The best way to keep your family and yourself safe during the hustle and bustle of the holidays is to make safety a priority. And, taking simple precautions, including talking with your children about safety, is an easy place to start. In fact, children can be awfully good at reminding us of what we should be doing!
Double Oak Police Chief Derrick Watson, coping with a number of recent burglaries, says, “Generally, we live in a safe area, but the more people moving here and travelling through, the more likely we are to experience crime.”
Al DeMarzo, a residential alarm systems specialist for over 35 years, former police officer and owner of DFW Alarm in Flower Mound, echoes Chief Watson’s advice, “Unfortunately, crime happens 12 months a year, especially in an area like ours that’s experiencing tremendous growth. And,” DeMarzo added, “the bad guys know that people in the suburbs tend to be more complacent. During the holidays, when folks are out shopping and visiting, they see the ‘pickings’ as easier. ”
No matter whether you are at home, out running errands, with friends or out of town, the experts all agree on some simple steps to keep in mind.
“Be aware,” says DeMarzo. “I am a big proponent of getting to know your neighbors, of Neighborhood Crime Watches and being on the look out for unknown people and vehicles on your street.” Chief Watson says pre- and post-offense behavior is pretty easy to spot when you’re aware. In fact, reports from Double Oak neighbors who witnessed one of the recent burglaries included having seen a man running down the street with a pillowcase full of something. “No good can come of a man running down the street with a bag or a pillowcase,” says Chief Watson. “If a reasonable person picks up on that sort of thing or any type of suspicious activity, it’s appropriate to call 9-1-1.”
“And don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1,” continued Watson, “that’s what they’re there for! If you think something looks odd or out of place, dial 9-1-1. The folks at Denton County Dispatch are very friendly, very helpful and they will enable the police or the Sheriff’s Office to arrive quickly.”
The ‘Pros’ will also remind you to lock up your house when you’re leaving it: close the windows, close and lock all the doors. Keeping your garage door closed is another way to avoid being an ‘easy’ target, as well as removing billfolds, purses and other items from your car, so they aren’t likely to be seen and taken.
“And I highly encourage the use of burglar alarm systems,” says Chief Watson. “Not just having one, but using it regularly!” DeMarzo says security systems give people peace of mind, especially when the system is monitored. “You’ll get a call within 15 seconds of your system being set off,” says DeMarzo, whose company offers alarm monitoring for only $12.95 per month with no contract. “And, where there’s interior and exterior motion lighting, you’ll also discourage intruders. Burglars don’t like lights or noise,” DeMarzo laughed. “They know they don’t have time. When they see lights and hear sirens, they have even less.”
If you are heading out of town, consider letting a neighbor and the police know, so they can keep an eye on your house. Most police departments provide a courtesy house watch if notified of your absence.
It may reassure some that the regulation, licensing, certification and training required of security system businesses, from the owners, installers and technicians to office staff, are rigorously managed by the Texas Department of Safety, as well as the FBI, another measure of safety for those of us considering further protecting ourselves and our loved ones.
While we often hear burglars are looking for an easy target, that they just want to get in and out with stuff, anyone who has been the victim of a burglary will tell you, it’s the violation of their space, their privacy and their peace of mind that outweighs the loss of their belongings.
‘Tis the season to be safe! We wish you a safe and happy holiday season.