Unfortunately, you will not be able to tell if a person is or isn't a burglar. Your only defense is to create an environment in which burglaries are less likely to occur. This can be accomplished by methods of physical security, the outside appearance of your residence and by neighborhood and police cooperation.
Most burglars are lazy. They also fear being detected and will avoid making any more noise than is absolutely necessary. The simple and relatively inexpensive attachment of effective locks on your doors and windows should be enough to discourage the average burglar from attempting to victimize your residence.
Listed below are proven methods which should discourage most burglars from turning your possessions into their profits.
Deadbolt Locks A "Thumb Turn Deadlock" can be used on all doors where windows are not in or near the door. Be sure that the bolt has at least a one inch throw and that the strike plate is attached securely through the door frame into the home structure. A "Double Cylinder Deadlock" can be used on all doors where a window or other glass is within forty inches (40") of the lock. This lock must be operated with a key from either side. Again, there should be a one inch throw for the bolt and the strike plate should be securely attached into the home structure. When using this type of lock, special care must be taken to allow for emergency exit. It is recommended that when you are inside the residence, that the key be left in the lock.
Sliding Glass Doors The most inexpensive way to secure a sliding glass door is to insert 1 ½" pan head (large head) sheet metal screws into the top of the door frame at both ends and in the middle. Adjust the screws so that the door barely clears them when it is operated. In addition, insert a dowel stick into the door track. This will keep the door from being lifted and removed from the track and from being forced open. The most effective protection for this type of door is a sliding bolt with a locking device.
Porch or Patio Doors Treat them as any other outside door. Since they are usually more hidden from view from the street or by your neighbors, extra care should be used to secure them.
Double Hung Sash Windows An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the "pin" trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window. Then insert a nail or an eyebolt. The window can't be opened until you remove the nail. Make a second set of holes with windows partly open so you can have ventilation without inviting intruders. Eyebolts can provide strong resistance against jimmying. If you live in a high crime area, it might be best to use them.
Casement or Louvered Windows Removing the crank handle when the window is closed will offer some protection by preventing the entire window from being opened once one section is removed. When the handle is removed, keep it at least forty inches (40") away from the window so that it is out of the burglar's reach.
Sliding Windows These should be protected in the same way as a sliding glass door.
ADDITIONAL SECURITY SUGGESTIONS
Alarms There are many types of alarms available commercially. The most important factor in selecting an alarm is to determine what your individual needs are and then select an alarm which will best meet these needs. Only deal with a licensed bonded alarm company who installs Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved equipment. The City of Lake Forest regulates alarm installations in the city. It is recommended that you contact a crime prevention officer from the police department to assist you in determining your specific requirements. See our "Alarm Ordinance" page.
Lighting To prevent a burglar from concealing his activities, exterior lighting should be installed to illuminate all doors and windows. Numerous commercial ornamental and functional lights are available with sensors or timers which will turn the lights on and off.
Yards Thick foliage provides the burglar with a place to work undetected. Keep shrubs away from all doors and windows. Large trees near the house should be well pruned so that the tree will not provide access to the second floor of the residence. Keep all ladders locked inside the garage when not being used. Make your home look like someone is there even when you are gone by having the grass cut in summer months and the snow removed from the sidewalk and driveway in winter months.
Mailbox Do not display your name on the mailbox. A burglar will be able to locate your telephone number from it and call your house to see if you are home. According to city ordinance street address numbers are required, and must be visible from the street. This will allow emergency personnel to locate your house easily.
Garage Remember to always keep your garage door closed. This will prevent thefts from your garage. When it is left open, a burglar can tell by the number of cars who is and who is not at home. Once a burglar is inside the garage, he can work on your house or property undetected.
Solid Doors The insertion of an inexpensive door viewer will allow you to determine in advance whether the door should be opened for an otherwise unknown person ringing your bell.
Neighborhood Relations Your best security device is your neighbors. Arrangements should be made with your neighbors to report any person or condition which is not consistent with the neighborhood. Statistics show that in neighborhoods where residents are concerned with their mutual safety crime rates are lower. Advise your neighbors when you will be gone for an extended period of time. Ask them to report anything out of the ordinary to the police immediately. Your police department can check out suspicious vehicles or persons in minutes while it may take days/years to solve the burglary and by then the stolen items have probably been sold.
Key Security The best lock available will not prevent a burglary if the security of the key is neglected. An experienced burglar is aware of the common places a resident chooses to conveniently "hide" a house key. Instead of trying to hide a house key, trust a neighbor and give them the extra key for your house. Remember to remove other keys from your ring when cars are taken in for service and left in parking lots. Burglars have been known to duplicate house keys while the resident never realized what happened.
Leaving Town Stop all deliveries either in person or by telephone. Do not leave notes! Arrange for lawn care or shoveling of snow. Leave a house key with a trusted neighbor or relative and ask them to keep a special watch while you're away. Leave your house in a lived-in condition: Leave lights on timers, leave some shades or curtains open, and leave inexpensive items in view. Never publicize your vacation plans before leaving. Wait until you have returned. Call the police and arrange for a watch on your home. Burglary "in Progress" If you return home and find a door or window unexpectedly open or ajar, don't go in. Go to your nearest neighbor and contact the police. If you are inside your home and hear or see a prowler, don't investigate! Call the police! Upon notification, the police will have an officer who is trained and equipped at your house in minutes to handle this type of problem. If possible, watch from a distance and keep the police dispatcher informed of the person's actions.
Bicycles Thefts of bicycles is a growing problem, largely due to the increase in popularity of the bicycle as a means of transportation. The City requests that all bicycles be licensed. A minimal fee is required upon the initial purchase with a small charge for replacement or transfer. Once a license is purchased, the police department has on file all information necessary to identify the bicycle if it is either lost or stolen. In addition, the placement of the license itself on the bicycle serves as a deterrent to the bicycle thief who knows that if he is caught with the bicycle it can be identified as stolen. Remember to always secure your bicycle with an adequate lock when not in use. Many bicycles are stolen which have been left unlocked in the yard or in an open garage. If your bicycle is stolen, it should be reported to the police department as soon as possible.
COMMON BURGLARY TECHNIQUES
Often a burglar will drive or walk through a subdivision looking for a home that appears unoccupied. This can be determined by clues such as an open garage without cars, an accumulation of mail or newspapers, packages of dry cleaning left at the front door, or notes stuck on the door. The burglar will then approach the residence and ring the doorbell. If a resident answers, the burglar may pretend to be lost and ask for directions.
If you have someone approach your home in this manner, call the police immediately. Try to get a description of the person and any involved vehicle, along with a license plate number if possible to pass onto the police. The police will verify the story and offer any necessary assistance.
Burglars look for an easy target. Here's how to make your place less likely to be chosen.
Step 1 Install deadbolt locks on exterior doors.
Step 2 Keep shrubbery trimmed low so the burglar won't be hidden while jimmying a window.
Step 3 Keep the gate(s) locked if you have a privacy fence. That way, someone can't enter through the gate and then work unseen to break in a back door or window.
Step 4 Drill the sliding-glass door so you can run a pin from the door's edging into its frame to prevent entry. Otherwise, many of these door units can simply be removed from their openings - despite a broom handle inserted in the door track.
Step 5 Lock the door leading from your home to an attached garage even if you have an electronic garage-door opener. Burglars have devices that can steal your electronic code, so the locked door could create the only barrier if illegal entry is gained through the garage.
Step 6 Keep your windows closed and locked (pins from the window's casing into the frame are best) when you aren't home.
Step 7 Don't hide a key outside. Burglars know where to look.
Step 8 Put burglar bars on windows. Be sure they are the type with push-button openings from indoors so that you can escape easily in case of fire.
Step 9 Play a radio when you're out of the house.
Step 10 Do not leave a note on the door saying that you're gone and when you'll return. Don't put your name on the mailbox, welcome sign or anywhere else outside your house. Armed with your last name and address, crooks can look up your phone number, call the house to see whether anyone answers or listen to a too-revealing message on the machine. (Don't leave an message on your machine saying you'll be gone!)
Step 11 Install a monitored burglar alarm and post a sign that says so. Or at least have a sign indicating that you have an alarm even if you don't.
Step 12 Get a dog. Or put a "Beware of Dog" sign on gates leading to the back yard even if you don't have a dog.
Step 13 Light the exterior of your home at night. Sensor lighting turns on automatically when it detects a person (or animal) within its field.
Step 14 Put a sign on the door that says "Please don't ring bell. Day sleeper inside." This gives the impression that the home is occupied during the day, when most residential burglaries occur.
Step 15 Take special measures during vacation. Don't let mail and newspapers pile up, do put lights and a radio on irregular timers, and do ask a neighbor to put some trash in your cans and park a car out front occasionally.
Step 16 Tell all trusted neighbors what your typical work hours are and when you'll be traveling. Also let them know whether anyone has access to the house while you're out.