LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Building a privacy wall or railing around your home may increase the chances of your home getting burglarized. One expert offered tips on how to recognize the weak link in home security.
One Encino woman is still reeling from the repercussions of her home being broken into a year ago. She said she was watching TV when thieves broke in and stole her priceless jewelry and her sense of security.
“Every time I walk into my bathroom, I think about it. I’m scared,” she said. “I now have the blinds closed constantly.”
Geoff Manaugh is the author of “A Burglar’s Guide to the City.” He said curb appeal and security measures are not the only factors thieves consider when they pick their targets. Geography and architecture can also impact your risks.
“They find ways into our homes that we might not have predicted,” Manaugh said. “Every time you hide yourself from view, you’re also hiding from view anyone else that’s in the house.”
That means tall privacy walls or bushes, for example, may make it easy for burglars to take their time breaking in. Even a patio railing can tempt thieves because they can use it to climb up to the second floor, he said.
Detective Joe Alves with the Los Angeles Police Department said one local apartment building was burglarized a few weeks ago.
“You could easily scale that wall, jump over that small fence, and then they entered the balcony of this apartment unit,” said Alves. “I wouldn’t live in that apartment just because it gives such easy access.”
Security footage shows the burglars simply walked down the sidewalk at 8 p.m. with a stolen safe in hand, and no one noticed.
Manaugh said it is especially a problem in new developments because residents or tenants do not know each other, making it easier for potential thieves to blend in. Homes in new developments are often structured the same too. Once a burglar learns one, they know all of them, according to Manaugh.
Online floor plans and staged photographs may even help them plan a fast getaway. “That means you can see everything from where the light switches are to where the electricity box may be, to even what kind of locks are on the front door if they haven’t changed them when they moved in,” Manaugh added.
In the Hollywood Hills, the risk is a little different. Manaugh said winding roads and private drives may keep some burglars away, but it also makes it more difficult for police to navigate.
On the other hand, freeways can make for an easy getaway, which serial burglars call “stop and rob.” “You can pull off a freeway, you can rob a bank or business that’s at the bottom of an off-ramp, get right back on the on-ramp, and you can be in Burbank five minutes later,” Manaugh said.
While no location is 100 percent safe, he has some tips to protect your home:
- Evaluate your scalable privacy wall or large bushes. If you can climb it and hide behind it, it may be ideal for burglars.
- Get to know your neighbors and look out for each other.
- Use simple security measures such as alarms, cameras and lock all your doors and windows.
Alves said at least half the burglaries he responds to could have been avoided with the turn of a lock.