Home Security Check Program

Home Security:

Burglary is mostly a crime of opportunity that capitalizes on the carelessness and neglect of the homeowner or renter. This section contains tips on preventing home burglaries, vandalism, and other property crimes by controlling access, providing visibility, and maintaining your property. These tips significantly enhance the security of your home and property.

Home Alarm Systems:

• Alarm systems usually include one or more of the following components: photocell or magnetic contacts on doors and windows, heat or motion detectors in interior spaces, glass break detectors, keypads with a means of checking the status of the system, and audible alarms. All equipment should be routinely serviced to maintain good working order.

• Get alarm company references from friends or neighbors. Get at least three estimates in writing. The Hillsborough Police Department does not prefer or recommend companies, brands, or types of security systems.

• If your system is monitored, make sure the monitoring station is open 24/7 and has backup power. The company’s customer service department should also be open 24/7.

• Make sure you understand your service contract, all the points of protection and the equipment to be installed, the initial and monthly payments, and the warranty period.

• Inform your insurance company. You may qualify for a discount.

• The system should also have a fail-safe battery backup. Check the batteries periodically and replace them if necessary.

Controlling Access:

The following tips suggest how access to your home can be controlled by physical protection, deterrent measures, burglar alarms, and various security procedures.

• Install single cylinder dead-bolt locks on all doors. Bolts should have a minimum throw of 1 inch. Strike plates should have screws that are at least 3 inches long. Doors should be solid hardwood or metal clad. Hinges should be located on the inside or have non-removable pins. Special locks are need on double and Dutch doors.

• Install locking devices on all sliding glass doors and windows.

• Install good locks on all doors that lead outside through garages or storage areas.

• Do not rely solely on chain locks for security.

• Re-key or change all locks when moving into a new home.

• Install locks on gates, garages, sheds, etc.

• Consult with a locksmith or hardware store for advice on quality locks.

• All locks should be resistant to “lock bumping.” Lock bumping is a lock picking technique for opening a pin tumbler lock using a specially crafted bump key. A bump key must correspond with the target lock in order to function correctly.

• Reinforce the glass in windows on the lock sides of doors so a burglar cannot break them and reach in to open the door.

• Consider installing security bars on side, rear, or other windows that a burglar might break to enter your home. Bars must comply with Fire Code requirements for inside release to permit an occupant to escape in the event of a fire.

• Fence in the yard.

• Install a good side-yard gate and keep it locked at all times. Side and back entries are the most common access points for burglars as they are out of sight.

• Plant bushes with thorns or prickly leaves near windows and along fences.

• Trim trees so that limbs don’t provide access to roofs, second stories, etc.

Deterrent Measures:

• Place Neighborhood Watch, alarm company, and Operation ID stickers on entry doors and windows. If you’re alarm is monitored by the Hillsborough Police Department we offer HPD alarm stickers can be obtained from our communications center. Please call 650-375-7470 for more information.

• Consider owning a dog that barks/alerts when people are near the home.

• Use fencing, gates, landscaping, pavement treatment, signs, etc. to define clear boundaries between your property and adjoining properties.

Security Measures:

• Keep all doors and windows locked, even if you are leaving them home for a short amount of time.

• If a window is left open a few inches for ventilation, pins or dowels should be inserted in the tracks to prevent someone from opening it more.

• Lock gates, garages, and sheds after each use.

• Store bicycles, mowers, ladders, etc. in a locked garage or shed, or secure them to some stationary point.

• Do not leave notes on your door when you are away from home.

• Do not leave keys in mailboxes or planters, under doormats, or in other obvious hiding spots. Leave an extra key with a trusted neighbor or with the Hillsborough Police Department.

• Learn to recognize who belongs in your neighborhood (i.e., residents, workers, guests, etc.)

• Be suspicious of persons making unsolicited offers of services.

• Post a NO SOLICITING sign if you don’t want any solicitor to ring your door bell, knock on your door, or make any other sound to attract your attention.

• Ask for photo identification before letting in anyone you don’t know. Check out the identification with the company or agency if you are suspicious.

• Never let a stranger enter your home to use the telephone, restroom, or any other reason. Offer to make the call yourself in an emergency.

• Do not give your name, phone number, or whereabouts on your answering machine message. Never say you are not home. Just ask the caller to leave a message.

• Do not leave your home keys on a chain with your vehicle keys when you use valet parking. Also, do not leave your garage door opener where it is easily accessible. Keep your vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and any other papers with your home address on them where a criminal is not likely to find them.

• Call 911 if you are at home and think someone might be breaking in.

• Do not take direct action yourself. Police Officers will be dispatched to your address even if you cannot speak or hang up.

• Do not go in or call out if you return home and suspect someone has broken into your home, e.g., if a window or screen is broken, a door is ajar, or a strange vehicle is parked in the driveway. Go to a neighbor’s home and call the Hillsborough Police Department.

• Do not discuss your assets or finances with strangers.

• Keep valuable papers, stocks, bonds, expensive jewelry, coin collections, etc. in a bank safe deposit box. Do not store them at home unless you have a security closet or a safe that is well hidden and cannot be removed.

Maintaining Your Property:

• Keep property in good condition and free of trash, litter, weeds, leaves, graffiti, dismantled, covered, or inoperative vehicles, and other things that indicate neglect in caring for your property.

• Replace broken windows or screens.

• Repair broken fences and gate locks.

• Use screens, wired glass, or other protection for light fixtures and bulbs.

• Remove loose rocks and other objects that could be used to vandalize your property.

Enhance your home’s visibility! Make Sure the Police Can Find Your Home:

• Make sure your street address number is clearly visible from the street and is well lighted at night so the police and other emergency personnel can locate your home easily. Numbers should be at least 4 inches high.

• Provide the Hillsborough Police Department with an entry code if your home is gated. Consider the installation of a KnoxBox system on your keypad device.

Protecting Your Home and Property When Your Are Away:

• Place your home on the Hillsborough Police Department watch list. This may be achieved by telephoning 650-375-7470.

• Lock all doors and windows. Use deadbolts, dowels, or locking pins in sliding glass doors and windows to keep them from being pried open.

• Never announce your vacation plans on social media mediums such as Facebook, My Space, or Twitter.

• Use timers on lights, radios, TVs, etc. This will give the impression that your home is occupied.

• Stop mail and newspaper delivery, or have neighbor pick up anything left at the home.

• Keep grass watered and cut. Water and trim other landscaping.

• Ask the neighbors to watch your home and report any suspicious activities.

• Leave your itinerary with a neighbor or the Hillsborough Police Department so you can be contacted in an emergency.

• Disconnect your electric garage door opener and padlock the door, preferably on the inside.

• Set your burglar alarm and notify your alarm company that you will be away. Then if an alarm occurs when you are away the company will not call your home first to verify the alarm; it will notify the police directly. Also provide the alarm company with an up-to-date list of persons to contact about the alarm and the need to secure your home after a burglary.

Providing Visibility:

• Leave outside lights on after dark or have outside lights controlled by a motion detector. Make sure there are no dark areas around the house, garage, or yard in which a person could hide.

• Check lights regularly and replace burnt out bulbs.

• Trim bushes to less than 3 feet to eliminate possible hiding places, especially near windows and sidewalks, and easements.

• Trim tree canopies to at least 8 feet to allow visibility into your property.

• Replace solid walls in front yards with open fencing to eliminate hiding places and make climbing more difficult.

• Install a wide-angle peephole in your front door so you can look out without being seen yourself.

If you have any questions or would like an officer to assess your home please contact Officer Dana Tandy at 650-375-7470. Officer Tandy currently oversees the home security check program and is continuously performing home security assessments for the residents of Hillsborough.