August report, Part 1 Burglary Prevention

2-PAC held its second Zoom meeting at 6PM on August 10, 31 attenders.
Nicholas Juarez, Crime Prevention Specialist for the 2nd Precinct, south of Broadway, presented  “Burglary Prevention” guidelines.  

Burglary is  breaking into another person’s home, garage, or business to commit a crime.   A burglary may be Forced, when someone breaks a door or window to get in.   A burglary may be Unforced, when the criminal enters through an unlocked door or window.

Nick made the point that most burglaries in NE Mpls are Forced.   Most burglaries in SE Mpls are Unforced.   Please don’t make it easy for someone to harm you.  

DOOR SECURITY – Generally when someone forces a door open, it is not the lock that breaks, but the door jamb, which is made of soft wood.   There is usually a gap between the door jamb and the stud opening, so the trick to security  is to install a high security strike plate 7″ to 10″ tall, with at least four screw holes. Use screws long enough to go through the gap and penetrate the building stud behind the door jamb several inches.   The screws should be at least 3″ long, longer is better.

Doors that have glass less than 40″ [an arm’s length]  from the lock need special attention.   Consider: 

  • Double or triple pane glass
  • Shatter resistant window film  (The glass will craze but not fall out.)
  • Double cylinder locks (These need keys to lock and unlock from both sides. These are a hazard for quick fire evacuation)
  • Consider replacing glass with plexiglass, which is stronger.

Window Security –  During warm weather, unlocked windows are often breached by cutting a screen or pushing in an air conditioner or fan.    If you are using an A.C., bolt it to the woodwork for security.

The easiest way to secure a double hung window is to “pin” it, with a removable wooden peg that goes through both window sash frames. The window can’t be opened unless the peg is removed.

A  second method is to install a stop that only permits the window to be opened 6″ or less.   You can buy two-part brass window sash attachments at any hardware store for $2.75 for a 2-pac.    Another method is to attach a track filler strip to the frame above the lower sash, 6″ shorter than the upper sash.  The stop can be painted to match your woodwork.   Glue velcro strips to one side of the filler strip and to the inside of the window frame.

There are also many selections if you have sliding side by side windows or doors, all available at Menard’s, Home Depot, Ace, or any other well stocked hardware store.

Windows are another place to consider security window film.  This is available in various widths, mils [thickness] and with added features.  [EQ: Check for pricing and locations with a quick Google search.   I found one brand selling for about $1.25 a square foot but prices vary with vendors and size of purchase.]

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design 
A first step in burglary prevention is to make your house less inviting to a burglar.   You can change your yard to slow down someone approaching your house,  and to make sure they can’t hide from you or from passers-by.
Fencing — There are many kinds and styles of fencing depending on your needs.   The one fence that makes trouble is the solid, opaque fence.  That privacy fence gives you privacy in your yard, but it also hides a burglar from being seen by your neighbors or possibly by you.
Landscaping:   Shrubs should be 18-24″ away from all entry points.  Hedges should be trimmed 6″ below windows and trimmed to 3′ tall or shorter.   Tree canopies should be trimmed to 7′ from the ground.  Thorny plants are good deterrents in dark corners, in front of windows, and especially in window wells or  near egress windows.  [EQ. A number of my older relatives often planted prairie roses in front of vulnerable windows.   Gooseberries showed up often too. Both offered site-security, with a bonus of lovely roses or jelly.]
Lighting:   Lighting is recommended on all doors and entryways, windows, driveways, sidewalks and parking areas.   Consider using dusk to dawn sensors for these lights.  Be sure your house numbers are lit, and make sure the fixtures are not easily accessible so a burglar can’t just unscrew the bulb.
Garages:   Half of all burglarized garages were left unlocked.  If you are in a different part of the yard OR doing a noisy chore, lock the door.   If you have a service door, secure it as well as you would secure the front door of your house.  Use a solid deadbolt secured with 3+” screws described above.   If you don’t use the service door regularly, a padlock will keep people out.  Less high tech is to just move a heavy item in front of the door. Overhead doors can be secured with automatic garage door opener or a padlock.  Never leave your garage door opener in your car and be sure you know how to change the code on your remote if it gets lost or stolen. 

Do a perimeter check:   Walk around your house and look for dark areas or items behind which someone could hide.   Those are issues you can probably fix on your own. 

Nick responded to a question about cameras. He suggested that ring cameras take a good picture, high resolution.   Some can even photograph in color at night.   You do have to make sure that your lighting will support the system and not mess up the image. 

 He pointed out that you can now set up your own system with gear from Costco or Best Buy or you can buy into a service that will set up their gear and do some or most of the response for you.   A Costco system can be set to alert your phone or computer so if you see that a cat is acting up or one of your kids forgot to enter the code, you’ll know what is going on.   In contrast, if a security service gets an alert, they’ll first try to contact you, and if you’re out of touch, they immediately contact the police.

Someone asked about pages that look like MPD crime reports, but they are not actually MPD.   Those are reports taken directly from police scanners.   They are Facebook pages.  The problem with them is that the FB posters have no way to follow through and discover what the officers found when they got there.  All they can report is that someone made a call.  Maybe the officers found nothing.

MPD  has an online police report [EQ See below]  There is also raidsonline.com [Regional Analysis and Information Sharing, launched in 2014, a good explanation here:  https://www.southwestjournal.com/news/2014/02/mpd-unveils-new-online-crime-mapping-tool/ ]  MPD Crime Maps records filed police reports; you can look up and read the report and actually find out what the officers found. 

Personal Safety   There are a lot of Theft From Person incidents happening, particularly in Marcy Holmes.   The usual cautions are all necessary: be aware of your surroundings, use a cross body bag or use both straps of your backpack, make eye contact with anyone who approaches you and look for identifying features, hide your phone.    Personal protective devices:  Dick’s Sporting Goods has a siren alarm (130-140 decibel).   Pepper sprays are fine but you must have them in your hand and ready to use, not at the bottom of your backpack; note that some shoot a stream and some a cloud, which act differently.  Some come with a bottle of saline solution so you can practice to see how the spray works, AND how the spray is affected by wind.  As Nick said, we live in Minnesota; there WILL be wind.  It’s hard to plan in the moment, but you don’t want that spray blowing straight back into your face.
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EQ: Sign up for MPD Online Police Report info: 

MPD issues a Crime Alert when we notice a crime pattern. The crime pattern may be specific to geographic area, a time period, or specific method of crime.  To enroll in the MPD Crime Alert system, http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/crimealert/police_crimealert_signup

To view crime maps around your area and to sign up for email crime alerts – http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/statistics/index.htm.  You may also access information on police stops, crime data, arrest data, use of force, and other information. 

To contact the 2nd Precinct’s Crime Prevention Specialists,

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