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Securing a Home’s Garage from Burglary

July 17, 2014
Garage security
Garages are an easy target for burglars. Many times they are left wide open, and the thief can simply walk in and walk out quickly and undetected. Even when a garage door is closed and secured, a thief has options. An unlocked car in the driveway can provide easy access to a remote, and tripping the safety release mechanism often requires nothing more than a coat hanger.

How Thieves Break In

Most garage thefts do not involve a break-in. The garage is already open, the door is unsecured or the burglar gets access to the remote. In cases where a break-in does occur, it usually happens by exploiting the emergency latch. Brute force break-ins happen as well, and it may surprise you how easy that is. After all, most garage doors are not built solid or secured with deadbolts or similar hardware.

Prepping the Primary Door

Automated garage doors are more secure, not less. If your roll-up is not yet automated, upgrade it as soon as possible, but disable the emergency system or opt for one that is not easily exploited. It is also a great idea to invest in a reinforcement kit, which makes the garage door mounting much more solid and thus much harder to open with brute force. Take care with the remote. Put it on your keychain perhaps, and never leave it in the vehicle unattended.

Prepping All Other Access Points

Do not overlook the side garage door or garage windows because burglars can easily use these access points as well. Treat these doors and windows just as you would all of your home’s first story doors and windows. Doors should have deadbolts and both doors and windows should have high-security locks. It is also a great idea to integrate the garage fully into your home security alarm system.

Home Security Integration

There should be access alarms on the windows and all doors, including the door that provides access to the home from the garage. The garage should also have motion sensors and, ideally, a security camera. Having a wireless security system will make including the garage a lot easier. In the event of a garage burglary, having a security camera will provide invaluable evidence to police and make it much easier to file insurance claims.

Deterring Would-Be Thieves

There should be motion sensors at the home’s exterior as well, and those sensors should trigger big bright lights. It’s also a great idea to have signage near the garage that announces it is protected by a monitored security system. Keep in mind that garage thefts are generally just crimes of opportunities, and these simple deterrents are often all that are needed to make that opportunity much less appealing.

Making Good Habits

The residents of the home play a big part in keeping a garage secure and an unappealing target. If they have good security habits, the garage is an unlikely target, but if they have bad ones, such as leaving the garage open and valuables in plain view, they can compromise all of your best efforts.

Police Have Now Entered the Age of Social Networking

July 1, 2014
social networking and police
Organizations can no longer ignore social media, and police departments are no exception. In fact, there have been a number of high-profile cases in the news recently where police have used social networking as a tool to a catch a criminal or get its community involved.

Building Trust and Goodwill

Police departments often have social programs in place that help them connect with the community. These efforts help to build goodwill and trust, and help to avoid the disconnect that can sometimes occur between law enforcement and the people it is charged with protecting. Today, police have better access to their communities than ever through tools like Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps the neatest aspect of the police using social media is that they can actually reach people who would not otherwise pay attention by disseminating information that goes viral.

Social Media Departments

A recent survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that more than 96 percent of all police departments surveyed were using social media in some manner. Additionally, 80 percent of those departments indicated that those efforts helped solve and prevent crimes, and more than 73 percent indicated that they already had or had plans in place for an internal department that did nothing but specialize in social media and the various resources within that domain.

Feedback

Traditionally, it has been very difficult for police departments to receive worthwhile feedback from their constituents. Communicating with the police can be intimidating and inconvenient, and a lone voice offering a suggestion or criticism is rarely heard. Today, however, police use blogs, Twitter and even forums in Ask Me Anything formats to answer questions and receive criticism. When a criticism or suggestion has an entire community behind it, then it becomes very difficult to ignore.

Solving Crimes

Although it has not reached the Supreme Court yet, there is legal precedent in the United States to suggest that a person no longer has a right to privacy for any information shared via a social channel online. This extends to information shared with the belief that the channel was private, such as posting a photo on a Facebook page that is only accessible by family and friends. There is a lot of evidence that can be used to solve crimes floating around on services like Facebook, and if police can get just one person who has access to provide them with that information, then they have a legal right to it.

Getting Creative

Police can also be proactive about acquiring that kind of information, and so-called stings can extend to the online arena. For instance, it is legal for police to create a false online persona, befriend an alleged criminal and then use that friendship to acquire the evidence needed to prosecute. Some departments have also used social networking as a deterrent for crimes. Traditionally, police departments would publish the names of people who solicited prostitutes in the newspaper. Since that is no longer effective, some departments have turned to publishing those names and photos via Twitter.