Sheriff’s deputies in North County want to help San Diegans burglar-proof their homes after an uptick in residential break-ins.
Gary Rivers, a crime prevention specialist with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department’s (SDSO) North Coastal Division, said burglars have recently been targeting homes in North County’s coastal areas, particularly in Rancho Santa Fe.
"If you get a homeowner that has lost substantial amounts of cash and jewelry, these criminals will go out and they’ll tell their friends and then it’ll continue to happen within that particular neighborhood," Rivers said.
Burglaries often occur between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., when homeowners are at work, Rivers said.
The substation is offering burglary prevention assessments to community members who want to ensure their property is protected.
A crime prevention officer will come to the resident’s home or business and evaluate the property, "through the eyes of a burglar."
Rivers said residents who get the assessment are typically surprised at how easy it is for a criminal to get inside their home.
Here are some tips from SDSO:
Lighting is the biggest deterrent for burglars, Rivers said.
Prevent Peeping in. SDSO recommends keeping your curtains and blinds closed.
"If they look inside, they see a nice MacBook or they see a couple hundred dollars on a counter, [they] don’t care if they’re going to be seen or how hard it is, they’re still going to try to get in there to get that."
Even if a door is locked, a burglar can get in, Rivers said. A door can be knocked down if a screw is not thick enough. Long screws and big plates on a door lock can help prevent break-ins.
If someone knocks on the door, acknowledge that someone is home.
"There has been a couple of cases – what we call burglary hot prowls – where someone has knocked on the door but someone’s been home, they didn’t answer, they go around toward the back and they come downstairs and low and behold, you’ve got the confrontation there."
Rivers said a resident doesn’t have to answer but make your presence known by peeking through a window or talking through the door.
If you must have the sliding glass door open, use a wooden block at the base to minimize the amount the door will open to four-inches or less.
On the side of the home, cut shrubbery on either side of the property so homeowners have a clear view of the roadway. If you have side gates, ensure they are locked. Rivers said it may not prevent a burglar from getting in, but it is a good deterrent.
"It gives someone something else to think about if they’re trying to target this home," Rivers said.
SDSO recommends considering video surveillance cameras outside the home.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Unit can provide additional tips with a burglary prevention assessment. For more information, click here.