The Toledo police knew it was coming: just like other jurisdictions all over the US, they anticipated the spike in burglaries that arrives with the holidays. It took just one November break-in to bring the topic of home security back into focus, and here’s the story of that sad event:
Eric Grel was running errands when thieves cut through the glass of a rear door and ransacked the home he shares with his wife, Jodi, and their three young children. The oldest son, 10, laughed at first and wondered where his dad had hidden the flat-screen television that once hung over the fireplace. Their youngest child, 6, started shaking when he realized his Xbox game system was gone. Crying, their 8-year-old daughter clutched her favorite stuffed toy. “She said, ‘They took my Wii but they didn’t get Fat Teddy.” Mr. Grel spoke over the buzz of a new alarm system as a technician finished the installation at their home in East Toledo.
This theft took place just last month, and served as a reminder of what happens every year around this time. And the fact is, burglars tend to steal the same items, over and over.
An Ugly Trend
Authorities are bracing for an increase in burglaries and car break-ins known to come with the holiday shopping season. November is already shaping up to be busier than expected for thieves and property-crime investigators alike, Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre said. “They’re stealing it because somebody’s buying it,” said Toledo police Lt. Dave Schmidt. “Years ago if you’re selling a flat-screen out of your backseat for 100 bucks, nine out of 10 people would say, ‘No.’ Now, six out of 10 people say, ‘I’ll give ya $75.’” At the Grel residence, thieves got away with three flat-screen televisions, three purses, five game systems, 30 video games, and Mrs. Grel’s cell phone. The worst of it was losing the laptop computer Mr. Grel used for his classes at the University of Toledo.
What You Can Do
What’s clear is that it often takes more than a lock and key to keep burglars away. Many will break windows or kick in front doors to get inside, police said. Alarm systems, well-lighted yards, and a series of locked doors can help. Make it harder for crooks by putting a locked storm door between an outsider and your locked front door, Lieutenant Schmidt suggested.
A Sobering Reminder
The Grel family was robbed of more than stuff — their sense of safety is gone. The children refused to sleep in the house the evening of the burglary, and Jodi Grel ordered their first home security system the next day. “It’s not happening at night like people think,” Mrs. Grel said. “This is broad daylight that this is happening. Neighbors have to watch out for each other. They’re going to break into your house too.”
The holiday burglary phenomenon is nothing new – that’s why FrontPoint posted recently on the Top 10 Home Security Tips for the Holidays. We’re glad to see the Toledo police recommending alarm systems: not just installing them, but using them on a regular basis. And of course it makes sense to get a wireless home alarm with cellular monitoring, with Crash & Smash protection. It’s also refreshing to see the reference to being a good neighbor. Good home security precautions make a difference all year, but are especially important when burglars are on the prowl. Do yourself a favor, and keep the “Happy” in “Happy Holidays.” What steps do you take to increase your peace of mind this time of year?