Ask the Chief Deputy: Protect your home when you are away

August 7, 2018

Recently I was asked to be a guest speaker at a community event in regards to readiness for disasters that involve evacuations. The meeting was well attended, and there were many questions involving what people can do to protect their property when they are not there.

Leaving your home for an extended period of time can cause anxiety, as you are leaving many of your personal items behind with no certainty your home will not be entered by a burglar.

The Sheriff’s Office will patrol these evacuated areas as much as possible, but there are no guarantees that burglars will stay away.

I had a homeowner talk to me about a very similar issue involving a home they use as a summer retreat in a more remote part of our county. This is a similar situation to evacuation as you will lock your place up and be back on a weekend or in a few weeks. We discussed some common-sense strategies:

Talk to your trusted year-around neighbors to keep an eye on your place.

n Make your home look lived in.

n Leave a light on, or on a timer.

n Leave a stereo on, a TV — something that makes noise

n Tell you neighbors what vehicle should be there.

n Cut your grass weekly if possible.

n Have newspapers and mail picked up or not delivered during your absence

Making your home appear live in will make a burglar think twice before breaking in.

At the community meeting, we also discussed making sure bushes don’t block the view of doors and windows. Large bushes are fire dangers and also help conceal burglars looking for an easy way to get into your house undetected.

A good rule of thumb to prevent being a burglary victim is to know burglars do not want to be seen, heard or caught. Following those few common-sense tips can make it much more difficult for a burglar to be comfortable entering your home.

We also discussed forming block-watch groups. That can be done in many different forms. I know of neighborhoods that have established email groups and will pass information to each other when something suspicious is going on in the neighborhood.

Some neighborhoods have private Facebook forums to exchange information. The main theme for all of these groups is to remain in constant communication with each other as you are truly law enforcement’s eyes and ears.

n Chad Clark is chief of patrol operations for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Email questions to Askpatrolchief@gmail.com

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