Burglaries can occur anywhere, and although our neighborhood is not immune, we remain one of the city's safest neighborhoods. Below are some suggestions from Tom Wibert, former Chief of Police, ELPD.
1) Lock your door. This is the most important thing. Even though our neighborhood is safe.... it isn't that safe. If you are one of those people who leave your house with the door unlocked because you have always done it this way and nothing has happened, it is time to wise up. Most of our EL home invasions occur because a house is left unlocked. Even when you are home, it is always a good practice to lock your door. This includes the door between your house and your attached garage. If you lock your door at night, you will sleep better.
2) When you are not at home, make it seem like you are there. If you are going on vacation, make arrangements with your neighbor to watch your house. Don't let your newspapers pile up on the porch. Don't let your mail hang out of the mailbox. Have somebody roll your dumpster to the curb on Tuesday morning and roll it back on Tuesday evening. Put your television and a lamp on a timer so that they are on in the evening, but not all night. Don't leave the same light on for an entire week- that is a dead giveaway that nobody is home. Have your neighbor take a daily walk around the house and do a security check. Shake the doors, check the windows. In the winter, have a neighbor shovel the drive and make some tracks to your door so that it looks like you are home. Leave your contact information with the neighbor so that you can be called if a problem arises.
3) Every window should have a lock. Sliding glass doors and sliding windows should have a dowel in the track to prevent them from opening if the lock is compromised. Every door should have a dead bolt lock with a reinforced strike plate. We have had burglaries where the back door has been kicked in. The better your lock, the more difficult this becomes.
4) Be conscious of your trash. If you just bought a big screen TV, don't put the box in a place where it is visible from the street. You might as well put a sign in your yard that says "Big New Expensive TV available! Come get it !!! " Take the box to the recycling center or cut it into pieces and put it in your dumpster. Same for computers, DVD players etc.
5) Be suspicious of door to door solicitors. Charity and political solicitors do not need a license. For-profit solicitors do need to be licensed through the city clerk and this process requires a criminal background check. Under no circumstances should you invite a stranger into your house. If you have to get your checkbook, leave them waiting on the porch. If a solicitor seems suspicious, call the police and they will come to the neighborhood and check for a license.
6) Be a good neighbor. We all tend to go into a state of denial when we see or hear something suspicious. If you see a stranger going behind your neighbor's house, check a little further. Call your neighbor to see if they are expecting somebody to be back there. Call the police and have them check. If you hear a suspicious noise, like glass breaking in the middle of the night- don't just lay there in bed and listen for it to happen again. Call the police and let them know so that they can check it out. If you see somebody peeking in your neighbor's window- call the police. If you know that your neighbor is not moving and somebody is loading their things into a truck parked in their driveway, call the police. It sounds strange to have to say these things, but you would be amazed at how many people see suspicious things but don't report them until after a crime has occurred. As a general rule if you see something that causes you to think something is wrong, call the police and have it checked out. It is difficult to catch a criminal after they have left the scene. The police would much rather catch the criminal while they are committing the crime! You can help by calling 911 for an emergency and 351-4220 for non-emergencies.