Surviving a Burglary?

It’s always best to try to prevent burglary. But some recent incidents have made me think more about what I call Burglary Survival.

Your chances of being burglarized are actually very small. But odds are not a comfort if you ARE burglarized. It’s completely awful to come home and find that some hoodlum has broken in and taken valuables.

So in addition to trying to prevent a burglary, there are some things you can do to help survive a burglary if you suffer one.

> Check your Insurance & get a floater for valuables
>Collect serial numbers
>Take photos of unique items
>Engrave your belongings with a unique number

Your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover expensive jewelry or unique items like silver – or will have a set limit on their replacement value. The way around this is to cover specific items with a floater or addendum to your policy. And speaking of replacement, find out what your policy says about the level at which items will be replaced – your policy will say whether you will receive current cash value or replacement cost. For example, your t.v. may not cost much anymore and nothing near what a replacement will cost you.

If you have family heirlooms that aren’t appraised or a collection, say of books, that you don’t have receipts for, take pictures or video’s and keep them safe so you can prove you owned them at the time of the break-in.

Take pictures of jewelry since they don’t have serial numbers.

Take some time this Saturday to collect the manuals or warranty cards or receipts for your t.v., stereo, laptop, iPod dock, etc, so you can report them after a break-in. You won’t get anything back unless the serial numbers can be tracked by police.

Hide your spare check books and shred old financial records.

Don’t write passwords down and keep them near your computer. Do hide a list of your credit cards along with the 800 number on the back so you can cancel them right away.

Finally, consider doing a Home Inventory

I hope you never have a burglary. But take these easy steps to make a burglary survivable and not a nightmare.

Share your thoughts and stay safe!

A Family of More Than 100

As Police Memorial Week has finished for another year, I’d like to thank the 100 Club of Arizona for its wonderful support of Arizona Law Enforcement and Firefighter families.

The 100 Club was started with the idea of getting 100 people to contribute to the fund for a fallen police officer.

Today, the 100 Club of Arizona supports all police, correctional, probation and parole officers, firefighters, and federal agents who are serving and protecting the citizens of Arizona. This includes all county, tribal, state and federal levels.

Few professions have the risk that public safety brings to family members. And already in 2011, the 100 Club has helped the families of five officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. On that worst of days, spouses, parents and children of public safety employees are helped by the family of the 100 Club, not just financially, but with shoulder-to-shoulder support and care.

You may be part of the “silent majority” who sees their public safety employees looking after them all day, every day. And you may have wondered what people can do to say thank you. One great way is to join the 100 Club. Membership in the 100 Club of Arizona is open to everyone and provides “minimum effort and maximum satisfaction.”

Thank you (become a member today).

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Five Who Didn’t Come Home

National Police Week is May 15 to 21 this year.

Which is a good time to share the brief stories of five Tempe Officers who didn’t come home at the end of their shifts. Some of them are unknown except for archival documents. The rest are remembered by their parents, siblings, spouses, children and many friends. They all came to work each day to do a difficult job protecting people they knew and many more people they didn’t know. All are missed.

Night Officer Albert Nettle was killed May 18, 1919 in a jail break. He brought a prisoner into the jail just as another prisoner was fighting with the Marshal over being separated from his friends. Nettle grabbed that prisoner but was shot by one of the others. Local citizens re-captured the escapees.

Marshal Cyrus Spangler was shot by two robbers on January 11, 1921 as they held up the Baber-Jones Mercantile at 6th Street and Mill Avenue. The robbers were shot and killed in a gunfight at Calabasas, AZ as they fled to Mexico.

Lieutenant John Bradshaw was killed on the Hohokam Expressway north of University Drive on September 21, 1987. A man escaped while being transported for a psychiatric evaluation and commandeered a motorcycle. Lt. Bradshaw was shot as the motorcycle passed him. Department of Public Safety officers caught up to the suspect in Phoenix; they killed him when he tried to shoot them. Lieutenant Bradshaw had served for 20 years.

Officer Robert Hawk was struck by a hit-and-run driver on September 23, 1988 during a traffic stop on the Superstition Freeway near Rural Road. He had been with the Department only 18 months.

Officer Kevin Weeks was killed on his police motorcycle on September 28, 2006. He was on his way home at the end of his shift and struck construction materials on the Price Freeway at Apache Boulevard. He had been on the Department seven years.

Visit the Tempe page at the Officer Down Memorial Page by searching for Tempe.

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The Village is Digital. How’s That Working For Your Kids?

Overwhelmed by all the technology your kids know about? When did you last do a “parent update” on everything in your kids’ digital world? If the answer is anything less than a month, it’s probably been too long.

It has been said it “Takes a Village” to raise a child, but, today, the Village is Digital.

You may have grown up before the Internet, or when we still said “the World Wide Web,” or when surfing the web meant figuring out Yahoo. But your kids swim in this stuff every day. And they’re not equipped to really understand it or be safe. Personally, the first time I ever saw MySpace was in 2005 when I was called to a house about teen threats. I was expecting, “here’s my son – you can ask him about it,” instead, the Mom said, “look at his computer.” That was all new — I hadn’t heard about MySpace and the term cyberbullying hadn’t been coined yet. And MySpace isn’t even the cool place to be anymore.

Ask your child, “How many friends so you have?” They’ll include people they’ve never met. If your kids are younger, see how many Club Penguin kids they “know.” If they’re older, search for their Facebook pages (they may have more than one). How about e-mail accounts? With free services, a teen can easily have five or more accounts – none of them arranged through parents.

For a suggestion on talking to your kids see: A Parent/Author/Tech Pundit’s View on How to Teach Kids Privacy

For more information overall, here’s a pretty thorough list of Digital areas to think about and look into. The same site also has guides on specific sites or topics.

What have you found useful?

Share your thoughts and Stay Safe,

R. Mitchell

A Private Phone is a Happy Phone

I wrote last week about fears that posting your vacation plans can tip off burglars to hit your house. Because technology moves so quickly, those fears almost seem out-of-date already. This comes from concerns about the location data our phones and other devices provide for Facebook Places, Foursquare, Google Latitude, and others.

For a quick overview of two sides of this issue, see a very good Wired magazine article about how your phone can give away your location and tag your social media with it and a new analysis from

Get to know the privacy settings for your phone and service provider as well as for your apps.  Look here for a good list of tips.  But – security experts say that the basic location data from your device may be available regardless of how you change your options. Perhaps we’re learning to live with this (as the Mainstreet article indicates) but living with new technology doesn’t have to mean giving up your safety and security.

The trend is to less and less privacy. A new phone app called Color has been designed with no privacy at all. It shares your photo’s with any other Color user you come into proximity with. In a CNET interview, the founder stated, “You’ll see their pictures; you’ll see their life; it’s all public…everything they take, you have; everything you take, they have.”

Here is Apple’s response to recent events. Apple Officially Responds to Location Tracking Controversy

Being safe requires being aware. The basis of crime prevention is really risk assessment and decisions we make about trade-offs.

If you are someone who uploads pics to Flickr and is very connected through social media, you can still cut down on how much real info you share (your home address and your exact travel plans) and you can make good use of traditional burglary prevention strategies such as those described last week.

And like the case of making it harder for burglars discussed last week, if your phone’s information isn’t easy to get into, and other data you upload, like photo’s, is limited to your friends, a criminal who is trying these avenues will prefer to go on to one of the other 100,000 phones in the area to find easier pickings.

Another risk assessment is to consider what is the possible harm you face in a situation – in this case location information through your phone. Being as risk-averse as I am (friends say paranoid), I would never say we’re perfectly safe. But I will suggest that the location information from your phone doesn’t put you in a classic risk situation. For example, it doesn’t increase the chance you’ll be mugged. Or that your credit card number will be stolen.

“Ahh,” you say, what about burglary — because as the Wired article said, a person could figure out where you live. And if they see you at Starbucks, for example, they know you’re not home so they could decide to burglarize your house. This is where another element of risk assessment comes in and that is the odds that someone who (a) knows how to get the information, (b) will want to do so and that they have (c) the means and (d) motive to follow through in a way that (e) harms you. Now we’re talking very, very low odds. I don’t think I’ve ever run across a burglar who had a smart phone that worked. And reliable transportation to get to your house. And the work ethic to put this all together and act on the spot to commit a burglary from cell phone location data.

So should you monitor how your phone collects and shares information? Yes. Will your phone get you burglarized? No.

Share your thoughts and Stay safe,

Sgt. Mitchell