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Behind the Badge Make sure to keep up with your annual safety checks

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Posted: Monday, August 22, 2011 12:00 am

With recent news regarding the release of thousands of criminals back onto our streets, we really need to take more responsibility for our own safety and the protection of our property.

In this column I will focus on improving the safety of our property since most of the criminals who will be released are classified as "non-violent." From responding to hundreds of residential and business alarm calls, I've noticed that too many of us neglect to really make sure that our home or businesses are as protected as possible.

Now, I am not talking about turning our home into fortresses with bars on all the windows and alligators in a moat. I am talking about simple steps that we can take to deter thieves from choosing our home or business as a target.

The fire department tells us to change the batteries in our smoke alarms when Daylight Saving Time comes around. Maybe we can do the same for our home security.

Take a minute to stand in front of your house or business and take a good look and ask yourself these questions. How is the outside lighting? Is there a dark area that could use some extra lighting or perhaps a motion sensor light? Are there overgrown bushes that could be used as a hiding place by someone trying to break into the house or business? When was the last time you really checked your door and window locks?

Just because your locks keep your doors and windows closed, does not necessarily mean they are secure. I recently checked my locks and found that a door and a couple of windows locks needed to be replaced. They would engage but, because of wear and tear, a little jiggle would unlock them. I also found that the rear doors on my quad-cab truck were not locking when I used my remote locking control. A little lubricant fixed that, but who knows how long I have been driving along with unlocked doors?

If you do not have an alarm system, maybe looking into one might be a good idea. I know alarm systems cost money but there are many different types of systems that range in price and service. If you do have an alarm system, when was the last time you checked its operation? Most systems have self-diagnostic controls, but when was the last time that you actually set your alarm and opened the door to see if your siren is still loud enough? (Make sure you contact your alarm company before doing this).

What about your neighbors? In these times of foreclosures and short sales, have you met your new neighbors and maybe discussed a Neighborhood Watch program? We have found that a vigilant Neighborhood Watch is worth more than any alarm system.

So take a look at your house, your business and even your vehicle. Think like a thief. Compare your house with those of your neighbors. If you were a burglar, which one would be most inviting?

Most burglars look for an easy target. They will sit down the street and wait for a homeowner to drive off to pick up the kids at school or go shopping. Then they make their move. It only takes a few minutes to get in and out of a house.

Give us a call if you notice a suspicious vehicle sitting in your neighborhood. If a couple of guys are just walking around your neighborhood ringing doorbells for no apparent reason, call us.

What we need to do is deter them and make it as difficult as we can. Most burglars do not want to work hard at stealing our property. That would be too much like having a real job — and we all know how they feel about that.

Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at jbiskup@pd.lodi.gov; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 209-333-6864.

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