"Keeping an eye on your neighbor's home is a deterrent to burglaries," says Sergeant John Tarter of the Reno Police Department's Burglary Unit.
"Residents should report any suspicious activity immediately by calling 334-COPS, or 9-1-1 when a crime is in progress."
Tarter says the presence of suspicious vehicles in front of a neighbor's house, or in the driveway may indicate the presence of burglars and should be reported immediately.
"Residents should also be very aware of strangers in the neighborhood who may be sizing up a house for a burglary or may be lookouts for burglars inside a home".
Tarter says the existence of a Neighborhood Watch organization can also help reduce neighborhood crime, according to Tarter.
"The Reno Police Department will assist neighborhoods in organizing a local Neighborhood Watch program which is one of the most successful and least costly crime prevention programs available to Reno residents and can easily be organized," he says.
To be affective, a Neighborhood Watch program needs at least 50-75 percent participation of the neighborhood in attending two or more meetings a year to learn about crime trends, how to identify and report suspicious activity, and how to safeguard property.
More information on organizing a local Neighborhood Watch program is available by contacting the Reno Police Department's Crime Prevention voice message at (775) 334-2178. Residents calling the line should leave a telephone number and a return call will be made.
According to Tarter, there were 2,105 residential and commercial burglaries reported in Reno in 2006.
He says the 'door kick' is among the most prevalent residential burglary method used by criminals who generally have only two options for entering homes.
'Making sure door and window entry points are secure is critical to keeping criminals out of your residence,' says Tarter.
'When a home is difficult to enter quickly, many burglars will simply bypass it,' says Tarter.
'Many burglaries can be prevented through awareness and relatively simple home security devices,' Tarter says.
'The use of solid core or steel external doors rather than hollow-core doors us critical to preventing door-kick burglaries and keeping burglars out.'
Other precautions include:
- Make sure Christmas presents are no visible through windows.
- Record serial numbers for televisions, VCR/DVD players, stereo systems, computers, weapons and other items, and if possible photograph each item.
- Make sure door installations do not have gaps around the door frames that can provide leverage for removing a door from its frame.
- Avoid using decorative door installations that include glass sidelight panels that can be broken for easy access to interior locks.
- Install heavy-duty deadbolt locks with a one-inch throw bolt and heavy-duty four-screw strike plate with three-inch screws penetrating into a wooden door frame on all exterior doors as well as doors leading from your garage into your home.
- Doors leading into the home from the garage should be kept locked at all times.
- Secure sliding glass doors, that otherwise can be lifted off their tracks, with vertical security bolts, solid wood rods on the inside tracks, or similar locking devices.
- Secure pet doors. They may not allow adult burglars entry, but can be used by smaller children to enter your home and give burglars or others access.
- When pulling your vehicle out of the garage, be sure to close the garage door completely. If using an automatic garage door opener, wait until the garage door is closed and secured before leaving.
- Keep windows secure by making sure the latch is in good condition and properly adjusted, and use a secondary blocking device that is relatively inexpensive and can be found in hardware stores and often in the hardware sections of many grocery stores.
- Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks can work well for horizontal sliding windows that can also be equipped with screw-type devices that lock into window channels to keep windows from being opened. Anti-lift devices such as through-the door/window frame pins are useful for horizontal windows.
- For ventilation, only block windows open about 6-inches or less, and make sure someone can't reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device, or reach through and unlock an adjacent door.