Easy Target: Protect Yourself From Burglary - WSPA.com

Easy Target: Protect Yourself From Burglary

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Burglary is a crime problem that doesn't go away. Burglary is a crime problem that doesn't go away.
SPARTANBURG, S.C - Burglary is a crime problem that doesn't go away.

7 On Your Side got burglary statistics from local sheriff's offices for years 2008 through 2013.

Add up the numbers, and during that six-year period, Spartanburg County had 10,589 burglaries.  Anderson County had 11,104.  Greenville County had 18,290 burglaries.

"(Burglars want) easy money, fast cash, with little to no work to it whatsoever," says Captain Garland Major, a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and head of the investigative division of the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.  "(Burglary) has got something to do with drugs, and instead of going out and working or taking a lot of time, (burglars) want to break into a house quickly, and they want to leave quickly."

Burglary preparedness quiz"Anyone can be a target.  There's no one immune."

What can you do to protect your home and possessions?

Major says make it harder for someone to break in.

Williamston homeowner Robert Vaughn asked 7 On Your Side to help him arrange an inspection of his home.  It has considerable protection already against burglars, but Vaughn is concerned he may still be vulnerable.  If there's a weak link in his security, he wants it found and fixed.

"There's been a lot of crime in Williamston," says Vaughn.  "Every day, I pick up the paper, and I hear of crime."

"I want to keep my stuff mine."

7 On Your Side put Vaughn in touch with Community Services Director Lloyd Robison of the Anderson County Sheriff's Office.  Robison came to Vaughn's home to do a security inspection.

Robison says the back door is often the first place a burglar looks.

"You can't see your neighbor on this side, and this guy over here, as far away as he is and with the trees, they're never gonna spot anyone on this back porch.  So this would be my focus (referring to back door).  I'm gonna get in here. What you can do, reinforcing the door, locking the door, motion sensor on the porch, someone comes up here, it lights them up."

"Eighty-percent of your burglaries, they're gonna kick (the back door), try to get in through this door."

How do you keep a burglar from crashing through your door?

Robison points out, in many homes, the door knob strike plate is secured with only 3/4 inch screws.  He recommends you replace them with screws three inches long.

Robison says the "peephole" in your door should be upgraded to wide-angle.  "The new ones are about an inch-and-a-half to two inches in diameter.  From across the room, as you walk to the door, you can see left to right, up and down."

More lighting around Vaughn's heat pump would give it more protection from thieves, points out Robison.

Vaughn's home had no tall bushes.  Robison says if yours does, cut the bushes back so crooks can't hide.  "I recommend you trim back the shrubbery to where you can see from the road, you can actually see the lower part of the window, because that's where (burglars) are gonna go in.  Also trim it back enough that it's not an ambush point for a person pulling into a driveway."

Next, Robison inspects the utility sheds.  "You have them all locked.  That's really good."  Around the buildings, there is also security lighting.

Robison noted having specialty screws on outdoor hinges takes away an opportunity for burglars.  "They're gonna have to have a specialty tool to take these hinges off.  If it's just a Phillips head screw, they can go in here with a screw gun, back off 5 screws, and they can just go through."

After an hour, the inspection is complete.  Robison says the security at Vaughn's home is good.

Vaughn says he'll make the improvements Robison recommended.  "I know I have a few weak links.  I'm gonna work on resolving those weak links where it'll be more secure."

To have your home checked, call your sheriff's office or police.  If you want to check it yourself, ask for a home inspection checklist.  Police can also give you a form to list your valuables so it'll be easier to reclaim them if they're stolen and recovered.

Crime prevention officers will also show you how to start a neighborhood watch group.  Garland Major says teaming up with your neighbors is one of the best ways to prevent burglaries.  "You can be a crime-fighting tool for your neighbor.  Your neighbor can be one for you.  You've just got to get together, talk, pay attention, look out for each other."

Should you own a gun?  Major says that's a personal decision.  "If you are comfortable, by all means get (a gun) and use it.  Train with it.  Don't just get it and say, okay, I've got one.  If you buy one, be trained on how to use it."
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