3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Home While You’re Away

Reprint of article by: Brittany Ritchey
Remember the scene in Home Alone where Kevin rigs his house with every booby trap imaginable to foil two burglars? Good news: You can “defend” your house just as well, with a lot less effort. (A major “yay!”)  These simple strategies will give you peace‐of‐mind when you’re away—and, hey, if you want to leave glass ornaments under a windowsill, too, go for it.

Discretion is advised

A full mailbox, Facebook updates from the airport, and a trash can that stays parked next to the garage on trash day all advertise: “Nobody is home!” The most secure way to handle mail and trash while you’re gone is to put someone you trust in charge—a neighbor, a friend who lives near you, etc. This person can also do quick visual checks. My go‐to is my pet sitter. When she feeds my cat, she takes care of the other stuff, too—it only takes her a few extra minutes. And as hard as it is, stay mum about your travel on social media…at least until you’re back home. Even with strict privacy settings, any information you put online can spread beyond your inner circle.

Fake it (being home, that is)

Think about the little things you can do to make it look like “business as usual” at your house. It may cost a little extra—but it’s worth it to return to a home that’s just how you left it. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use timers for your exterior and interior lights.
  • Leave a radio or TV on, for noise (I like to think my cat appreciates this, too).
  • Turn down the volume on your home phone (if you have one), so no one can hear it ring from the outside.

A little extra will go a long way

A few more precautions will put the icing on your home protection cake. To prevent water damage—which can be very costly—consider shutting off your water and putting your water heater in vacation mode. Then, leave your heat or air conditioning running while you’re out—just adjust the temperature so it’s a little higher or lower than usual.

So, there you have it. Three little to‐do’s, and your home is as ready for your trip as you are—and you are, right? Quick, go check your suitcase. There’s always room for one more thing!

Submitted by Linda Collins

Published on June 3, 2014

Bothered by Solicitors?

Recently a neighbor called me with concern about a solicitor in the area going house to house.  I got the scoop on solicitation regulation in Dallas.  Here are the facts.

  • In Dallas, solicitation is prohibited on Sunday, New Year’s Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
  • Monday through Saturday, solicitation is not allowed before 9:00 a.m. or 30 minutes after sunset.

The ordinance exempts a person holding a charitable solicitation permit.

However, if you want to prohibit solicitation at all times you can post a sign on your door. “Conspicuously” display the sign.  It should read “No Soliciting,” the sign must be at least 3” by 4”, and the lettering must be at least 1/3” tall.

If you also want to prohibit leaflets and brochures, you need to include something like “No Advertisements” on the sign.

If you still get advertisements, keep the card or flyer and call 311 to report the violation.  Be sure to ask for a report number so you can follow-up on the report.  The incident will be forwarded to Code Compliance.  If the compliance officer needs the actual brochure, they will contact you.

If solicitors still come to your door, do NOT open the door, but ask through the door what the individual’s business is and what company they represent.  Be sure you let the unwanted person know you are home so they won’t attempt a break-in.  Direct their attention to your “No Solicitors” sign.   If they leave without objection, you may report the violation with the date, time and name of the company to Code Enforcement by calling 311.

If the solicitor will not leave or is in any way threatening, call 911 immediately and report the incident.

If you think the person’s behavior is suspicious, the police encourage you to call 911.  We have had persons use the guise of solicitation for criminal activity. The police are happy to come out and verify that these individuals are legitimate so don’t hesitate.

Here are some signs for you to download and print:
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Published on May 5, 2014

Make Your Home Less Appealing to Burglars

There are a number of thing you can do to make your own property safe and less appealing to burglars.  Here are some commonsense, inexpensive tips to make yourself more secure.

  • Close the garage door even when you are at home to prevent tools and equipment from disappearing in a crime of convenience
  • Add deadbolt locks if you do not already have them
  • Trim shrubs if they hide windows and can obscure someone breaking in. Plant low, prickly plants that will discourage burglars
  • Drip solder on the screws of window locks on lower floors, which will prevent a burglar from removing them
  • Trim trees that provide easy access to second floor doors or windows
  • Sliding glass doors are particularly vulnerable since they usually have latches instead of locks.
  • Place a long, thick dowel in the track when you are not at home to prevent the door from being opened from outside.
  • If you are going on vacation, be sure to place a temporary stop on your newspapers and mail delivery. A good alternative is to ask a trusted neighbor to collect items so they don’t pile up and advertise that you are away
  • Lock your doors when you leave even for a quick trip! Thieves can act fast 

Please review the tips above and take advantage of those that are practical for you and your family.

Published on April 11, 2014

Flooding Season calls for Careful Parking

Just a reminder, the picture below shows the areas within Bryan Place that are most prone to flooding.  As severe weather season is upon us, be careful not to park cars on low‐lying streets in these areas when storms are forecast.

The storm drain upgrades originally approved in the 2006 bond election are still several years from completion.

New residents should check with their surrounding neighbors about high‐water levels that were seen in previous years, especially in 2006, when flooding didn’t subside for several hours.

Published on April 2, 2014

Need a New or Replacement House Alarm System?

Buying a new product or service can be a confusing prospect. An amazing website has come to our attention.

A group of experts at www.reviews.com provides independent research and analysis and provides that research to consumers. For each type of product, an expert in the field conducts the research and provides a rating of the top products in that category.

Examples of the kinds of products reviewed on the site include:

  • credit cards
  • software
  • web hosting
  • GRE and MCAT Prep Courses, and other educational on‐line courses
  • on‐line stock trading
  • internet and DSL services
  • online dating services
  • exercise equipment
  • insurance products and much more.

If you are looking for a new home security system, their expert, Florin Onofrei, has compiled a list of 25 home security companies and then selected 9 standout companies to review based on 57 home security system features. It is an impressive review that would take you hours of research on your own.

You can access the information on home security systems at http://www.reviews.com/home-security-systems/

Published on March 7, 2014

Home Safety – Protect against Oven Fires

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) and LED light bulbs are great energy savers, but they are not safe in extreme temperatures.

If you need to replace your oven light, look for appliance light bulbs. These hardy little bulbs are here to stay since they are designed for extreme temperatures in ovens and refrigerators. Forty‐watt (40 –watt) bulbs are exempt from federal efficiency standards.

CFL and LED bulbs can melt in oven temperatures and cause a fire. Lighting labels should designate safe temperatures, but warnings may be in fine print.

Be safe!

Fire Safety and Compact Fluorescent Lights

Published on March 7, 2014

Security Tip: Put your keys by your bedside at night

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.

Next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think of this: It’s a security alarm system that you probably already have and requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you park in your driveway or garage.

If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won’t stick around. After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out of their windows to see who is out there, and sure enough the criminal won’t want that. And remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The alarm can work the same way there. This tip is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could save a life or prevent a sexual abuse crime.

Published on February 11, 2014

Reviews of Home Security Systems

Industry Expert Florin Onofrei and the Reviews.com research team compiled a list of 25 home security companies and then selected 9 standout companies to review based on 57 home security system features.

Holiday Preparations

Here are a few tips to keep would-be burglars from knowing when your house is unoccupied:

Inform your neighbors when you will be out of town

 

Hold the delivery of your mail

To hold your mail, call 800-ASK-USPS or use the Hold Mail Service
 

Halt delivery of your newspaper

To halt your Dallas Morning News, call 800-925-1500 or use the DMN Subscriber Service
 

Mark your valuables

Etch your telephone or driver’s license number onto the back of flat screen televisions, monitors, laptops, and other smaller items. These are the most commonly stolen items and adding the information may make it easier to track down stolen items.

Published on November 6, 2012