Atlantic Mutual: Burglaries Can Ruin a Summer Vacation

June 21, 2005

The traditional summer vacation months of July and August are also the peak months for burglaries, according to FBI statistics. It’s no coincidence.

Most residential burglaries occur during the daytime when people are at work or school. Going away on vacation makes their homes even more attractive as targets.

To minimize the chance of burglary, Atlantic Mutual is offering free tips
to homeowners in the summer issue of its safety newsletter, SafetyWise, which can be downloaded from the company Web site,

The newsletter also contains safety ideas related to summer driving and summer storms.

Bill Bernecker, VP of Claims at Atlantic Mutual, noted, “Prevention starts with understanding how burglars select targets. They look for homes that are unoccupied and unprotected, easy to access through concealed entry points, and blessed with good escape routes. In many cases they only need 60 seconds to break into a home. But, if people make their homes unattractive as targets, burglars should pass them by.”

A sample of the burglary prevention tips follows:

* Doors and Locks: Make sure exterior doors are made of solid wood or metal and secured with a heavy-duty deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt and a heavy-duty knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism. Don’t forget garage and back doors, which burglars know are often the weakest entry points.

* Windows: Close the latches on all windows and, for extra security, place a secondary blocking device such as a wooden dowel or through-the-frame pin. Make sure the blocking device can be easily removed from bedroom windows in case of fire.

* Lighting: Create the illusion of occupancy with light-timers on interior
lights near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. Similarly, exterior lighting on the front of a property should be on a timer. Don’t leave them on all the time – unless you want burglars to think you’re out of town.

* Neighbors: Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers and oversee vendors such as lawn mowing services. Encourage him to park in your empty driveway once in a while and even give him a key to check inside your home to make sure all is well. Don’t leave a key hidden in flower pots, under doormats, or on ledges.

* Landscaping: Trim tree branches up to six feet off the ground and trim your shrubs down to three feet. This makes it easier for neighbors to monitor your yard and minimizes hiding places for burglars.

* Alarm Systems: Besides arming your alarm system before you leave, make sure you have alarm company signs near the front and rear doors and alarm company decals on ground floor windows to deter burglars.

Bernecker concluded, “Following these steps should significantly
reduce the chance that a home will be targeted for burglary, but no system is fool proof. That’s why it’s always good to keep an up-to-date inventory of your possessions to make filing an insurance claim easier.”

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