While many people are out of work, in Mesquite it appears burglars are keeping fully employed in their trade.
According to Jeff Smith, the public information officer for the Mesquite Police Department, during the past six months, 31 burglaries or attempted burglaries have been reported in Mesquite.
At that rate, the 2012 burglary incidents will easily surpass the 51 total reports during 2011.
Smith warns these burglars are organized. They work as a team.
A lookout roams neighborhoods in a vehicle looking for easy things to steal left in the open, such as lawn mowers, barbecues or bicycles – things easily pawned or sold. Others are checking doors and windows looking for quick access into a home.
Prescription drugs are a preferred target, as well -- good reason not to discuss openly any medications you may have in your medicine cabinet. Keep your meds away from sight and locked up if possible.
Smith said residents should take basic prevention actions:
Make sure your home looks occupied and make sure it’s hard to break in. Lock your doors and windows before you leave or go to bed, and make sure those locks are secure; pushbutton door locks barely slow a burglar down. Install a deadbolt on outside doors.
Sliding glass doors are easily opened, but special locks are available. Some burglars have entered homes while the residents still were there.
Leave your lights on when you go out. If you plan an extensive trip, put your lights on a timer to make it appear someone is at home in the evenings. Keep your garage door closed and locked.
Have the post office hold your mail, and stop any regular delivery of newspapers or other items that can build up and advertise a vacant home. Make arrangements for someone to care for your lawn if you will be gone. Overgrown grass can attract burglars, as well.
Don’t leave notes on your door for friends or neighbors saying you’ll be gone for a while.
You must be concerned about the outside of your home, Smith advises. Have good exterior lights. Trim trees and bushes to reduce hiding places and hinges should be on the inside of doors.
A dowel on the inside track of a sliding window also helps, but locks can pin a window securely.
Alarm systems can provide the best peace of mind. And if you shop around, you’ll find the best system for your home at a price far more reasonable than the cost of replacing your valuables.
It’s also wise to keep receipts, serial numbers or photographs of your expensive purchases for insurance purposes in case a burglar does strike.
In that event, there are things you should do. If you come home and see signs of an entry, do not enter. The criminal may still be there. Call the police on a cell phone or from a neighbor’s.
Don’t touch anything until the police have inspected your home for evidence. And always note the license plates of suspicious vehicles in your neighborhood and descriptions of suspicious people.
Don’t try to hide keys to your front door. Burglars are adept at finding hidden keys.
Have your driver’s license number engraved on expensive items; it makes it harder for the thief to sell them and the police to return them if found.
Equally important is to be a good neighbor. Don’t be shy about calling 911 if you see suspicious people. Organizing a neighborhood watch also can help.
If you have questions about setting up a neighborhood watch program, contact Officer Craig Empey at (702) 346-526, ext. 6118.
And if you have any information on any burglary contact the MPD Investigative Services Division at (702) 346-5262, ext. 6032.
The police are there to enforce the law and investigate crimes. But your eyes and ears can be their best tool.