Crime estimated to increase as temperatures rise: How to protect your assets

Published: Thursday, May 23 2013 7:00 a.m. MDT

A heat map indicating where vehicle crimes happened in Salt Lake City, April 2013. (Salt Lake City Police Department) A heat map indicating where vehicle crimes happened in Salt Lake City, April 2013. (Salt Lake City Police Department)

As the temperatures continue to rise, more people are going outside and out of town for activities and vacations, leaving homes and cars unattended — often for days.

The change in weather is also the perfect opportunity to execute more crimes.

Between January and June 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported property crimes overall increased in all three categories: 1.9 percent for larceny-theft, 1.7 percent for motor-vehicle theft, and 0.1 percent for burglary. However, the West saw the largest rise in property crime — up 4.7 percent.

Orem Department of Public Safety Sgt. Craig Martinez told the Daily Herald they always see an increase in vehicle burglaries and crime in general as the weather gets warmer.

"Criminals, like the rest of the people in Utah, don't like to be out in the cold, especially that cold spell we had," Martinez said. "The crimes are generally perpetrated at night, so that is one of the things that happens when temperatures start to go up — we see more crime than we do in the winter months."

Here are a few quick and inexpensive tips to keep your family and belongings safe:

Don't let your home be an easy target

Burglars are more likely to break into a home when it is clear that the owner is away. Exterior and interior lights are an easy way to deter someone from coming into your home uninvited. Installing a system that allows you to control lighting while you're traveling is a great way to deter a break-in.

Secure windows and doors

When the weather warms up, many people forget to lock windows and doors. It's important to secure all doors and windows if you are planning on leaving the home, even if it is only for a short while.

Don't post your plans to leave on any social media

Accessing information online can be very simple for a trained burglar. If you post on your Facebook or Twitter account that you're leaving on Thursday for a week, someone other than your friends may find out that information and know your home will be empty during that time, making it a prime opportunity to take what they want.

Get to know the people around you

Neighbors can keep an eye on your home and possessions while you're not around. If you leave on vacation, have a neighbor pick up mail and newspaper on the driveway, grab packages left on doorsteps and bring in the trash and recycling cans from the curb. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, make sure you arrange for someone to mow the law or remove snow from your driveway to make it appear that someone is home. Not only will you feel better while vacationing, your neighbors would appreciate the extra safety on their home as well.

Don't leave keys behind

It may be tempting to leave keys behind for relatives or friends while you are out of town. Burglars know all the common places people leave spare keys. The fake rock by the front door won't fool someone who is trying to get inside. Instead of leaving a key under the front or side doormat, install a keypad lock or code to a garage. Keypad codes can be changed multiple times and are simple to install. It is important that if you have a keypad to make the code something you can remember, but is not easy to guess such as 1234. If an incorrect code is issued too many times, the keypad will lock up which deters criminals from standing around too long.

Read the complete list of tips to keep your family and belongings safe this summer.

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