Tips: Home, Neighborhood Safety

Crime rates are falling. Many people who were once driven inside their homes, behind locked doors, are back sitting on their porches, enjoying their parks, and walking to their corner stores. It’s not like that everywhere of course, but progress has been made.

According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice, total personal property crime has declined from a high of 553.6 incidents per 1,000 households in 1975 to just 161.1 incidents per 1,000 in 2004 -- and it bottomed out at 159 in 2002. Burglary was down from 111.8 incidents per 1,000 households in 1974 to a low of 27.7 incidents per 1,000 in 2002. Theft was also down, from a high of 424.1 incidents per 1,000 households in 1975 to just 122.8 in 2004.

While crime is still cause for very serious concern, our homes and communities are safer than they’ve been in decades, and this is quite likely due, at least in part, to the twin pillars of prevention and community policing.

The National Crime Prevention Council offers crime prevention and personal safety tips to help keep you and your community safe from crime.

  • Organize neighborhood cleanup days to send the message that your community is closed to thieves, vandals, and loiterers.
  • Ask the police to increase patrols of your neighborhood.
  • Sponsor a Neighborhood Watch.
  • Be sure the outside doors of your home or business have strong deadbolt locks.
  • Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby shopkeeper, not under a doormat or planter, on a ledge, or in the mailbox.
  • Lock gates, garage doors, and shed doors after every use.
  • Illuminate or eliminate places an intruder might hide: the spaces between trees or shrubbery, stairwells, alleys, hallways, and entryways.
  • Set timers on lights when you’re away from home or your business is closed so it appears to be occupied.
  • Keep your bike and sports equipment inside the house when they’re not in use.
  • Avoid confrontations with burglars.

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