Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention in Your Home

Crime prevention in and around your home is essential. If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge? You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can break in, so can a burglar!

One out of six homes will be burglarized this year. For a small amount of time and money you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of being a victim. Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds to try breaking into a home. Good locks, and good neighbors who watch out or each other, can be big deterrents to burglars.

Crime Prevention Presentations

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) Crime Prevention Officer can:

  • Show how to protect your home.
  • Show how to protect your neighborhood.
  • Show how to protect your car.
  • Explain how to avoid falling prey to scam artists.
  • Provide safety awareness tips.

Home Security Checklist (PDF)

Home Security Do's and Don'ts

Check the Locks

Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply walk in through unlocked doors or crawl through unlocked window?

Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Doorknob locks alone are not enough.

Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.

Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.

Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.

When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.

Check the Doors

A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.

All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.

If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don't keep out intruders.

Check the Outside

Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips:

Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.

Keep your yard clean. Cut back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows. Also cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upper-level window.

Clearly display your home address number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.

If you travel, create the illusion that you're at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on an off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal empty house.

Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And don't let your mail pile up! Call the post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.

Make a list of your valuables - TVs, firearms, computers, jewelry. Take photos of the items and list their serial numbers and descriptions. And if possible, engrave your valuables with your Driver's License Number.

Consider an Alarm

Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history of break-ins.

Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established company and check references before signing a contract.

Learn how to use your system properly! Don't "cry wolf" by setting off false alarms. People will stop paying attention and you'll probably be fined.

Some less expensive options... a sound-detecting socket that plugs into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain noises, motion-sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches, or lights with photocells that turn on when it's dark and off when it's light.

Burglars Do More Than Steal

Burglars can commit rapes, robberies, and assaults if they are surprised by someone coming home or if they pick a home that is occupied.

If something looks questionable - a slit screen, a broken window, or an open door - don't go in. Call the police from your cell phone.

At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call 911. If you can't leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call 911.

There's More You Can Do

Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, consider starting one in your neighborhood.

Work with neighbors to organize community clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.

View more tips on vehicle theft prevention and child internet safety.