Empty homes during holidays a target for robberies

Published 3:26 am Friday, December 22, 2006

By Staff
NILES – Create the appearance that someone is always home.
That's advice from the Niles Police Department on how to decrease the chances of suffering a home break-in while gone for the holidays. Another tip, said officer Kevin Kosten, is let the department know you will be gone.
"If they're going to be gone, just a week or even more, they can call us and get put on our vacation home checklist," Kosten said.
Those residents on the vacation home checklist will receive a periodic drive-by courtesy of patrolling officers, Kosten said. Anyone living in the Niles City Limits and leaving for the holidays can be placed on the vacation home checklist by calling the department at (269) 683-1313.
Home protection begins with the owner, and, according to a home security guide from Kosten, the key factor in preventing most crimes is taking away the opportunity for the criminal. There are several indicators that show a homeowner is gone or has been gone for an extended period of time and the following tips can help hide the indicators.
Use a timer that automatically turns on an inside room light at dusk;
Leave a radio on with the volume turned low;
Always lock the garage doors;
Secure all obvious, and not so obvious, points of entry to your home. Pretend you are the burglar: stand outside your home and plan how you would get in, then secure locks on all doors and windows;
Never leave a note on the door explaining why you are not at home, or when you expect to return;
Avoid displaying valuable items near windows with open blinds or curtains;
Keep extra keys out of sight and in a safe place. Never hide a key outside – most hiding places are obvious to burglars. You may want to give a key to a neighbor and ask them to periodically check your home;
Keep your mailbox and newspaper box empty. Either have a neighbor retrieve these items, or have the post office hold all your mail until your return;
Have someone shovel the driveway while on extended leave;
Store all your valuables;
Leave a car in the driveway or ask neighbors to park in it;
Ask neighbors to place trash in your trash cans;
Consider asking friends or relatives to live in your home while you are away.