15 Best Practices | Prevent Robberies | My Utilities

Last night we were robbed.

Remember that cute 90’s movie, “While You Were Sleeping”? For the last 20 years that movie brought soft smiles to my face thinking about Sandra Bullock running around falling in love. The nostalgia came to a screeching halt this morning when we we discovered we had been robbed. We weren’t on vacation, we weren’t out late at a play and we weren’t up at the crack of dawn catching a flight, we were in our room, in our bed, sleeping. The robber didn’t come through the first floor grabbing TV’s and dashing out the front window while we slept peacefully upstairs, no, the robber came through the front door of our 600 square foot backhouse, directly into our bedroom and robbed us, “while we were sleeping.”

My husband woke up around six a.m. and couldn’t find his jeans. We didn’t think much of it until he couldn’t find his keys, my keys, his backpack or my laptop that was no longer two inches from my pillow on my bedside table. At some point between 11:30pm and six a.m., a stranger came into our home, into our bedroom and basically brushed shoulders with us, while we were sleeping.

We quickly got dressed and followed a trail of our belongings strewn out along the driveway leading us towards the first sign of good news; our cars! We found all three cars rummaged through, but thankfully exactly where we left them. The keys were there too, hanging in the deadbolt of the front door of the main house. The burglar was literally going to break in with our very own keys!

We called the police and soon after they came to assess the scene. While the cop dusted our cars and belongings for fingerprints, three neighbors stopped in the road to commiserate over the reality that they too were robbed. Other neighbors lost jewelry, a handgun and expensive technology. That stolen handgun puts my husband at about a fifty percent chance that the person that broke into our home had a gun with them.

At the end of the day those nasty thieves basically only got away with semi replaceable items and tainted our perspective on common good of people. Thankfully the worst part about the entire occurrence is and will always be the “what if’s” that now preface every thought. What if we would have woken up? What if they would have hurt us? What if they had been watching our house for weeks? What if they are planning another break in? What if they would have taken more, even our lives?

As various cops and detectives trickled in and out of our house throughout the day their 50 years of combined experience gave us an even deeper peek into the scarier “what if’s” of past break ins. While shining light on how incredibly fortunate we were in our case they also enlightened us with insight into the positive “what if’s” that could have almost entirely prevented this terrifying event. What if we would have been better prepared for a breakin.

15 Best Practices From The Police Department

According to the Dallas Police Department, burglars are always looking for easy access or “invitations” to enter a home. Burglars will often patrol streets looking for open gates, signs of vacant homes or careless residents.

  1. Lock Your Doors: Locking the doors sounds simple but it is easy to forget. Since many burglars are looking for quick entries they will try for unlocked doors, propped windows or any easy entry that wouldn’t create noticeable noise. According to SafeWise 30% of break ins happen through unlocked doors and windows. Build locking your doors and windows into your muscle memory.

  2. Debunk the Easy Invitation: Make everything secure but also make everything appear secure too. Even having a security sign in your front yard can be helpful. It is annoying at times to double check your locks, keep your keys with you, close the gate and garage every entry and exit but it is 100% worth it.

  3. Every Hour Matters: Keep your home locked down at all times. According to SimpliSafe, 65% of burglaries occur during the day. The most common hours for break ins are 10am-3pm. There are countless records of burglars acting as mail carriers or salesmen scoping out a home prior to invasion. Security system yard signs and window decals can be great deterrents for burglars. It is also always important to request a visual of the personnel's identification. The home security company, Vivint, even suggests you call in to the company to verify employees identification.

  4. Automatic Lights: There are many light fixtures you can buy through amazon or at home depot that put your lights on as timers. This Intermatic Amp is a great option from amazon that allows you to program three on/off settings throughout the day. There are several security systems now that have home automation features that allow you to program your lights from your phone too. You can check with a My Utilities Advisor to see which system would best match your needs by calling in, 888-554-4609 or visiting myutilities.com.

  5. Motion Lights: It is important to bring awareness to your presence as well as the burglar’s presence as much as possible. Motion sensor lights are perfect for this. If you have a motion sensor light set up by your home and a burglar creeps by and the light turns on they won’t know if it is a sensor or someone inside turning on the lights but regardless now they are easy to see. This motion sensor light from Amazon is wireless and provides 400 square feet of coverage. These lights can be easily installed and provide excellent resistance to heat, impacts, low temperatures and chemicals.

  6. Security Cameras: When you imagine detectives coming to your home to dust for fingerprints you think they will have ample opportunity to catch the crooks but as we found out, circumstances have to be almost perfect for a fingerprint to actually come out useful. Some crooks will wear gloves, some masks, but if you can catch even the number of people on camera, their height, weight or if you’re lucky their face, you can contribute great evidence to the police. This news report from earlier this year shows how helpful security cameras can be. Their doorbell camera caught a perfect image of the thief.

  7. Security Systems: 5 houses down from us our neighbor's home was broken into the same night of our break in. The burglars tripped their alarm upon entry and not only did the alarm awaken their neighbors, it scared the burglars off, notified the police, and caught images of burglars in action. SafeWise reported that 28% of burglaries occur while people are home. Make sure you arm your security system even when you are home.

  8. Remove Packages From the Front Door: Any sign of a vacant home is another “invitation” for burglars to plan an entry. If packages, mail or even trash cans are left out intruders take note and see it as a sign that no one is house sitting, monitoring the home, or regularly coming in and out. Be cautious to always keep your house in a state that looks monitored. Remember that scene from Home Alone where Kevin dances around the christmas tree with a cutout of Michael Jordan and a whole “family” of manikins. You probably don’t need to go to that extreme every night but applying that same idea to your home every night is an excellent idea.

  9. Window/Glass Break Sensors: Many security providers offer window sensors along with their monitoring systems. Glass sensors are placed in rooms covering 360 degree horizontal sensing angle with somewhere from 25-75 foot radius detection. When glass breaks, an ear piercing alarm instantly sounds. The door sensors trigger that same ear wrenching siren 30 seconds after the door is opened.

  10. Motion Detectors: Motion detectors are often inferred receptive. They pick up body heat and motion so the moment an intruder enters the room, the alarm will sound.

  11. Lock the Car Doors: Again many robbers are looking for easy access. Every single car on our street was touched the night of our break in. Every car that had unlocked doors was searched and ransacked.

  12. Hide the Garage Opener: Keeping garage clickers and gate clickers in your vehicle is a great way to remind yourself to keep your home locked up. The only downside to having the remotes in your vehicle is if the car is broken into, there is easy access for the burglar to enter your home and garage. Keep the remotes hidden under or behind the seats.

  13. Smart Home Automation: If you are a person that constantly has a million things on your mind you might want to consider getting a security system with a smartphone app. These apps allow you to double check that you locked your door, shut your garage door, set the alarm, set the light timer from bed or across the world.

  14. Alarms: Sirens, screams, barks and loud noises all help keep bad guys away. The policeman who came to report our break in said that if you ever encounter a burglar it is best to make as much noise as possible.

  15. Door Sensors: Most security systems offer door and window sensors that notify you each time the doors and windows are opened or closed. You can program the alarm to sound when the door is opened. Our burglars entered straight through our front door, never breaking a thing. Talk with a My Utilities advisor about door and window sensor options for your home.

We never thought this would happen to us, nobody thinks it will happen to them. The people who get hurt in break ins never think that will happen to them either. But having a half dozen policemen and detectives in your home warning you of more horrific occurrences every single night will whip you into shape quickly. Please listen to me when I plead with you not to be naive about how susceptible each person is having a similar experience to the one we had last night.
Life needs balance. We need to be aware of what is going on around us but not become crippled by it. We need to be good stewards of what have been given but not hold them too tightly. We cannot be consumed fearing the “what ifs” but also must acknowledge some harsh realities of the world we live in.

I have always thought that ignorance was bliss when it came to scary things. After last night's break in though, I think ignorance is a stupid choice. Understanding potential risks is wise. Minimizing risk in our lives is responsible. You don’t have to kill spontaneity in your life; it sometimes only takes two seconds and those two seconds of considerate thought can go an extremely long way. Take a second to lock your door, take a second to set your alarm, take a second to check behind you as you head home, take a second think about your family and friends and how much your safety means to them.

Be smart. Minimize risk in your life for you and your family.

Talk to a MyUtilities agent today to see which Home Security System best fits your needs, budget, and preferences. 888-554-4609