doors in the middle of the day? Re­port things like that, O’Han­lon said.

“You’re not both­er­ing us,” he said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus