Peninsula a Huge Target.
Despite what you may have read about the resurgence of our micro-economy between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, not everyone in the Bay Area is basking in the glow of a healthy high-tech job market and a strong stock market. The chasm between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” is producing a growing number of desperate people who are resorting to more and more brazen acts to get money – namely home burglaries — and the Peninsula is proving to be fertile hunting grounds.
And why not? As the economy and job market here continue to improve, so does consumer confidence. And when consumer confidence rises, spending increases — not only on high-ticket items like homes and cars, but also consumer electronics and other durable goods. And the bad guys out there know this as all too well.
Last week, KCBS radio reported on a rash of residential burglaries that have taken place in the Shoreview neighborhood of San Mateo. In these cases, burglars are posing as people from utility companies or services to look for properties that are not occupied. What’s most important to take away from this report that this uptick in residential burglaries is not restricted to San Mateo. The mode of operation may not necessarily be the same, but San Carlos is definitely feeling the effect of increased home break-ins.
It Hits Home.
In the past 3 months, two of my clients have had their San Carlos homes burglarized. The most recent case occurred on a Saturday evening — my clients had just gone to downtown San Carlos for a couple of hours to have dinner and relax. When they came back, they discovered with horror that their home had been ransacked and burglarized — in just that short window of time.
In both cases, the homes were completely locked down. The thieves gained access by prying a locked window open. Jewelry and small electronics were clearly targeted because they can be quickly converted into cash. And what was particularly surprising about both of these burglaries is that they occurred on relatively busy streets, which one would assume would be a deterrent to burglars. But that clearly doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.
Old Rules Aren’t Enough.
The time-worn advice like “lock your doors and windows” or “leave a few lights on” is clearly no longer slowing down these brazen thieves. The bottom line is that if they want to get into your house badly enough, they will — almost regardless of what you do to protect it. There were two takeaways that I got from talking with both of my friends after their respective incidences:
- Get irreplaceable items out of the house. Some things simply can’t be replaced by a check from the insurance company. Things that carry huge sentimental value like heirloom jewelry should never be kept in the house, unless you have a safe that is hidden and secured to the structure. A safe deposit box at a local bank is a very inexpensive and secure solution.
- Minimize the Impact. Electronics are high on thieves hit list because of their quick and easy resale. TV’s and DVR’s can be easily replaced. But the loss of a computer or smart phones is much more damaging because of the loss of the data that’s on them — your documents, digital pictures, music, etc.. There are many software programs available now that allow you to back up all of your files securely into the cloud. It’s not practical to pack up every computer in your house whenever you decide go out, so minimize the impact of them getting stolen in the event that it happens. Also consider looking into password-protecting all of your devices to reduce the risk of sensitive data being breached.
In the end, it’s really about making your house as unattractive as possible to thieves in the first place.
It’s the World We Live In.
It’s sad to say, but these burglaries will continue to happen — the numbers are clearly in favor of the thieves and NOT the homeowners in San Carlos. The Sheriff’s Department is doing a fantastic job following up on these crimes, and in some cases catching the perpetrators. But there is simply not enough law enforcement available to adequately canvas an entire city against this type of random crime, and the thieves know this.
The days of San Carlos being a sleepy bedroom community where you can leave your doors unlocked are gone forever. It is now replaced by a constant heightened awareness and vigilance not only of your own home, but your surrounding neighborhood.
Sad, but true.
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