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October 31, 2012

Take a bite out of burglary

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

They happen most often during daylight, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

They show up on crime reports under “home invasions and B&E” (breaking and entering) as “resident returned home to find the back door pried open — jewelry/handgun/laptop/TV/coins were stolen and police have no suspects.”

They happen in all cities, in houses of all price ranges.

So what can you do to prevent someone from breaking into your home or into a car parked in your driveway?

Plenty, according to law enforcement officials and a local home security expert.

The easiest things are perhaps the most obvious.

“If you have an alarm, use it,” said Tom Delisle of All Pointes Security, based in Grosse Pointe Woods. He noted that people who do not use security systems are three times more likely to have their homes broken into.

Delisle said that most home break-ins are perpetrated by amateurs who typically are looking for something “easy,” like an open window, which they find in neighborhoods where residents feel safe, during times when people aren’t at home.

He said that in 80 percent of home invasions, entry was made through a front door, back door or first-floor window.

Delisle said multiple deterrents work best — a security system, dead bolts, lighting, cameras — if possible, along with simply locking things up.

“The more things you can do, the less likely you are to have a break-in,” Delisle said.

He explained that the new age security systems connected to the Internet are interactive in that homeowners may be notified of a break-in by email or text message and even see the actual video of the incident as it occurs.

“If an alarm is connected to the Internet, the homeowner can control the lighting and thermostat in the home from a remote location,” Delisle said. Also, cameras connected to the Internet allow the homeowner to check on things from a remote location.

Keep an eye out — remotely

Delisle said the security cameras positioned toward driveways also allow homeowners to see thefts from vehicles. In one case he knows of, the victims, who had items stolen from their locked vehicles repeatedly, saw the incident on tape and were able to identify the culprit, who lived in their neighborhood, for police.

He said more and more homeowners are having security cameras installed.

“Five years ago, I would get one call a year,” he said, noting that the majority of requests for security cameras came from commercial businesses.

“Within the last year, I get one or two requests each month for residential security cameras,” he said.

Delisle said that a price estimate for a basic alarm — that includes one motion detector, one keypad, a siren, two doors activated, a transformer and battery backup — is $395, plus $23 a month for phone-line monitoring. Estimates for interactive alarms that allow arming and disarming from a cellphone or PC increase in cost to just under $600, plus $35 a month for cellular-alarm monitoring.

The cost estimate for an advanced interactive alarm that includes a wireless video receiver, wireless outdoor/indoor camera arming and disarming from a cellphone or PC, and that allows access to video by cellphone or PC, is just under $1,000, plus a monthly charge of $47 for cellphone alarm monitoring, Delisle said.

“Look at your home with a critical eye,” Troy police Sgt. Andy Breidenich said. Also check with your local law enforcement agency to see if they offer security checks, and arrange one if they do, he said.

“Pay attention to sightlines,” Breidenich said. “While it’s nice to have trees for privacy, it could allow someone to break into your home unseen.”

He recommends motion lights for darker areas and to keep in close contact with neighbors.

“Dead bolts are good, but make sure the screw holding the hinge plate is at least 3 inches long,” he said. He noted that most builders tend to install three-quarter- or 1-inch screws for the locks, which is “not much security when someone is kicking against the doorframe.”

Breidenich said a common point of entry for home invasions is the door leading into the home from inside an attached garage, which is often the door least secured. A sliding glass door is another common point of entry, he added.

“Securing that (doorwall) may be as simple as a broom handle or dowel rod in the sliding trap,” he said.

Homeowners should also consider securing valuables in a safe, and securing the safe to a cement floor, Breidenich said. “Also, newer polycarbonate or Plexiglas windows or window film, (available at home improvement stores), placed over the glass makes the windows harder to break,” he said.

Troy police offer these additional tips for averting break-ins and thefts from vehicles: 

• Do not leave remote garage door openers in cars not parked inside the garage.

• Make sure every resident of the home knows the security code and how to activate and deactivate the alarm system.

• Do not leave anything of value in plain view inside vehicles, and lock the doors.

To reach All Pointes Security, call (313) 884-3070 or visit www.allpointessecurity.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.