According to the US Department of Justice, there were a little over 2 million burglaries nationwide in 2009. Sixty-one percent (61%) were forced entry and nearly 3 out of every 4 burglaries were committed against residential properties (i.e., house, townhome, apartment, etc…). Victims of burglary suffered an estimated a loss of 4.6 billion in lost property in 2009. Overall the average dollar loss per burglary was more than $2,000. In 2009, one-fourth of all persons arrested for burglary were under the age of 19.
In Amarillo, there were a reported 2,561 burglaries in 2009, 2,537 in 2010 with nearly 2,000 of them occurring against residential properties each year. Thieves are very likely to knock on the front door of a residence and if there is no response, they will kick in the front door right then and there. Most residential burglaries occur during the daytime hours when homeowners are at work. Homeowners should take extra precautions when securing their home. One suggestion would be to install a reinforced strike plate that takes 4 or 6 screws to secure, rather than the more commonly used 2 screw attached strike plate. Also consider using 3-4 inch screws to attach the strike plate. This in itself greatly increases the strength of your door and deadbolt.
There are generally three types of burglars: the professional, the semi-professional and the amateur. Although the average home owner will probably not have to face a professional thieves who focus on extremely valuable items, you need to be aware of the semi-professional and amateur burglars.
How to Protect Your Home
Overgrown or extremely large trees or shrubs can hide burglary activity, especially around your home entry points. For security sake, have them trimmed or moved.
Fences can be as effective part of your security, but they may be a liability in hiding a burglar's privacy. Tall chain linked, fences provide security without sacrificing visibility.
Dogs can also be a valuable asset to home owners. Any dog that bark at strangers brings unwanted attention to a thief. Larger dogs can even discourage an intruder from entering your yard or home.
Street lights are another important crime deterrent for your neighborhood, but personal residence should be well lighted. Porch lights and motion-sensitive lighting are recommended for most homes.
You do not want to help a burglar break into your home, so watch what you leave in your yard. Be sure to put tools away after you are done. Your own ladders, screwdriver, hammers, or pliers can be used against you.
The average burglar has only two options for entering your residence: doors and windows. For external door frames, opt for solid wood or steel. Hinges should be positioned on the inside of the door so that a thief with screwdriver will be unable to remove the entire door. Dead bolt looks are a necessary investment. Sliding glass doors are a common entry point. For maximum security, use vertical bolts. Also, place a solid wood rod on the inside track to hold the door closed.
Garage doors are another frequent entry point. The door that connects your garage to your home should have solid wood or solid core construction. Secure it with a deadbolt lock. Don't rely on the electric garage door opener as your security measure. When you are leaving, take a few seconds to watch the door close completely.
Back doors are a popular target because they are offer concealment from the street and owners leave them unlocked. It's important to keep your door well lighted and install a deadbolt. These doors should have a solid core as well.
All ground windows should have key-operated sash locks. Keep your windows closed and locked when you are away. Screen and storm windows should be securely fastened to the structure.
Upper windows should be secured and locked. Keep your second floor secured by trimming tree branches away from the house to prevent climbing, and do not store ladders where burglars can use them.
When you move into a new house, apartment or condominium, change all of the locks immediately. Because keys have a tendency to multiply, you don't know who will have access to your home.
Talk to your neighbors about your concern about burglary. Ask them to report any suspicious persons or activities around your home to your law enforcement agency. Alarms on doors and windows are the surest way to detect a burglar, but watchful neighbors alert to unusual activity who will notify law enforcement authorities are an effective means of detection.
Vacationers provide burglars with plenty of time to enter your home, remove large items and search leisurely for hidden valuables. If you are planning a vacation, take precautions to protect your home. The key is to create an illusion of everyday activity. Ask the police to check your home and patrol your neighborhood while you are away. Stop the mail and newspaper deliveries, or have your neighbor collect them while you are away. Secure all doors and windows, pet entrances and garage doors. Transfer all valuables to a safety deposit's box. Place a timer on indoor and outdoor lamps to illuminate your home at night, and make sure that no bulbs are burned out. Have a trusted friend or neighbor check your home each day. Never indicate on your phone answering machine that you are on vacation.
If you want advice or assistance for your home or your neighborhood, contact the Amarillo Police Department. Remember, crime prevention begins at home.
Drug Use and Gang Activity
Signs of Drug Use
Methamphetamines: "Wired," sleeplessness for days and weeks at a time, total loss of appetite, extreme weight loss, dialated pupils, excited, talkative, deluded sense of power, paranoia, depression, loss of control, nervousness, unusual sweating, shaking, anxiety, hallucinations, aggression, violence, dizziness, mood changes, blurred vision, mental confusion, agitation.
What is a Gang?
A gang is defined as an organization, association or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, which has a common name and/or common identifying signs or symbols, whose members individually and/or collectively engage in criminal activity.
Why Do Kids Join Gangs?
How Do Gangs Recruit Members?
Gangs influence youths into joining by using the following methods:
What Are The Consequences of Gang Involvement?
Short Term Consequences
Long Term Consequences
What Are Signs of a Gang in My Neighborhood?
Youths hanging out
Increase in crime- Gang-related acts such as burglary, vandalism and assaults.
How Can Neighbors Help?
You and your neighbors can work to eliminate gangs and drugs from your community and neighborhoods. They key is organization:
1) Get to know the neighbors on your block.
2) Contact your local law enforcement agency for advice and assistance for organization tips.
3) Contact Crime Stoppers
What Are Signs of Gang Involvement?
Changes in attitude or behavior
Openly admits gang affiliation
Showing colors (bandanas, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, ball caps)
Association with known gang members
Unwillingness to discuss their activities
Loss of family interest
Reluctance to be seen with other family members
Unexplained injuries (cuts and bruises)
Trouble with law enforcement or at school
Has unexplained cash or goods (clothing, jewelry, electronics)
Tattoos or graffiti-style writing on clothing or books
Disregard for persons or property
Exhibiting signs of alcohol and drug use
How Can Parents Intervene?
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