Home Invasions – Some Safety Tips

There has been a worrying 4 reported home invasion incidents in the last four days within San Francisco.  The incidents have occurred in Visitacion Valley, Ocean View, Diamond Heights and Lower Haight, and according to SFPD, they all seem to be perpetrated by different individuals.  The Visitacion Valley incident took place at 9pm, while the other three took place in the early morning hours at 5:30am on Lower Haight, 7:30am on Diamond Heights and 8:15am on Ocean View.

2015 Home Invasions - SFGATE

Fortunately no-one has been seriously injured in these incidents, but they are non the less extremely traumatic crimes to experience. Equally fortunately these incidents are typically rare and make up a tiny percentage of the burglary and robbery cases in the city each year, with an article in SFGATE indicating there were 69 such incidents in 2014 and 78 the previous year.

It may be impossible to completely eradicate home invasion crimes entirely, as a determined criminal or group will figure out a way around any defenses, but some simple and sensible precautions and changes may help to make your home safer while alleviating some concerns.  These tips are some suggestions worth considering. You can also contact San Francisco Safety Awareness For Everyone (www.sfsafe.org) who can help you with a home safety inspection.

  • DOORS – ensure your front and rear doors are solidly built, securely framed and have substantial locks including deadbolts, safety chains and safety “peep” holes.  Don’t forget any doors that lead into a connected garage, or from the garage into your home. These should be treated as front doors to your home, as they are often targets for burglars.
  • WINDOWS – ensure your windows are solidly built and framed. Install window limiters that allow fresh air in, but limit the window opening to only a few inches. Consider hanging light translucent curtains if you are on the ground floor, to allow light in, but prevent people from looking into you home.
  • EXTERIOR – ensure the exterior approaches to your home from all angles offer no easy hiding places for criminals.  Cut back plants, bushes and trees to provide open sight lines, for you and your neighbors.
  • LIGHTS – install motion activated exterior lighting to illuminate the area around your home.
  • ALARM SYSTEMS – consider installing a quality alarm system in your home and garage.
  • NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH – start or join your block neighborhood watch, and pay particular attention to those neighbors who may be at increased risk, such as the elderly, disabled etc.  Record and report anything suspicious.  Set up a system where an elderly or disabled neighbor can call upon another neighbor if a stranger knocks on their door or rings their doorbell and have the caller wait unit the neighbor arrives before answering the door.
  • CHECK IDENTIFICATION – always ask for identification from any city official or employee of a business who call on your home unannounced.  Ask them to wait outside your home while you verify their identity and close and lock your door while you do so. Find the phone number for the city agency or business from on-line or phone book resources – don’t rely on telephone numbers printed on the ID or business card as it may be false.  If you have any doubts about the caller, call 911 immediately and report your suspicions. 
  • SECURITY CAMERAS – there are a host of inexpensive but viable security camera options available on the market today.  They don’t always stop a crime in progress, but they may deter a criminal from choosing you or your property as a target based on the possibility of being caught on camera. Surveillance footage leads to a number of arrests and convictions every year.

If you have any additional thoughts or suggestions that you think we should add to the above list, please let us know at INFO@CastroPatrol.org and we’ll update this list as needed.

 

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