The Fairfax County Police Department is offering free home security assessments, performed by certified crime prevention officers, to help residents protect their homes against crime.
Statewide, burglaries increased 3.8 percent between 2021 and 2022, the first increase in burglaries in over a decade, according to the Virginia State Police. In Fairfax County, there were 680 reported incidents of burglary or breaking and entering in 2022, up from 559 in 2021.
And summer is a time when home security should be on your mind, according to FCPD Sgt. Jacob Pearce.
“Summertime is the time that I think homeowners need to be a little bit more vigilant, just because you know your neighbors will be on vacation, or you’ll be on vacation,” Pearce says.
“So there are definitely steps that you can take as a homeowner to reduce your risk of being a victim and increase the security of your home and also look out for your neighbors and give them the same kind of tips.”
These assessments are available to any Fairfax County residents. To set up an inspection, residents just need to call their local district police station to be connected with the crime prevention or community outreach unit and set up an appointment.
To conduct the assessment, the officer will use a home security checklist, provided by the National Crime Prevention Council. The checklist analyzes multiple factors, including the safety of the exterior doors, sliding doors, and windows, the lighting on the outside of the house, the security measures the homeowner takes when traveling, and whether personal property such as bicycles is adequately secured outside.
Some red flags that Pearce says untrained eyes might not pick up on are whether the screws on the deadbolt are properly secured and whether the property has adequate lighting such as motion-sensor lights or lights on timers.
The scope and duration of the assessment itself will vary depending on what the homeowner is comfortable with, Pearce says.
“Some people are only comfortable with an officer doing an assessment of the outside of the house, but if you’re willing to have the officer check the inside, check locks and things like that — doors, windows — then it could take a little bit longer,” he says.
Once the assessment is complete, it’s up to the homeowner to implement the changes that they see fit.
“Everybody has a different tolerance of, or preference on, what they might want to implement,” Pearce says. “But the job of our crime prevention officers and community outreach officers is to give the safety recommendations, and then it’s up to the homeowner to make those personal decisions themselves.”
FCPD also posted a blog with tips on how to prevent burglaries during vacation season, which included installing security cameras, asking a trusted neighbor to check on your home while you’re away, and not announcing travel plans on social media.
Feature image, reshoot/stock.adobe.com
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