Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Staying Safe

Today, I'm stepping aside to share words of wisdom from professional organizer Cindy Bernstein. In her newsletter earlier this week, Cindy shared an unfortunate experience, one that has happened with frightening frequency in my area in the past few months, too. Her ideas for prevention are good, and I share them for the same reason she did -- in the hope they'll help someone else.

What I Wish I Had Known

On Monday morning, October 17th, we were the unfortunate victims of a burglary. At about 5:00 am, someone(s) entered our home through a back door and went into our kitchen and took my new iPhone, a special purse that was a surprise gift from my husband, along with all its contents, 3 key rings from family members and drove off in my husband's car. It was a surreal feeling to wake up to walk the dog and NOT see my charging phone on the counter or my husband's car in the driveway.
I try to keep the mindset that no matter what happens in life, there are always lessons to be learned and experience to be shared that will hopefully help the next guy out there. We are extremely grateful that we didn't see or hear the intruder and actually felt relieved that they got enough of our stuff to not feel the need to traipse through the house.
Here are my lessons learned:
  • Baltimore County offers a FREE security check (and I'm guessing most local police departments offer this service). Call your local police and let them come by. It only takes 30 minutes and they'll come as early as 6 am!
  • Do not leave your purse, your car keys or your cell phone in the kitchen. Carry them into your bedroom so they are not in plain view.
  • Take pictures of everything in your wallet. I was able to dig up my driver's license number by going online to my insurance account....but it would have been really sweet to just whip out a folder and have everything 'organized' and ready to contact. (I am a classic example of shoemaker's children in terms of this stuff). Thankfully, I had just cleaned out my purse and wallet the night before so I had a pretty good idea of what was in there. The MVA now lets you order a duplicate driver's license on line and they have overnight delivery for an extra $10. 
  • Get insurance on your cell phone. Because I had just gotten a new cell phone and had the insurance, I was able to get a new phone overnighted the next day. My home owner's insurance will cover the deductible on the phone.
  • Leave your outside lights on all night. Don't worry about saving energy. The policeman even suggested having timers on lights that can go on at random times throughout the day and night. The home burglaries are happening between 4 am - 6 am which really surprised me.
  • Turn on the burglar alarm at night and whenever you leave your home. This sounds like common sense, but due to too many accidental alarms going off, we stopped using our alarm. Not anymore.
  • Double lock all doors. Many bottom locks can be easily opened with a credit card. The policeman told us there is a product that you can place on your bottom handle that will prevent someone from opening the door from the outside. 
Please note - I am not trying to scare you or add to your anxiety. If you can step up your efforts just a little bit, you will be ok. The policeman said that these are crimes of opportunity - double check that all doors and windows are locked at all times and you'll significantly decrease your chances of being burglarized.

And P.S. - my husband's car was returned about 10 days later. There is some damage but not horrific. The detective reported that there was a person in the car when it was discovered and that person is now awaiting trial at the end of the month. I can't wait to meet him!

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