A POLICE CHIEF WRITES: Burglars are especially active this time of year, warns acting Teaneck Police Chief Robert A. Carney, who offers some sound advice:
“First and foremost, be alert. Be aware of suspicious vehicles circling the area or parked on the block. Be aware of suspicious people approaching your neighbor’s front door, driveway or rear yard on foot.
“Burglars typically knock on your front door or ring the doorbell before they break into your house. If they don’t get an answer, they’ll force their way in through a door or window.
“If you answer the door for a burglar, they will typically make up a story such as:
‘I’m looking for ‘[NAME].’ Sorry, I must have the wrong house.”
‘Would you like me to rake your leaves?’
‘Would you like me to shovel your snow?’
‘My car broke down; can I use your phone?’
‘Is that car in your driveway (or your neighbor’s driveway) for sale?’
“If this happens to you, call police. It could be a burglar. The bottom line is: If it seems weird, it probably is.
“Burglars are known to impersonate utility workers and once inside can distract you by asking you to turn on faucets or electric switches on another floor of the house. Once you’re distracted, it allows them to snoop around and steal money and jewelry.
“Ask to see their ID BEFORE you open your door. If unsure, call the police and we’ll confirm it for you.
“Make sure to check that your windows and doors are locked after you have any hired help in the house. Although most are honest, some have been known to unlock a window or a door that is infrequently used, only to come back later with easy access to your home.
“Watch each other’s houses if you know someone will be away. If you know the house should be vacant and someone is walking on the property, call the police. It could be your house that’s burglarized next.
“If you see something suspicious, it is extremely helpful to us if you write down a license plate number and note descriptions of people that you observe.
“Some other tips:
• Social media sites like Facebook are a great way to connect with family and friends, but they’re also a great way to tell a burglar that you’re not home. Don’t post comments on social media sites that announce that you’re on vacation or away for the day.
• Burglar alarms are good, but audible burglar alarms are best. There can be too much of a delay for police response for silent burglar alarms and burglars don’t like the attraction of audible alarms.
• Try to keep the house looking occupied. Don’t let newspapers and mail pile up (or parcels during the holiday season). Keep exterior lights and a couple interior lights on, or even a TV, all of which can be put on timers.
• In addition to a good quality door lock, attention should be made to reinforcing the door frame, particularly where the lock enters the frame. This is the part of the door that typically fails when forced open. A contractor experienced in security can assist you in that regard.
• Avoid keeping valuables in obvious places, such as bedroom drawers, jewelry boxes, closets, etc. Safes can help, but they should be hidden, preferably not in the bedroom, and secured to the floor/wall with lag bolts.
• “Keep quality photos of all valuables. In the event that something is stolen, photos will help us to recover the valuables and identify them as yours. It also helps us to disseminate them to other agencies.