May 14, 2012 - Here’s a simple and cheap idea that could persuade a burglar not to mess with your home: Put a big, dog’s water bowl at your back door or near the driveway at the front. Keep it half-full and occasionally wash it out so algae doesn’t grow.
And you don’t even have to own a dog. But it will give the impression a big canine is inside.
That’s one of the tips Capt. Charles Borchers says can be easily done by any resident as a precaution against crime. Borchers can be reached at (504) 278-7828 to receive crime prevention tips, form a Neighborhood Watch group in an area or register for the next Sheriff’s Office free Citizens Police Academy classes.
Borchers, director of Crime Prevention for the Sheriff’s Office, shared numerous safety recommendations for residents during the sheriff’s free lecture program called “Refuse to be a Victim,’’ held May 9 at Nunez College in Chalmette.
Sheriff-elect James Pohlmann, who takes office July 1, began the free program a year ago and the series has been given twice.
“Capt. Charles Borchers is an expert on crime prevention and residents should contact him to get involved in free programs he heads,’’ Pohlmann said.
Most of Borchers’ ideas involve advice in areas including what types of locks are the best for protecting homes and businesses – he recommends double cylinder deadbolt locks with large screws put an inch into a large, solid frame so a door can’t be easily kicked open.
He also suggests video surveillance cameras for those who can afford them, light-timers, alarm systems and motion lights as anti-crime strategies at home and businesses.
Borchers cautioned to never leave garage openers in a vehicle parked in a driveway because once a burglar gets into a garage they have privacy and easy access to get into the home.
He also emphasized to the audience, “You have to have a mental plan of action’’ at home or when traveling to be on alert for potential criminals.
As an example he asked audience members what they would do if they are alone at home and someone came to the door saying they had a package for them to sign for but their delivery truck wasn’t visible nearby. Should they open the door?
The best recommendation would be to ask the person to leave the paper to be signed at their door and go across the street while the resident opened the door to sign it, Borchers said.
What if a stranger came to the door and said they needed to use a phone because there had been an accident. Tell them you will dial the number for them without them coming inside, unless they are with someone you know, he said.
Borchers also told participants, “Never leave empty boxes out in front of your home for garbage pick-up because it advertises what new items people have bought and have inside their residence.” Instead, he said, cut up boxes and place them inside plastic bags and put the whole thing in your mini-dumpsters.
When out, easily purchased pepper spray with a clip is available so that it can be kept on a safety belt in a vehicle or inside a purse, Borchers said. Even a loud whistle on a key chain is a good idea for people to have for personal protection.
If someone wants to carry a gun in their vehicle it’s legal as an extension of your residence, Borchers said, but to carry it outside on your person a permit is required, as well as weapons safety training by a certified instructor.
When parking a vehicle at a shopping center don’t settle for the first parking spot. If at night, find one with the best lighting available and look around for suspicious people before getting out or going back to the vehicle, he said.
If going on a trip out of town on business or vacation, never leave a message on your phone telling people you will be away and don’t forget to stop delivery of newspapers and arrange to have a neighbor or friend pick up mail if possible.
While in another state or city be extra cautious in noticing your immediate environment before parking and be careful about carrying suit cases and cameras that mark you as a tourist. Also, be careful about others lurking in hotels and in the areas of motels you stay at. When driving around in a rental vehicle toss a cap in the back window from one of the area’s sports teams so you look like a local, Borchers said.
“Just use common sense.’’