The surge in home break-ins in San Francisco has raised concerns among residents about how to stay safe or prevent their homes from being broken into. However, there are myriad steps residents can take to protect their homes.
Police and local residents suspect the coronavirus pandemic may be a reason for the spike in break-ins, as car break-ins have declined after housing orders and travel restrictions cleared the streets of tourists last March – frequent targets of break-ins. It is also difficult to arrest burglar suspects without physical evidence or eyewitnesses, police said.
In hard-hit San Francisco neighborhoods such as the Richmond and Marina neighborhoods, some residents have adopted a siege mentality and have come together to help each other secure their homes and garages.
Furlishous Wyatt, a security services manager at San Francisco SAFE, said most home break-ins can be categorized into one of three different scenarios, depending on whether a residence is occupied and whether a burglar is facing the resident.
San Francisco SAFE is a non-profit organization originally founded in 1976 as a project by the San Francisco Police Department. The organization provides crime prevention, education and public safety services.
Prior to the pandemic, Wyatt said there were frequent break-ins between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the day while residents were at work. The most recent break-ins have occurred during the night, although break-ins can still occur during the day.
According to Wyatt, these are the three types of home break-ins and how to stay safe:
When a burglar breaks into an unoccupied apartment:
• All doors leading into the house should be of strong, solid construction
• Glass windows that are within 40 inches of a door and its latch should be break-in resistant
• If you have a letter slot on your door, cover the slot from the inside so people cannot look directly into the house
• Wyatt recommends a 180-degree wide-angle door viewer and security camera
• Add extra locks to the external gates / entrance doors
• Secure all windows, even if they are above the floor
• Make sure you have adequate lighting; B. constant night lighting, supplemented by motion-sensitive lighting
• Always lock your bathroom window
• Secure skylights
• Make sure your address number is clearly visible so rescue workers can easily find your home
• Cut any bushes or trees blocking windows
• Use blinds throughout the house
• Take stock of your belongings with photos or videos
• Attend the local police gathering to give your home a face and meet your neighbors
• Have a trusted neighbor to check on your home when you are on vacation
If a burglar breaks into the garage while the house is occupied:
• Do not leave the garage door open when you are not there
• Add additional locking devices to the garage door
• Cover the garage door button
• Make sure the garage door is as strong as any other exterior door
• Report if anything has been stolen from your garage, regardless of the size of the property
When a burglar breaks into an occupied house and confronts the residents – – also known as a hot slump
• Create a “safe haven”, also known as a panic room with a landline phone. This can be a bedroom or a bathroom
• Set up an alarm system
Jessica Flores is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @jesssmflores