My mail carrier, a great guy who looks out for his customers, told me this morning that two men walked into a home one street over from me yesterday afternoon and confronted the man who lives there. Since it was daytime his doors weren't locked. He was lucky and they took off. My neighborhood, considered a relatively "safe" area of west Toledo, has been hit over recent years by many burglaries (my house and garage were both broken into a few years ago when I wasn't home) and now I'm officially scared. I can't afford an alarm system because of my limited income and my doors and windows are locked. I feel like a prisoner and I'm afraid to go out at night. I am a single woman trapped in a house I can't sell. Anyone have any suggestions? I do have a dog, but he's a little guy.
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Maybe get some signs that look like you have an alarm and "beware the dog" signs as well? Sorry about how you are feeling.
Yes, sorry about how you feel. It's not good to be alone and to feel fear. This kind of thing can rob your peace of mind (let alone your worldly possessions).
If I may offer some advice, your post seems to indicate that most avenues of action are blocked already (alarm, income, selling your house). Would you consider speaking to a member of the clergy about your feelings? Many things are possible, and many kinds of help are available ... but in general, to benefit, one has to believe that life is not hopeless. I wish you peace, tonight and all the time. You are not alone.
Buying a gun and having the willingness to shoot to kill any intruders is your best option.
I feel like you could be my mother writing this. She, after my father died, felt like you--afraid to go out, more aware of crime in the neighborhood. Too much TV telling her "crime is everywhere" in Toledo.
In addition to viola's suggestion (I'm guessing 6th's suggestion is not an option, but I could be wrong), may I suggest a couple other things, modeled on my own mother's actions. These are on top of common sense actions, such as locking your doors at night (or even screen doors during the day), making sure your windows are secure, etc.
1.) As viola mentioned, reaching out to a church group-- even if you are not a member --for help would not be out of line. You aren't asking for money, you are asking for help from someone's time to make sure your home is protected; plus, perhaps someone could help you wire one or two motion-activated lights. My mom has one mounted to the front of the garage and also for the backyard. If anybody comes near the house at night, it's like the sun is rising (I attached a HUGE floodlight to the motion sensors). Criminals like the dark, not light.
2.) A dummy security camera (click on the link) may not fool all professional criminals out there, but it will deter the punks and fools that prowl around looking for trouble. If you read the paper at all, you realize that most of the criminals who do things in this town are friggin' morons. Some dangerous, but mostly morons. Make 'em think you have a security system. The dummy camera's are cheap ($20-$30), look pretty real, the lights run forever on 2 AA batteries, and can be installed by anyone who knows how to turn a screwdriver. Put one right over your door. Find out if you can get ADT or another security systems window stickers for free, then put 'em up around your house. Free advertising.
3.) Meet your neighbors if possible and form watches with them. My mother's neighbors watch her house when she is gone for any length of time; she keeps an eye on their houses if they are gone. We were never close to our neighbors when I was growing up (my dad was somewhat paranoid about letting a whole lot of people in the house), but my mom has forged this relationship with her neighbors, gone to neighbor's houses and invited them to hers, and has given her much more piece of mind--if the neighbors notice a strange car in the driveway, they call and make sure she's OK, etc.
Just some ideas. All the best to you.
Criminals often look for the easy mark, so the suggestion above about good outdoor lighting/motion detectors is a good one. I've also seen it suggested to make sure shrubs and trees near your windows are well-trimmed. Make your house less appealing to burglars.
Also, its not a bad idea to talk with someone about how your feeling. A healthy level of fear is ok, if you use it to make some productive changes. But a paralyzing level of fear is not ok - you don't want it to keep you from living your life.
Your post brings up several points.
First, like posted above, criminals usually take the path of least resistance. They entered an unlocked house. Totally prevented by locking doors. Just because it's nice out, do not leave doors unlocked.
Second, your house and garage were broken into when you weren't home. When you aren't home did you have lights off and is car parked in driveway? A couple electric timers attached to you tv and lamps can have them turn on at certain times making the appearance of someone being home. There is also motion detector sprayers. These hook up to your garden hose and when activated, spray water in the direction. Great startling effect.
Your dog doesn't have to be big, just noisy. The outside motion detector light is a great option also. Not too hard to install. If you can't find someone to install it, post here. Several good people on here willing to help. Cost of the motion detector light with bulbs, about $30.
No one should feel afraid. Like above, do you talk to neighbors? Have friends coming over?
Ryan's suggestion about the dummy alarm sign is good. You can purchase a yard sign, even if you do not purchase the alarm. EBay always has these relatively inexpensive signs for sale. Probably one of best and cheapest ways to deter criminals.
Just out of curiosity, shortysmom: approximately where in West Toledo do you live (major cross streets)? As a fellow West Toledoan (Secor/Laskey) I am always desirous of knowing what the local crime activity is.
A few other thoughts:
1. Your dog may be little, but if he barks he is a very useful deterrent. The size of a dog is less of a concern to burglars than the unwanted attention a noisy dog brings. If he barks at strangers and noises, he is a valuable crime prevention asset.
2. The lighting and landscaping suggestions above are excellent: many studies have shown that a well lit and well maintained property provides fewer hiding places for burglars, and another study I read some years ago shows that crooks subconciously are more likely to pick businesses and homes that are a little unkempt outside. One theory is that this is more like their own environment, while another is that crooks think people and businesses a bit on the sloppy side probably practice poor theft prevention techniques, like locking up valuables or keeping an eye on details like strangers wandering nearby.
3. Strangely, being outdoors a lot near your home is also an effective deterrent to crime. People perceived as shut-ins are easier marks to crooks, while a person who is confidently active outside the house (yard work, walking the dog, talking to neighbors) is more likely to spot and identify potential burglars and robbers.
Get a dog that barks at strangers.
Get drapes that completely cover windows at night. With no ability to see into the house at all.
Cut back bushes near the house where someone can hide. Light the outside of the house.
Always keep doors locked. A common time for break ins is just after 8am.
Sadly, a lot of crime prevention is making your house look less attractive that the one next door.
Thanks for all the great suggestions! I think the motion detectors are my best option right now. I do take the usual precautions. My property is neat, bushes are always trimmed low, it's impossible to see inside my house after dusk, and my dog is extremely alert and barks ferociously at the slightest sound including those I can't hear. The downside is my immediate neighbors. One is a widow in her late seventies who doesn't socialize and the other is a bank-owned house that has been vacant more than a year. I do have a 6'2", 200+ lb. son living with me who fears nothing and would kill to protect me, but with his work schedule and social life, he doesn't spend a lot of time at home.
I refuse to become a shut-in. If the situation continues to deteriorate, or if a woman in my area is attacked, as much as I hate to say it, I would buy a gun and learn how to use it even though I've never touched one and and they give me the creeps. If it came down to them or me, I would pick me every time.
I feel very similar! I am home during the day and sometimes dont have my doors locked. I am worried that people will come to my home expecting to find a lot of money (I have a small business, but NEVER bring the money home). Sure my area is nice...but why wait to be the next victim?
I am installing new locking interior doors. The locking interior doors is so that the kids cant get into our bedroom while my hubby and I are out of the home. Then we are buying a gun, prolly a .45mm. I'm going to post signs outside my house that says we are gun owners and former military with advanced experience in handling guns. My husband has seen live combat and wont even talk to me about things like his own kill count...he has no qualms about killing someone in our home.
We have deadbolts on our doors, and motion detecting exterior lights. If someone really wants in, they dont bother with doors - they use windows. If they want in that bad, I plan on having a gun to greet them with.
Ohio congrats on using the 2A home security system. While signs and alarms are great tools, when the rubber meets the road if someone wants in their coming in. You have the right to defend your home and those you love, no one has dibs on your personal safety.
If you are new too shooting I might not go with 45 cal, that's a lot of kick for new shooters. If you do get a 45 for house patrol get a big heavy all metal 1911.
you can pick up a taurus pt-1911b all steel 45acp gov model from bass pro for $649. i have one and love it. i don't know if a 1911 would be a good first gun, there are many other choices in 45's, i stopped by the sprotsman's stop2963 S State Route 590 Elmore, OH 43416-9724 last week and was really impressed with the prices and selection. they also have an indoor range.
DbW - 45mm is large for the civ world, but not for military. Both of us have trained on much larger weapons. If either of us pulls the trigger we want the person stopped in 1 hit, not two or three. If a gun comes out its business that needs to come to a stop with 1 pull of the trigger.
I really donít think twice about this stuff. I donít worry about people breaking/walking in. If Iím home and itís during the day, chances are the garage door of our attached garage is open. The lock on our patio door broke in January we only got out this weekend to look for a patio door replacement. I havenít thought twice about the door not locking for over 3 months. All this fear canít be good for you. Iím I out of the norm?
I live in the West Toledo area as well. Make sure your locks are decent, deadbolts, and no single pane glass on the doors. Motion activated floodlights and "dummy" alarm signs are helpful.
Statistically speaking, daylight robberies while the victim is home are incredibly uncommon. But as a female, I empathize with your fear, we're sort of raised in a culture of fear, and not all of it is without reason.
Keep your doors locked. Buy a gun. Get comfortable with it. Shooting can actually be a lot of fun. I go to the range as a stress relief. If you're not inclined, get pepper spray, a baseball bat, a big dog. Whatever.
In the end, know that the statistics are in your favor. That always calms my paranoia. :)
Just remember to say " I was afraid for my life, I thought he was going to kill me." and be sure when they fall they will be inside your house. It still amazes me that some people will want to say that anyone breaking into a house should have a case to sue the homeowner from any injuries suffered at the hands of the homeowner in protecting themselves or family.
Ohio - Thank you for your service.
SensorG - Nothing wrong with being prepared for the worst. I'm guessing most days you don't plan on being in an auto accident but you still carry a auto insurance policy correct? I don't plan on getting mugged today will out with my family at Franklin Park but I have insurance.
Sensor, I get what you're saying. I don't go overboard to the point of paranoia about stuff, but I do keep up with some basic measures.
We went through a few year stretch where my husband worked 3rd shift, so I was home alone with 2 young children at night. At that point, I became very conscious of keeping doors and windows locked, etc.
(My biggest source of security was our 2 big dogs who bark like crazy as soon as anyone sets a foot in our yard. A determined intruder may have still tried to break in, but at least I'd be awake and able to call for help immediately!)
I'm a security slacker myself. I think the print and broadcast media have figured out that one way to keep people hooked into "the news" is to frighten them with the idea that criminals are everywhere and they're COMING AFTER YOU.
One of the reasons I recommended some help from a religious organization is that spirituality can bring great peace of mind. Especially for someone who feels like they are stuck, living in fear or unable to control their economic situation.
As I have tuned into spirituality and away from common fears, I have found that certain things come to my attention when I need to be cautious, and when I don't need to be concerned, I do not have to live in a state of fear.
Having said this, when I lived alone out in the country, I had a dog and a rifle. When I lived in an urban area, I usually locked my doors during the day, and always at night. Everything TT'ers have mentioned above are good suggestions. But peace of mind and reduction of fear are also available through other means.
Thanks for starting the thread - it's been very instructive!
Daytime home invasions are becoming way too common. Typical set up is to watch a home, determine a pattern. On random targets, the perpetrators will knock on the door first to see if anyone is home. If you answer the door, they will typically ask for directions.
Most intruders want to avoid an actual confrontation, much easier when no one is home and too much can go wrong when confronting someone.
As far as home protection besides a firearm, dogs are very useful, especially loud barking canines. Home security systems are beneficial and do not need to be overly complicated to provide protection when both home and away. Technology has improved drastically to the point you can watch a home security camera or check your alarm system status on your average smart cell phone.
Any physical deterrent is helpful such as an alarm yard sign and stickers. Once again if the average intruder is looking at two houses, and he/she thinks one has an alrm and the other doesn't, you know which one will be chosen. One less obstacle to overcome.
Just my two cents, I have worked in the security industry for 25 years and have provided services to many homes, businesses and prominent addresses in this area as well as across the country.
We are probalby the absolute worst when it comes to security. We actually cant find the keys to the front door. No one can remember the last time we locked it. Stupid, I know. There are guns in the home, but I dont know one end from the other, hence I stay away from them. We do have three dogs that bark at a leaf falling, but largely ignore the meter readers. The only thing locked up are my husband's tools. :)
We have decided to finally locate the keys or replace the locks when we spring clean (cant find the backdoor key either) and use them. Forty years of living in an extremly low crime and well protected community can lull you into a probably false sense of security. We see a patrol car on our street at least three times day. That doesnt include nights. They actually know which cars belong to which residence. They'll bring your dog home if he acidentally gets loose as long as you are not a repeat offender and they are not on another call. It's not Mayberry but pretty damn close.
I might add that our schedules are not predictable. They have always been erratic at best, even before we retired. We dont regularly leave the house and return at a set time. I think we would behave differently if that were the case.
Shortysmom - please take the steps that you are comfortable with to find peace and security in your own home. You deserve to come and go as you please with confidence and sleep soundly at night. I'm sure all posters would like to hear that you've taken some measures that help.
I think the print and broadcast media have figured out that one way to keep people hooked into "the news" is to frighten them with the idea that criminals are everywhere and they're COMING AFTER YOU.
Sensationalism in news media has been going on forever, from print ("yellow journalism") to radio to television ("if it bleeds it leads"). Anyone else here remember Byron MacGregor and "CKLW 20/20 News" (i.e. "Police are looking for an Inkster man who came home with his genuine Louisville Slugger and batted 1.000 on his wife's head")?
George Gerbner, with a few other co-authors, studied this in depth for many years, leading to his Cultivation Theory--"concerned with the effects of television programming (particularly violent programming) on the attitudes and behaviors of the American public" (Miller, 2005, p. 281). So, the phenomenon is not new.
As others have said, statistics are on your side when it comes to NOT having a crime happen to you. Defend yourself as you can and do not immerse yourself in media news that heightens your fear.
Hear, hear, oldhometown! Sometimes I intercept an e-mail from my elderly parents' crowd, and it looks to me like the only things they circulate are scare stories about danger at the mall, danger under your car, danger on your front porch, danger everywhere. It seems like fear becomes a form of entertainment -- not only from the media, but also from friends who think they're doing you a favor.
"I might add that our schedules are not predictable. They have always been erratic at best, even before we retired."
Good point, Holland. Burglars usually case a house to determine the homeowners' routine. It's difficult to guage whether a homeowner is home if his or her schedule is flexible and different day to day.
As to the media overblowing things, I wouldn't be too critical. I would rather know about a rash of burglaries or attempted child abductions in an area than not know about them. As soon as someone becomes a victim, they want to know why the media did not report on the serial nature of the crimes in their neighborhoods.
Information is power, knowing whats going on in your neighborhood and city are never a bad thing, it's up to you to digest and use this information. Look the world is not (nor has ever been) a pretty place. For every store of the "good ole days" I can give you 10 of Irish immigrants beaten, the countless who stood in soup kitchen lines, or generational family farms destroyed by the dust bowl. Where there are people there will always be ego and problems.
I find most of the people who complain about the "news" and their fear mongering are the same ones who still leave their doors unlocked, have their head in the sand muttering the same mantra "crime doesn't happen in my neighborhood", and are astonished when they become a victim.
Using your situational awareness and a couple simple tools are 99.9% of keeping yourself safe.
Keeping your doors locked and your windows shut 24/7 is the best way to become a victim, actually. That is why people don't know their neighbors and neighborhood anymore. Talking to the people who live near you on a regular basis is the best way to keep rack of what is happening in your area.
Get out and kibbitz with the old lady two doors down who knows everyone's business. Sit in the yard and watch the cars that go by day after day. Then you'll know when something is off. The news is great if something big happened, but they can't report every crime that happens throughout the city.
This is also the best way to keep your neighborhood from disintegrating. People don't want to leave a friendly neighborhood and it deters crime because there is always someone paying attention. Most of the Old West End still suffers from crime and image problems, but there are those pockets where people have gotten together and turned things around. Crime is not gone, but it is significantly reduced in those spots.
Agree with all of the above. I also suggest if at all possible a security system. I pay $14.95 per month for mine; it is really quite affordable and I go to sleep at night feeling very secure. My insurance rates also went down when I had it installed.
Old West End suffers more from an image problem than actual crime. The area is at the bottom of the list when it comes to crime in Toledo-proper. A whopping 1.5% of crime in Toledo occurs in the OWE (aprox. from last years #s).
Part of the reason for that is http://oldwestendsecurity.com/ -- but like MoreThanRhetoric says, it's the community and neighborhood residents getting out and meeting everyone around them... and watching over our neighbors.
Here is one burglar that now can meet his maker.
"When they arrived, police found Smith lying in the driveway next to the damaged garage door wearing a shoulder holster with a handgun in it. After further investigation, a second suspect was located and placed under arrest. Heís described as a 16-year-old black male. " - The guy was even armed.. good riddance.