Holly Springs has a reputation among North Carolina when it comes to crime. Every year, on practically every list, it appears in the top 10 safest cities, often being in the top 5. However, the bigger Holly Springs becomes, the higher the exposure to the crime element.
Recently, property theft from both homes and cars has been the buzz on neighborhood facebook pages. The Holly Springs Police Department has been taking the time to visit and lecture at some of the local neighborhoods, to answer questions about these break-ins, and offer some ideas to help residents be just a little safer as individuals and communities. As safe as we may feel, this isn’t Mayberry, and locking doors is still the best way to prevent theft.
According to the HSPD, about 99% of the vehicle break-ins are in vehicles that are unlocked. That’s quite a statement. Aside from keeping your vehicle locked, there are other precautions that you can take.
Don’t leave valuables or cash in plain view. It only takes a few seconds to smash a window and grab a cell phone or laptop. Even leaving accessories out (like a gps holder) is an indicator that there could be more valuables in the vehicle.
Even if you think you’re just going to be away from the car for a few minutes, lock your doors. It’s easy to get distracted, and possible forget you left the car unlocked.
Park under a light if possible. It’s always better to park in an open or lit space, then it is to park someplace where the car is blocked from view by shrubs or other objects.
Make sure your windows and sunroof are closed.
If you’re the victim of a break-in. Call the police immediately, and don’t touch anything. The more you touch, the less evidence the police may be able to collect.
Something that has recently raised concerns is there have been a few residential thefts that have occurred. The HSPD followed up on the leads that they had, and feel that they have a very good idea that they know who was involved. As they honed in who they believed to be the culprits, the break-ins stopped.
At a recent public meeting at the Holly Glen clubhouse, Police Chief John Herring offered a lot of advice on how to stay safe, and things that you can do to help prevent being a victim, and even what to do in the unlikely event that you are.
Lock your doors – even when you’re home. Many of us lock our doors at night, or when leaving for the day, but not when you’re home. Don’t assume that a thief knows you’re home. The probability of someone coming into your home during the day if they know you’re there is low, but with your doors locked, it’s even lower.
Your back door is the most likely place to be broken into. There are a lot of reasons that the back door is favorable to a thief. The back door is usually out of sight from the street, and can often be out of sight from neighbors too. A thief at the back door can have ample time to work on getting into your house. A back door may even be able to be kicked in without being noticed by passerbys. There are some things that you can do to help secure your back door, and every outside door in your home.
Check your deadbolt. Many builders use short screws to attach the strike plate to the door frame. It’s hard to break a deadbolt, but it doesn’t take much force to open the door if it’s essentially just going into the wood trim around your door. It’s a simply fix. Get some 3-4 inch wood screws, and secure the strike plate properly.
If your dead bolt is near glass, there are some precautions you should take. If the dead bolt and handle both have a finger locks on the interior, it’s easy to break a window, reach in, and unlock the door. A dead bolt requiring an interior key, offers much more protection for obvious reasons. Once you have a keyed dead bolt, leaving the key in the lock won’t do you much good. It’s safer to keep the key out of the lock, but nearby in the even that you have to leave the house in an emergency. If you’re not comfortable doing these things yourself, call a local locksmith.
Don’t place a key someplace obvious. If you have to hide a key – don’t leave it under the mat.
If you have an alarm, use it. Again, many homeowners only use their alarm when on vacation or at night. You should use your alarm whenever you leave your house, even if just for the day. Setting the alarm when you leave the house may be an inconvenience, but if you think that’s inconvenient, consider the inconvenience you’ll go through as a victim of theft. Think about the phone call with your insurance company that’s giving you a discount on your policy due to your alarm system, and how that call is going to go when you tell them you want them to replace your stolen items; and your alarm was disarmed.
Inventory. You may think you have a good mental inventory of your home, until those items are gone. It’s a great idea to spend a couple of hours to inventory your home. Take photos and serial numbers of anything you think might need to be replaced if stolen. Thee have been countless stories of people having goods returned to them because they recorded the serial number of a stolen item. The police have databases that they use both nationally and locally to track stolen goods. Your chance of recovery with a photo, model number and serial number is much higher than if you just tell them that it was TV that you think was made by Magnavox and was between 35” and 45”.
Everyone has a different level of security that makes them comfortable. If you know anyone that has had their home broken into as some point in their life, they tend to be a little more security-conscious than someone that have never experienced it. As Pete Townsend once wrote “No one respects the flame quite like the fool who’s badly burned.”
There is no lack of security companies willing to install an alarm in your home. Watch the gimmicks and read the fine print. The length of time you plan to spend in the home could make the difference of who you decide to use. Often their job is to sell preying on your fears. Use common sense, and it may help to have a plan of what you want to spend, and what you want to protect before they get there. There are systems available that can be monitored from your phone remotely, and even systems where you can control your locks, lights and thermostat all from your phone. I’m not sure why you’d need your alarm to control your thermostat, but that’s what makes these purchases subjective.
Surveillance cameras have come down in price considerably. For about $300 – $400 you can buy a do-it-yourself system with 4 HD cameras with night vision, that record for the past 2 weeks on a built-in hard drive, and you can even log in remotely from anywhere you have internet (including your phone) to see the cameras, and even review footage. For a few dollars more, you can get 8 or 16 cameras and a system that will record up to a month and beyond.
If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, there are plenty of companies that install the systems.
Nothing is more important than your personal safety. If you see someone lurking around your home or a neighbors home, call 911. When you call 911 in Holly Springs, you’re calling the Holly Springs Police. Holly Springs has it’s own 911 call center, and again, Chief Herring likes to remind the residents, that’s what they’re there for. Give them as much information as you can gather while staying safe. The other tip is to stay on your property. If you see someone that you think is up to no good, once you leave your property, your rights change.
Again – when in doubt, call 911.