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Preventing home burglaries

It’s the middle of the holiday season, which means many people are traveling or planning to travel. But police want to remind the public to take the proper steps to keep their home safe while they’re gone.

Sgt. Trent Whitney with Pocatello police said while burglaries do tend to increase just slightly around Christmas, there’s not a significant difference from the number of burglaries they see year-round.

Whitney said since Sept. 1, Pocatello PD has reported a little more than 100 burglaries. That includes homes, businesses and property, such as storage units. But he said the common factor with most of them is unlocked doors or easy entry. Whitney said only 30 percent of those burglaries were forced entry, while the remaining 70 percent was “opportunity,” which police classify as easy entry. This can be unlocked doors or things like doors and windows that are in poor condition and easily broken into.

“You want to make sure that your doors are locked, you want to make sure that they’re in good condition, and that people aren’t taking advantage of things that are already broken and in disrepair,” Whitney said.

Whitney said double check every aspect of your home, because thieves will get in anywhere they see an opportunity.

“They’re leaving their side garage door open, they’re not locking their garage and people are able to just pick it up,” Whitney said. “Huge one that I saw in there was sliding glass doors, people just sliding somebody’s back glass door open and going in. Crawling in through pet doors, one I saw was the air conditioning unit had been pushed in.”

So if you’re traveling for the holiday, how do you keep your home from looking like a target? Whitney said the key is to make it look like someone is still at home.

“If they receive the newspaper they can stop the paper so it doesn’t pile up on their doorstep,” he said. “If it’s the time of year when there’s snow and stuff like that on the ground, talk to their neighbors and see if they’d be willing to get their snow out of their driveway so that it looks like somebody’s home. And also leave some lights on in the house. One of the best things that you can do is leave a radio plugged in the house that just generates some noise.”

Whitney said making sure any spare keys are well-hid and secure is important too. Hiding it in obvious places like above the door ledge, under a plant or under a welcome mat are easily found. Whitney said the best idea is to try and hide the key somewhere only you have access to. For example, he said keeping a spare key in the garage that is locked with a keypad. He said extra steps like this can be very important in keeping your home safe.

Some of the most common items stolen, especially this time of year are t.v.s, electronics, credit cards and guns. Whitney said it’s always a good idea to either write down serial numbers of electronics or take a picture of the number. That way if it is stolen, it’s a lot easier to track.

Whitney said just being alert and being alert to your neighbors is always important too. Whitney said the police department just wants everyone to have a safe holiday so they hope people are cautious and thoughtful about their homes and belongings.

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