Burgled Juneau: How to make it difficult for a burglar to enter your place and take your stuff

Juneau resident David Noon resets the chain on the back door of his home. When his place was burglarized in October, the chain was not set and the burglar was able to kick in the door because the deadbolt lock did not fully extend into the door jamb. The door, door jamb, and the deadbolt have since been repaired.

Juneau resident David Noon resets the chain on the back door of his home. When his place was burglarized in October, the chain was not set and the burglar was able to kick in the door because the deadbolt lock did not fully extend into the doorjamb. The door, doorjamb, and the deadbolt have since been repaired. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

As part of an ongoing series focusing on the recent spike in burglaries in Juneau over the last several years, we briefly look at some of the basic and most effective preventative measures.

Listen to the broadcast story about documentation and preventative measures:

 

“We’re really having to amp up our game in order to be secure in our homes,” said Juneau resident Rosanne Schmitz. Her place wasn’t burglarized, but a neighbor’s home was.

“I had a neighbor here, they went across the street to a party and – unbeknownst to them – their backdoor was left open, two men entered their house, went upstairs looking for something, came to a bedroom and their daughter was in bed,” Schmitz said. “Now, fortunately, they didn’t want have an encounter with a person. So they left, but grabbed a laptop on their way out. Nobody wants their child to be vulnerable.”

Sadly, the days of leaving your doors unlocked in Juneau are long gone.

That’s probably the biggest and most-valuable tip: Make sure all of your doors and windows are locked before you leave the house.

Composite picture of how plates installed on a door (left) and a door jamb (right) can prevent someone from using a credit card or driver's license to open a locked door.

Composite picture of how plates installed on a door (left) and a doorjamb (right) can prevent someone from using a credit card or driver’s license to open a locked door. (Photos by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Burglars usually try to enter homes during the day after everyone leaves for work or school. They usually enter businesses at night.

A dowel or old broom handle cut to length and placed in the track of a sliding glass door can prevent a burglar from forcing the door open.

A dowel or old broom handle cut to length and placed in the track of a sliding glass door can prevent a burglar from forcing the door open. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Amy Dressel, whose home was burglarized in February, said she and her mother learned that they really didn’t have a good list of valuable items and where they were located.

“That was a good learning thing to figure out what exactly what you have, where,” Dressel said. “Other things that (are) good to do is take pictures of things that you think (are) valuable so that you can have that for later on, for showing police as well as the insurance.”

Dressel said it’s also a good idea to have your valuables appraised so you know how much they’re worth.

“Check with your insurance and see if it’s on your insurance rider,” Dressel said. “There’s often things you have to have in addition to insurance. If it’s extra valuable besides just the house valuable type of thing. So, if there’s things like jewelry or coins, or stuff like that, too, you need to have it listed separately.”

Juneau police Detective Benjamin Beck recommends storing all that information on a thumb drive hidden from a burglar or in another place that’s completely inaccessible to them.

Keeping a list of serial numbers of all your valuables like electronics and firearms can help with the prosecution of burglars and speed return of your items if they are ever recovered.

Keeping a list of serial numbers of all your valuables like electronics and firearms can help with the prosecution of burglars and speed return of your items if they are ever recovered. (Photo illustration by Matt Miller/KTOO)

“It’s very easy to document your belongings in this day and age,” Beck said. “If you have a cell phone, you can easily take pictures of your guns, take pictures of the serial numbers, take pictures of your unique jewelry items. They can be stored on the cloud or on Google Drive, or uploaded to an external hard drive. If you have a camera, you can do that. Put it on a SIM card. Put your SIM card someplace safe where you not going to lose that SIM card. So, not in your safe that somebody is going to steal.”

And, if possible, find a way to uniquely mark your valuables. It can help speed their return if they’re ever recovered, Juneau police Lt. Scott Erickson said. It can also help officers and prosecutors make their case against a burglar.

Many house alarm systems emit a piercing alarm or notify first responders in the event of a burglary or fire.

Many house alarm systems emit a piercing alarm or notify first responders in the event of a burglary or fire. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

“We have to be able to charge a case to get it to go to court. And to get it to go to court in a criminal setting, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. So, just saying that this set of headphones that you’re wearing on your neck right now were stolen, they’re marked with KTOO,” said Erickson as he points to equipment used by a radio reporter. “I might be able to trace those back and say ‘OK. They stole them.'”

When it comes to making sure that your place is less inviting to burglars, common sense advice includes leaving some lights or a radio on if you leave the house. Stop your mail or newspaper delivery if you head out-of-town and don’t have a housesitter. And, never announce on Facebook or other social media that you’re on your way to Europe for that long-planned vacation.

As for deterring burglars, Beck said properly installed alarms, cameras, and motion-activated lights all work.

Working exterior lights and camera surveillance systems can deter burglars or help with their identification in the event of a break-in.

Working exterior lights and camera surveillance systems can deter burglars or help with their identification in the event of a break-in. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Even Buddy, Lady or any other four-legged friend can be an eager and willing ally in protecting your space.

“A dog, I think, is a great burglary deterrent, probably the best,” Beck said. “If I put myself in the mindset of a burglar and I go knock on a door to see if anybody’s home, checking to see if it’s a safer house for me to burglarize, let’s say, and a dog starts barking inside, I’m going to move on.”

Beck also emphasizes that it’s important to talk to your neighbors about keeping an eye out for each other’s property, become active in your own neighborhood association, and sign up for email lists or Facebook pages about things happening in your neighborhood.

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