Meeting explains ways to prevent crime

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Mike DuPre'
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sue and Bill Koch and Jan Kucaba ventured out on a rainy Wednesday night to a crime prevention meeting because they had not prevented crime: Their homes were among some three dozen burglarized in rural Rock County since mid-August.

Bob Wentzlaff lives only blocks from the Rock County Courthouse, the site Sheriff Bob Spoden chose for the meeting. Wentzlaff hasn’t been victimized, but he’s concerned about the heavy foot traffic and large number of strangers walking in his neighborhood.

The Koches were victims because of a mistake that Deputy Paul Kremer, the program presenter, said many people make: They left a garage window unlocked and the door from the attached garage to the house was unlocked.

The thieves got away with three TVs, a computer monitor and a pistol.

The Koches, who live in Bradford Township, not only now lock all their doors and windows, but they also have installed an alarm system.

The crooks broke into Kucaba’s Johnstown Township home by busting a dead-bolt lock from a weak lock receiver in the door frame. The thieves took electronic devices.

The Kucabas have strengthened their locks and are exploring an alarm system.

Wentzlaff thinks his neighborhood could benefit from a neighborhood watch group.

Kremer went over all those suggestions and more in his presentation, the basic message of which was: Make your home uninviting to crooks.

As Spoden said to start the meeting: “Criminals are pretty lazy. If you make yourself a hardened target … chances are they’re going to move on to another target.”

And as Kremer pointed out, hardening your home doesn’t mean putting bars on the windows, but using good sense and making safe practices a routine for yourself and every member of your household.

He stressed that by controlling your environment, you reduce opportunities for crooks to make you their next victim.

“We don’t expect you to be cops,” Spoden said. “We do expect you to be good neighbors. Look out for each other. Follow your instincts, that little bell that’s going off.

“If you see suspicious activity, call us. We’ll check it out.”

Keeping your home secure

-- Secure all windows and sliding doors.

-- Lock your home, even if leaving for a short time.

-- Lock sliding glass doors and put wooden dowels in the door tracks. Lock windows and put dowels vertically in them.

-- Keep yards well lit.

-- Do not leave purses and other valuables within view of windows. If your big-screen TV or other valuables are visible through a window, install curtains and use them.

-- Keep a record of the model and serial numbers of items such as electronic devices, appliances and firearms. Etch your driver’s license number into items that don’t have serial numbers.

-- Keep your garage door closed. Make sure the interior door to your home is locked and dead-bolted. Make sure deadbolts are at least an inch long and are secured in a strong doorframe and lock receiver. Make sure exterior doors are solid, not hollow-core, composition board or light aluminum.

-- Don’t hide keys outside. Crooks know where to look. If your child must carry a key to your home, attach it to his or her backpack or coat and make sure there’s no identifying information on either.

-- Keep jewelry, coin collections and other valuables in a safety deposit box. If you keep them in your home, keep their value and location confidential.

-- Be cautious of strangers. When in doubt, call law enforcement.

-- Never allow anyone in your home unless you know the person. Demand credentials from anyone who shows up uninvited for a task that will allow him or her into your home:—checking your electrical box, for instance. If they can’t produce credentials, call law enforcement.

-- If they say it’s an emergency, offer to call 911 for them.

-- Do not reveal your name, phone number or address to unknown callers. Never admit you are home alone or say when you will be away from home.

-- Never leave notes that can inform a burglar that your home is unoccupied.

-- Set a timer to switch on lights. Don’t leave lights on 24 hours a day.

-- Know your neighbors.

-- When away from home, leave contact information with trusted neighbors. Have them occasionally park their car in your driveway. Have someone watch your house, mow your lawn or shovel snow, and pick up mail and newspapers. You can arrange with the post office and newspaper to temporarily halt delivery.

-- Leave drapes in a normal position to maintain a lived-in appearance.

-- If you buy an expensive item such as a big-screen TV, don’t leave the box out for passers-by to see. Break it down and put it out on collection day, not before.

-- Lock your vehicle and park off the street or in a locked garage. Never keep purses, wallets, checkbooks, laptops, cell phones, large numbers of compact discs or other valuables in your vehicle. Don’t put your purse or other valuables in a trunk at a shopping center or movie theaters. Thieves could be watching and break a window to get to an interior trunk latch.

-- Report suspicious activity. Note the make, model, color and license plate number in vehicle descriptions.

-- If you see a crime or what might be a crime, call 911. If you see something suspicious, call the Rock County non-emergency number: (608) 757-2244.

To reach CrimeStoppers, call (608) 756-3636 in Janesville; 1-800-422-7463 in Green County; or (262) 723-2677 or 1-800-242-7463 in Walworth County.

Last updated: 7:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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