Editorial: Protect yourself from burglary

Residents may have been surprised to hear from First Selectman Timothy Herbst last week, informing them that there has been a rash of burglaries in town.

Indeed, to a casual observer it would seem that Trumbull is in the midst of a crime wave, with the Radio Shack robbery and other crime stories making headlines around town.

In the last 20 days, there have been eight burglaries in Trumbull, primarily on the west side from Long Hill into Tashua.

Police Chief Tom Kiely has promised an aggressive response, including increased patrols throughout town on main roads and residential neighborhoods. Police will be in marked and unmarked vehicles.

Residents are encouraged to report any suspicious activity in their neighborhood, whether an unfamiliar car or van parked in someone’s driveway or a door-to-door salesman or contractor who cannot provide the proper idenitification.

In addition to keeping police informed, residents can also take basic steps to make their home a less attractive target for burglary. A typical burglary takes less than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to get inside the house, so catching a burglar in the act is difficult, and for a homeowner, prevention is key. Anything that slows a burglar down is likely to be a deterrent.

In addition to following Herbst and Kiely’s advice, residents can further protect themselves from burglary by following some basic tips from home security experts.

First, and most important for safety, do not confront a burglar. If you notice anything amiss when returning home, do not go inside. Broken windows, open doors or lights on can all be signs that someone is inside your house. Remain at a safe distance and call police. Burglaries rarely involve violence, but when they do it is almost always because the burglar was surprised.

But the best defense is to prevent a burglary in the first place. To do that, follow some basic tips:

•    Be a nosy neighbor. Let anyone walking by or sitting in a parked car see you watching them. Make note of unfamiliar car license plates.

•    Tell neighbors you trust if you plan to be away. They will then be more likely to notice cars in your driveway or lights in your house.

•    Use timers to switch lights on and off at random, cancel newspapers and put a hold on mail.

•    Get a dog. Even small dogs are effective deterrents because they spook easily and bark loudly.

•    Consider motion-activated lights and an alarm, preferably with visible signs.

Nowadays, the danger of burglary is more than simple loss of possessions. Identity theft is an ever-increasing danger and the loss of a credit card or Social Security card can be a nightmare. Also, with the spotlight on stolen guns, even legal gun owners can unwittingly contribute to future violent crimes if their weapons fall into the hands of a criminal who then sells them on the streets.

By following a few simple tips, residents can make their home and their community safer.