No one wants to feel unsafe in their own homes, but that’s the feeling many victims of property crimes experience following a burglary, theft, or other form of vandalism. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 15.6 million property crimes on U.S. households in 2009, the most recent year for which figures were released.
What is Property Crime
Property crime is the unlawful taking of property or money that does not involve threatening or using force on the victim. Property crime encompasses motor vehicle thefts; arson; larceny and theft; burglary; electronic crimes like identity theft; vandalism; and white collar crimes, such as scams and fraud. Generally, property crimes are committed to obtain high-valued items, such as money, cars or much sought after automotive parts, electronics, cameras, jewelry and power tools.
The National Crime Victimization Survey found that theft is the most common property crime, with motor vehicle theft the most frequent property crime reported to police.
Home Security Measures
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, there are numerous measures individuals can take to safeguard their home, condo, or apartment from property crime. These efforts focus on exterior doors, windows, outdoor security and personal property. Among the tips offered by the National Crime Prevention Council in its home security list are: installing alarms or a home security system; using motion-sensor lighting; installing deadbolt locks on all exterior doors; hanging blinds, shades, or other types of window treatments to prevent people on the outside from seeing what’s inside your home; parking your motor vehicles in the garage or using anti-theft measures like a steering column lock, removable car radio, or immobilizer for off-street overnight parking; removing all personal belongings, laptops, portable GPS systems and packages from your car; securing other structures, like garages and sheds, with padlocks; locking up bikes, lawn mowers, grills, power tools and other valuables after each use; and obtaining proper identification before opening your door to anyone you don’t know, even if you scheduled an appointment with a service or delivery company.
Securing Sensitive Information In Your Home
You might think that your personal documents and information are safe in your home, but they’re not if you have them easily accessible in a drawer for a thief to find. Identity theft is not just an online crime; it could stem from criminals getting your personal information off mail you throw away, stealing mail out of your mailbox, or finding personal documents when committing a property crime. The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers to take these important steps to protect their personal information at home:
* Shred all mail that contains your name, address, or other personal identifying information. This includes credit card offers, bank and credit card statements, and sweepstakes or special offers that display your personal information.
* Keep your Social Security card, passport, financial information, PIN numbers and other valuable, personal identifying data locked up in a safe.
* Protect your computer with a firewall and software that prevents against computer viruses and spyware.
* Etch identification numbers onto all your electronics and other valuable equipment so they are easy to identify if stolen. Many local police departments offer this service.
* Protect yourself with credit monitoring.
* Create and maintain an inventory list of all your valuables and keep it secure in a safe deposit box or home safe. The personal inventory list can be created on a computer, complete with photos, and saved to an external storage device, or recorded using a video camera and saved to a DVD.
Property crime is often a crime of opportunity, but you can remove that opportunity by securely protecting your home and property.