Experts with the Beeville Police Department will provide tips on how to avoid identity theft, burglaries and thefts, according Police Chief Joe Treviño.
The seminar is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about two hours.
Treviño, however, is already providing some tips on how to prevent burglars from targeting one’s home.
With recent reports indicating that burglaries are on the rise here, the chief took the opportunity to comment on some burglary tips that have appeared on the Internet.
Most burglars probably would look familiar to the victim, Treviño said, because it is highly likely that he was just at the victim’s house delivering an appliance, painting the trim or cleaning the carpet.
The chief said even somebody who stops by and asks to use the bathroom may be checking the contents of the house and taking inventory of televisions, electronics, jewelry, guns or other items that can easily be sold to raise cash.
If someone is in your house without being supervised, as in using the bathroom, you might want to check the windows after he leaves. He may have left one unlocked so he can return when you’re gone.
Expensive toys left in the driveway may tip off a potential burglar to what kind of nice things he may find inside when you are gone. Toys could also suggest to the would-be burglar what kind of gaming systems might be inside.
The chief confirmed that piled up newspapers in the driveway, advertising fliers on the front door, leaves on the front porch for days, or a full mailbox also are signs to a would-be burglar that no one has been home in days.
Treviño said people who plan to be out of town should have someone stop by the house daily to pick up newspapers, take the fliers off the door and make the place look inhabited.
Another mistake people make is locating an alarm control pad in the open where someone walking by can see if it is set.
Also, an alarm system without a backup battery to keep it operating in the event of a power failure is an invitation for a burglar to strike.
The chief warned that if someone knocks and you answer the door to find a stranger asking for directions or offering to do some odd job around the house, call police. He may be checking to see if anyone is home.
Any good security company will put motion detectors and alarm sensors on all floors and on all windows, even the small window over the sink, Treviño said.
Also, burglars will dump your dresser drawers, your bedside table, the medicine cabinet and they will look under your bed and overturn your mattress.
But burglars like to get in and get out of someone’s home in a hurry. For that reason, they might not go into a child’s room looking for valuables – unless the child is older and may have a television or a gaming system in the room.
In some recent burglaries in Beeville, the thief hit only the older child’s room and took a gaming system.
Safes are a good place to put valuables, the chief confirmed. But if the safe is not anchored to the floor or the wall, the burglar will simply take it with him.
It is true that a loud television or radio playing may be a better deterrent to a burglar than the best alarm system.
For just a few dollars, home owners can buy timers to turn lights, televisions and radios on and off while the occupant is away from home.
If a burglar is not sure the occupants are gone, he won’t risk trying to get inside.
Burglars will disguise themselves as meter readers, yard workers or anything else to avoid standing out in a neighborhood. And they hate noisy dogs and nosy neighbors. Treviño urged people to encourage their neighbors to keep watch on their homes when they are gone and for people to do the same for their neighbors.
If you hear a suspicious noise near your home, do not hesitate to walk outside and investigate.
A burglar rarely worries about breaking a window to get inside a home. Although most neighbors will stop and listen when they hear one loud noise, they usually will go back to what they were doing if they do not hear another noise.
Keep front doors and blinds closed in the evenings. Burglars love to walk neighborhoods and look inside to see if people have new, flat panel televisions, fancy sound systems or expensive furniture. Never post on Facebook or other networking pages or mention to people if strangers are around that you will be out of town at a certain time.
Cracking a window during the day to let in a little fresh air is simply an invitation to some thieves. If an intended victim fails to answer a knock on the door, a burglar may just walk inside. It could be that someone left and forgot to lock the door.
Locally, victims often have reported their purses being stolen from their kitchen tables while they are in another part of the house. Sometimes they heard a noise but they never stopped what they were doing to investigate.
Treviño said one of the mistakes he has seen too many times is people leaving expensive items like purses, cameras, cellular phones and other things out in the open in their cars.
He said when he was a patrolman, he would be called to investigate an auto burglary in a public parking lot and he would look in the other vehicles around the victim’s car and see purses left in every one of them.
Many victims of auto burglaries in Beeville were people who pulled up to the curb or into a driveway, got out and ran inside a home for a few minutes and left a purse, a wallet or some other valuable in plain sight in an unlocked car. When they got back minutes later, the items were gone.
Valuable items left even in a locked vehicle should be put in the trunk or under a seat, out of sight. And when you lock a purse in a trunk, look around first to make sure no one is watching.
Preventing thefts and burglaries is easy, if the intended victims are aware of what they are doing and using common sense.
Those tips and more will be offered at the Feb. 16 seminar.
Treviño is urging everyone to be there.