Lock it and go
The last thing you want to do on vacation this summer is worry about someone breaking into your home. We asked Orinda police chief William French and Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy Elmer Glasser for advice about preventing burglariesand protecting your belongings.
May the Force Be With You: Were you aware that you can have a patrol car drive by your house while you’re on vacation? The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department and most local police departments help vacation-goers relax by checking up on their homes. Residents can call or stop by the sheriff’s office or police station to fill out a card with the dates they’ll be gone, providing information such as what cars should be in their driveway, what day the gardener or housekeeper comes, and who should be contacted in case of emergency. Officers will then cruise by at regular intervals to see what’s up while you’re away. Contact the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department, (925) 646-2441, www.cocosheriff.org , or check with your local police station for more information.
Photograph Your Treasures: Recovering stolen items is a long shot, but it happens. Take photos of your treasured belongings and record all the serial numbers on your electronics. This can help police identify hot merchandise. If you don’t have a safe or safe-deposit box, hide jewelry and other small valuables in an unexpected place.
Beware of the New Crime Wave: Identity theft is still one of the fastest growing crimes—and one that many vacation-goers overlook. Have someone pick up your mail while you’re gone so no one steals personal information out of your mailbox, or have the post office hold your mail until you get back.
Make Your Home Visible: ”Ask yourself whether your house looks inviting to burglars,” says French. “Burglars tend to prefer easy jobs: secluded homes or those with overgrown trees and bushes that help hide someone breaking in, homes without outdoor lighting, homes without an alarm system.” Put a few indoor lights on a timer when you’re away so it looks as if someone is home at night. —Jennifer Grass and Catherine Cromelin