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Hasbrouck Heights Police Department  [un-Official web-site]

Vacation-proof Your Home

An Overview

Most communities across the United States will experience a 10 to 18 percent increase in home burglaries during the months of June, July and August, with most tending to occur in August.

The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or school.

Statistics suggest that 70% of the burglars use some amount of force to enter a dwelling, but their preference is to gain easy access through an open door or window.

Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are most often used for break-ins.

Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process. Burglars choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes.

Burglaries are committed most often by young males under 25 years of age looking for items that are small, expensive, that can easily be converted to cash.

Jewelry, guns, watches, laptop computers, VCRs, CD players, and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Quick cash is needed for living expenses or drugs.

The average loss per residential burglary hovers around the $1,300 mark.


Don’t Advertise

Burglars are always on the prowl for a house that looks temporarily unoccupied, so don’t "advertise" your home as an easy target.

Light, time, and noise are a homeowner’s greatest weapons --- if it takes a burglar more than four or five minutes to break into your home, they’ll move on.


Practical Tips

Whether going down the shore for a long weekend or taking that long planned vacation trip, the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department offers some practical steps to protect your home from theft and damage while you’re away.

• Notify the police if you are going to be gone longer than a week as they will often schedule extra drive bys.

• Have a friend or neighbor collect the mail, newspapers and fliers.

• Never leave an outgoing answering machine message saying you’re away. Set your machine for five rings (answering too soon or too late indicates nobody is at home).

• Leave the light on over the stove, as the kitchen tends to have lights on the most.

• Put lights on timers in two or three rooms so the lights go on and off at various times.

• Timers should be used on a daily basis. By setting up a routine, your neighbors can become suspicious when your normally lighted home becomes dark.

• Use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. The timing pattern should simulate occupancy.

• Timers can be used to turn on a radio or television. Turn your stereo on to a talk station to create a more realistic impression that someone is home.

• Outside motion lighting should be installed high enough so that the bulbs can’t be unscrewed by a possible intruder.

• Security lights with infrared motion sensors are relatively inexpensive and can easily replace an exterior porch light or side door light.

The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute.

These security lights are highly recommended for single family homes.

• Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest point of entry, followed by the back door. The garage and back doors also provide the most cover.



• Double-check that door and window locks work properly, especially in older homes where they may not fit tightly any longer.

• Windows left unlocked and open are entered at a much higher rate than doors.

• An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home to be selected by a burglar. Basement and ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons.

• Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, balcony or deck.

• Make sure the AC unit is properly secured so a burglar can’t push it in.



Experienced burglars can tell from the street if a door is easily breachable. Install deadbolt locks and make sure the strike plate is securely fastened to the door.

• Door glass can be covered with a film or glazing that is resistant to breaking.

• Pull out the plug on your electric overhead garage door opener. This will disable the unit and prevent anyone tampering with the frequencies and gaining entry.


Street Assessment

Crop shrubs and, if necessary, trim trees. If your yard is neat there is nowhere for a burglar to stand or hide when breaking a window.

• Examine your home and make sure that valuables are not visible from the street

• Partially close all curtains or blinds to ensure that nobody can look in. Leave upstairs curtains open while first floor drapes shut.


Padlock All Gates

Make your backyard inaccessible. Padlocking your gates makes getting into the backyard more difficult (not impossible), but it seriously hinders getting out while carrying items like stereos and computers. This difficulty level serves as a strong deterrent.


Obliterate Alternate Methods of Entry

Put away or chain up ladders, barbecues, garden tools, patio furniture and other items that could aid in a burglary or could be stolen.


Car in Driveway

Park your car in the driveway and have a neighbor move it so it looks like someone is home. Offer your neighbor a place to park.

Preventing  Household Emergencies

• Make sure the smoke detector is functioning.

• Unplug unnecessary appliances. Shut off water to washing machine. A broken hose could flood your home.

• Tell someone where you’ve gone and leave a contact number where you can be reached.


Get a Safe

Home safes are designed to keep the smash and grab burglar, nosey kids, dishonest babysitter or housekeeper from gaining access to important documents, small valuable items, and personal property.

Home safes need to be anchored into the floor or permanent shelving. Install it away from the master bedroom or closet.

• Include in it the video tape of your possessions.

• Use the safe routinely.

• Protect the safe code and change it occasionally.


Alarm Systems

Alarm systems deter burglaries because they increase the potential and fear of being caught and arrested by the police.

Home and apartment burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs.

• Don’t write your alarm passcode on or near the alarm keypad.

• Alarm systems can monitor for fire as well as burglary.

• All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective. Audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one or two minutes. The criminal got the message and will be long gone but your neighbors will have to listen to the alarm bell, sometimes for hours, until it is shut off.

• Home alarms, like car alarms, are generally ignored except for a brief glance.

• Instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell.


Property Identification

Engrave your driver’s license, not your social security number, on televisions, stereos, computers, and small electronic appliances so police can identify your stolen items if recovered.

• Patrol cars are equipped with computers which can easily trace driver’s licenses.

• Photograph your valuables and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers. Keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative. Include receipts of the larger items. This provides proof when filing insurance claims.

• Photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet.


Extra Precautions

The Hasbrouck Heights Police Department also offers these precautions:

• Refrain from carrying anything with you that will create physical, financial or emotional hardship if lost or stolen.

• Leave extra credit cards, keys and expensive jewelry at home.

• Carry traveler’s checks. (They are refundable if lost or stolen).

• Leave prescription medicines in the original containers marked with the prescription numbers.

• Leave your passports and valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel.

• Don’t put your home address on baggage tags. Use your business address instead.

• Carry a list of all credit cards and bankcards with you. Don’t keep it in your purse or wallet. (You may need the list to report the loss or theft of these cards).

• When you check in at your hotel, don’t give your home address verbally. Also, if you are a single woman, caution the front desk clerk not to announce your room number.

• Before you go shopping or sightseeing in a strange city, check with the hotel concierge for directions to your destination and the safest mode of transportation to get you there.

The Hasbrouck Heights Police Department wishes you an enjoyable and safe vacation. And if you are driving, don’t forget to buckle up! ###

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