Tucker County Sheriff Tom Felton recently provided citizens with the following crime-prevention tips, as area police continue to investigate local burglaries.
Felton said it is important to remember these tips, because it is generally easier to prevent crimes than to solve them once they have occurred.
Make sure your home is secure. Ensure all door and window locks are in good working order. Deadbolt locks are preferred for all exterior doors. Sliding glass windows and doors can be made secure with a cutoff piece of broomstick or wood or metal rod placed in the track.
Lock your doors when you leave your home, even if you are only walking down the street. Criminals are opportunists and may know your habits.
If you are going on vacation or otherwise leaving for several days, take steps to protect your home. First and foremost, do not publicize the fact you are leaving on Facebook or other social media. Have the post office hold your mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick it up each day, as well as newspapers. Buy a timer to put on a lamp, radio or television to give the appearance of someone being home. Do not put a message on your telephone answering machine advising of your absence. Make arrangements for someone to mow your grass. Notify the sheriff's office or other law enforcement agency that you will be gone. As resources allow, an agency might be able to check your property during your absence.
You might want to consider buying an alarm system. Having a barking dog in the home can serve as a deterrent. Anti-burglary warnings such as Operation ID or Neighborhood Watch stickers can be helpful.
Exterior lighting can be an effective deterrent to criminals. Motion lights work very well, as it can be somewhat unnerving for a person with ill intentions when the lights come on. Report any non-functional streetlights in your area to the proper authorities.
Consider removing or trimming any shrubbery that may hide a criminal lurking near your windows. Look for any other areas of concealment that might be abated.
Do not leave unsecured ladders on your property. Thieves can use these to get to your porch roof, second-floor windows or vents to access to your home.
Hide cash or valuables or keep them in a large safe that is not easily removed. Do not keep large amounts of cash on hand.
Make an inventory of all of your valuables. Take photos or video recordings of these items. Record serial numbers, make and model names and any other pertinent information and keep it in a secure place. This can be helpful in filing insurance claims or identifying stolen property that has been recovered. Engraving or marking your property in some other manner may make it less desirable to potential thieves. Contact Felton to obtain information about "Operation ID." If you do have items stolen, disclose this information about the property only to law enforcement or your insurance company.
Do not disclose personal wealth to others. Do not talk about the amount of cash or valuables you keep in your home.
Report to law enforcement any suspicious activity in the neighborhood. Areas with an increase in crime may want to consider the formation of a "Neighborhood Crime Watch." The Tucker County Sheriff's Office can assist with this endeavor.