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Millions of Americans travel over the Spring Break season beginning in March, leaving their homes with valuable items for an extended period of time.
If not extra careful, burglars can see it as opportunity to break-in.
“Anytime you go out on vacation if someone is watching they’ll notice you’re gone,” Jefferson City police officer Josh Hagemeyer said.
According to a Safewise report, a burglary takes place about every 18 seconds in the U.S. and surprisingly nearly 30 percent of burglars enter a home through an unlocked door or window.
“It’s important to make sure you’re taking extra steps to secure your home,” said Hagemeyer, the Neighborhood Watch Coordinator for Jefferson City. “Neighborhood Watch is primarily focused on property crimes such as burglary, theft, and things like property damage.”
About 25 active groups take part in the self-driven Neighborhood Watch program. Through the program, police educate residents on how to better protect their homes and vehicles.
Hagemeyer said for starters, everyone should keep their doors and windows locked and secure any sliding doors with a rod or stick.
A door stopper can also be used to block other ways of getting inside.
Security Experts recommend to never share traveling plans online. Posting about your trip is an invitation to potential burglars. Also keep home lights on a timer to make it appear as if someone is home. Install cameras or an alarm. Experts said 83-percent of burglars look for an alarm, and 60 percent are deterred by a security system.
Hagemeyer advised to “try and get to know your neighbors better.”
The popular saying is “good fences make good neighbors,” but good neighbors can make sure your home is safe while you’re away.
Co-captains Gerry and Dan DeLong formed their neighborhood watch about three years ago and they said they’ve seen quite a difference.
“Much safer,” Gerry and Dan DeLong said. “And it’s brought the neighborhood together.”
The DeLong’s said all their neighbors look out for each other and are aware when someone is going out of town to avoid any break-ins.
“Nobody wants to go to bed at night and think they’re going to be broken into or wake up and hear a noise in the middle of the night,” Gerry said. “This just gives you a peaceful and easy feeling when going out and getting groceries or going on vacation.”
But if you are home and you hear a noise, Hagemeyer said to find a safe room inside, call 911 immediately and stay on the phone until help arrives.
For more information on the Neighborhood Watch program in Jefferson City contact Officer Hageymer at (573) 634-6400 and, for Columbia, click here.