With clocks reset, time to check your doors, locks and lights

11/03/2013 1:56 PM

11/03/2013 2:27 PM

The end of daylight saving time isn’t just when folks should change their clocks, authorities say.

It’s also a good time to change the batteries in smoke alarms and check locks, doors, windows and lights.

With nights getting longer, burglars who prefer to work in the dark will be looking for opportunities to strike, police say.

“Make sure all the outdoor lighting works, locks are functioning and everything’s in good condition,” said Wichita police Lt. Joe Cutcliff, who oversees the burglary section. “Your doors and windows, make sure you can lock or secure them.”

Burglaries always spike in the lead-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, Cutcliff said, as thieves look for items they can pawn or sell for cash. That makes this an ideal time to conduct a safety check of your home and garage – and get into the habit of doing things that discourage burglars, he said.

That includes keeping your garage door closed and keeping things locked.

“Don’t give easy access to your house,” Cutcliff said.

Keeping outdoor lights on at night can discourage burglars because they won’t be able to get close without running the risk of being seen. It can also make it easier for neighbors to keep an eye on your property, he said.

“Stay aware of what’s around you,” Cutcliff said.

It’s also a good idea to leave a light on in the house even when you go out for the evening, he said.

“So people think you’re home” and not be tempted to break in, he explained.

Many burglaries happen during the day while people are off at work, making solid locks – and closed garage doors – important even then. Knowing your neighbors, including what vehicles they drive, is valuable because that makes it easier to spot suspicious activity or vehicles, Sedgwick County sheriff’s Deputy Mike Hollie said.

The most common mistake homeowners seem to make is leaving their garage doors open, he said.

“It’s the attitude of ‘Nothing’s going to happen to me and I’m not going to react until it does,’ ” Hollie said.

But keeping the garage door closed is as basic as putting purses and other valuables in the trunk when going holiday shopping.

Motion lights are the best deterrent at night, Hollie said, while audible alarms that sound when a door is opened are effective during the day. They aren’t linked to a call center the same way alarm systems are, but they can spook a burglar nonetheless.

Law enforcement officers will conduct free inspections to alert residents to features that make their homes vulnerable to burglars. The community liaison section of the Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 316-660-3920.

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