Five tips for students to avoid burglary

Ana Caklovic and Maya McNealis

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Palo Alto is safer than 68.5 percent of the cities in the United States, according to AreaVibes, a website that uses national data to determine the livability of a city. The crime rate in Palo Alto is lower than that of 80 percent of the cities in California, which gives Palo Alto an “A+” rating in the AreaVibes system. However, AreaVibes rates cities in comparison to each other, and despite acing the AreaVibes test, Palo Alto still isn’t perfect according to more local statistics.

According to the City of Palo Alto website, there were a total of 332 burglaries in Palo Alto in 2012 and 242 burglaries in 2013. The chance of being a victim of a property crime, or burglary, in Palo Alto is 1 in 46, and precautions should still be taken.

The Paly Voice interviewed Lt. Perron of the Palo Alto Police Department to compile five tips for students to protect themselves against burglary, whether they’re heading to practice or home alone for the weekend.

Listed below are five of Perron’s tips to avoid a burglary:

1. Leave everything locked:

Always lock your windows and doors. According to Perron, sometimes people leave doors unlocked because they assume Palo Alto is a safe community.

“Never leave a door or window open or unlocked,” Perron wrote in an email interview. “No matter how hot it may be or how short of a time you may be gone.” Perron said that the most common points of entry are often just “doors that people will leave unlocked or open, either intentionally, because they have a false sense of security living in a safe city like Palo Alto, or accidentally.”

2. Pretend you are home:

Perron suggests turning on some music or the TV before leaving the house or leaving the lights on so that the potential burglar thinks someone is home.

“They [the burglars] are looking for empty homes so they can break in, steal stuff real fast, and leave quickly with no chances of getting caught,” Perron said.

3. Use just one headphone:

When home alone, avoid studying while listening to music with headphones on, as you might not hear suspicious noises.

4. Beware the solicitor ruse:

The most common trick burglars use when trying to find out if someone is home is pretending to be a solicitor, according to Perron. Even if you don’t want to answer the door, talk to them through the door so they know someone’s home.

“Burglars don’t want confrontations, and they don’t want witnesses,” Perron said. Just knowing that someone is in the house is often enough of a deterrent for them.

5. Look out for your neighbors:

If you see an unfamiliar car drive aimlessly down your street, or a stranger ring the doorbell of a neighbor’s house and then walk around to the back, call the police. Chances are these are experienced burglars who are working their way through a neighborhood and may target your house next.

If you would like to learn more or have any questions, the Palo Alto Police Department has a media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Nextdoor, Nixle, YouTube, Flickr and will be launching an Instagram later this year. The PAPD also has a free mobile app for iOS and for Android.

A camera in a Palo Alto home captures two burglars breaking in. The video of this burglary has been shared on Facebook by the Palo Alto Police Department in an effort to catch the burglars. Photo courtesy of the PAPD.

A camera in a Palo Alto home captures two burglars breaking in. The video of this burglary has been shared on Facebook by the Palo Alto Police Department in an effort to catch the burglars.