Leaving on summer vacation? Tips to keep burglars away from your home

Home burglars target up to dozens of victims a month in Lawrence, statistics from local law enforcement show.

With many residents taking summer vacations this time of year, the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office suggests some crime prevention steps to take before leaving the house unattended for an extended period of time.

“Unfortunately, that long awaited trip may also make your home an attractive target to a criminal,” DA Charles Branson said in a recent news release.

In 2017, from about a dozen to almost three dozen home burglaries or attempted burglaries per month were reported to Lawrence police, according to numbers provided by the department.

Numbers varied from month to month, but the highest number of home burglary reports in 2017 was in March, with 34. August saw the second highest, with 26.

The DA’s recommendations for deterring burglars while you’re on vacation includes one key suggestion that has nothing to do with the property itself — restrain yourself on social media.

“Do not advertise vacation plans ahead of time on social media platforms,” Branson said. “Post vacation pictures after the fact.”

At the house, so it’s not obvious by looking that no one is home, Branson suggests getting light timers to turn lights — and even a radio — on and off while you are gone. Also, he said, if you don’t stop delivery of your mail and newspaper, have a close friend or family member pick up your mail and papers so they don’t pile up outside.

In addition to locking your home’s doors and windows — including deadbolts on exterior doors — consider putting padlocks on your garage door tracks, Branson said. The locks will block the rollers so the door can’t be forced up.

Another thing to consider if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time is contacting local law enforcement to request a property check, Branson said.

People who live in the city limits can call the Lawrence Police Department at 832-7509 or make a request online at lawrenceks.org/police by clicking on the FAQS menu then clicking property checks. Sgt. Amy Rhoads said officers can check residences for any unusual or suspicious activity, and that the department asks residents to provide their address, contact information and reason for the check.

County residents can call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 841-0007 to request a property check.

Home security tips

A few more home safety tips for when you’re out of town or not:

• Ensure areas around exterior doors are well-lit, with motion-activated lights. Easy-mount solar-powered motion lights are available.

• Trim back shrubs near doors and windows so sightlines aren’t blocked. Don’t give criminals a place to hide.

• Keep window blinds and drapes closed. Criminals can easily size up homes by looking in uncovered windows.

• If open windows are needed for ventilation, install a “stop” in the frame that prevents the window from being opened more than 4 inches. One method is drilling a hole through the upper frame and putting a removable screw in the hole.

• Ensure door hinges face the inside of the home. If hinges are on the outside, consider installing nonremovable pins.

• Don’t leave your garage door opener in your car. If someone steals the opener, they can then get in your house.

• Consider locking the door from the garage to the house.

• Keep ladders and tools in a secure area, and keep storage sheds locked.

Source: Douglas County DA’s Office

Home burglaries in Lawrence

Burglaries and attempted residential burglaries reported to the Lawrence Police Department in 2017:

January — 15

February — 23

March — 34

April — 16

May — 20

June — 18

July — 19

August — 26

September — 18

October — 23

November — 23

December — 13

Source: Lawrence Police Department


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