Crime Prevention Tips

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A house.Criminals look for easy targets. By taking simple precautions, you can make your home much more secure. Just contact the Sheriff's Department for a free brochure on home security, or for a courtesy security inspection. And follow these simple tips:

  1. Before leaving town, register for a free Vacation Home Check at City Hall, any weekday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. A community service officer will perform routine outside inspections of your home. If any of your doors or windows are found to be open, a deputy sheriff will respond and check the interior of your home.

  2. If you park your car on the street, in a parking lot or in your driveway, do not leave valuables, the key to your home or the garage door opener inside your car. Examples of valuables include your purse, wallet, check book and other important items. Park cars in a locked garage if possible.

  3. Be sure to lock your car with the windows completely closed and activate the vehicle alarm system, if applicable. During the hot summer months, people frequently leave their windows slightly open for ventilation. If you do, we recommend no more than one inch.

  4. If you are shopping, do not leave items inside your car visible through the windows. If you cannot take purchases home immediately, lock them inside your trunk.

  5. During the fall and spring, many of our residents like to leave their sliding glass doors or windows open to allow a breeze to flow through their homes. This is an open invitation to cat burglars to enter through these unlocked windows or doors and steal valuables while you are in another part of the house. When you leave a room for more then a few minutes, consider locking the sliding glass doors, and other doors and windows in that room.

  6. Lighting is the number one deterrent to burglaries. Exterior lights should remain on during the hours of darkness. Interior lights should be turned on during the evening hours when you are away, using timers to vary the lighting pattern. This makes it appear you are home which discourages burglars from attempting to enter your home. Do not leave interior lights on after you go to bed. Lights on in your home after normal bedtime hours can be an indication that no one is home. Additionally, we recommend installing and utilizing motion lights around your home that illuminate automatically when someone enters your property. It’s important to have motion detections lights mounted high enough on your home to prevent someone from removing the light bulb.

  7. During nighttime hours, cat burglars are most active when you retire for the evening; lock all doors and windows in other parts of your home. A sliding glass door in your bedroom should be locked and windows may be opened with caution.

  8. If you have a burglar alarm, set it before retiring for the night and when you go out. Remember to arm your bedroom and if the alarm has an audible outside bell, set it.

  9. Garage doors should be fully closed when not in use. Too many residents have been victimized when they leave garage doors open or the side doors to the garage unlocked. During the hot summer months, residents frequently leave their garage doors open a few inches for ventilation purposes. If you do so, we recommend leaving it open no more then 4" to 6" so that no one can crawl under the door.

  10. Install motion-activated lights in your front and back yards, so when someone approaches your home, the lights automatically come on.

  11. Don't leave a key under a doormat, in a flowerpot or on the ledge of the door. Those are the first places burglars look.

  12. Keep your front entry visible from the street so security patrol cars have a clear view. If you plant shrubs around your windows, choose small, thorny varieties. Shrubbery makes good hiding places.

  13. While you are away from your home for short periods of time or during the summer months, have your family or neighbors pick up your mail and newspapers. Consider having mail and/or newspapers temporarily suspended or re-routed to your summer location.

  14. If you don't have a locking mail box, we strongly recommend you get one. Never leave mail in unlocked mail box with the red flag up. That is a sure sign to mail thieves that there may be checks, credit card information or other identifying information in your outgoing mail. Mail theft and identity theft are increasing in the Coachella Valley and nationwide.

  15. Install a lens viewer (peep hole) in your solid front doors. Never open the door without knowing who is outside. If someone blocks the viewer or ducks out of sight, call 911.

  16. Know your neighbors and the vehicles they drive. If you see a suspicious person or vehicle in your neighborhood or around your business, call 911. For example, someone is looking into vehicles or at houses and businesses for no apparent reason or if you hear suspicious sounds (like pounding or glass breaking). Get a description of the person or persons, license plate number and tell the 911 operator of the suspicious person's direction of travel. Additionally, the Sheriff's Department's non-emergency number is 760.836.3215, and press option #5. The Sheriff's Department would rather check someone out than risk your harm or loss of property. You'll be helping public safety professionals, not bothering them!

  17. Dead Bolt Locks: Dead bolt locks should be installed and utilized in doors. We recommend that the dead bolt have a combination of a half-inch throw deadlocking latch and one inch throw dead bolt with a concealed steel roller that resists sawing or prying. A high security or reinforced strike plate with at least 2 screws should be used to mount the strike plate into the door frame. The screws must go all the way through the frame into the king stud. Consult a licensed locksmith for assistance with installation.

  18. Final Tip: If you call 911 from your cell phone, you will be connected to a California Highway Patrol dispatcher. Riverside County Sheriff's Department's 911 number when using your cell phone is 951.776.1278. We recommend saving this number in your cell phone with 911 as the description or in the cell phone’s “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) file.