Monday, December 28, 2009

Home Invasions: be Prepared

Recently, there was a high profile home invasion in Connecticut where a mother and two daughters were killed. The husband survived the vicious attack. It happened in a well- to-do, relatively crime free neighborhood, to a respected medical doctor and his family. This horrendous attack became an extremely high profile case and ended up being broadcast all over national television.
One national talk show had three experts discussing the case and home invasions in general. After about 20 minutes of conversation that really was quite superficial, I came away with a few steps people can do to help themselves. However, the general consensus seemed that there wasn’t too much we can do to stop home invasions. I was taken aback as this simply is not true. There are many positive actions we can take to protect ourselves.
I’ve listed some effective tips that work to curtail, limit or stop home invasions. You don’t have to use all of them to be effective; you can use one or you can utilize them all.
· Get strong wooden or metal security doors for your main entrances
· Install deeply set deadbolt locks into any outside entrance doors
· Place a piece of wood in the window track of sliding glass doors–this keeps them from being forced open
· Get motion detector lights for the outside of your home. These are inexpensive and unbelievably easy to install. Put them at all corners of your home. They light up when motion crosses its path. Predators don’t like light
· Install an alarm system, which has an internal siren (which most of them come with) and an outside siren to notify your neighbors also in case someone breaks in. Alarms are great, even though many talk against their effectiveness
· Consider having a firearm to protect you and your family in case of home attack. If you chose this option get trained in its storage, safety and use. In trained, responsible hands firearms are great protection tools
· Create a safe-room in your home. You can choose any room such as an unused bedroom or your master bedroom. It is a simple idea. Pick a room and install a strong security door with a long, deep deadbolt lock along with reinforced door hinges (if you need help talk to a locksmith or a hardware store employee). Keep a cell phone in the room (in case your land-line phone is disabled) flashlight and any weapons you may choose to use. Have a family plan for everyone to run to the room in case of trouble. From there you can make a stand or have more time to call authorities.
There are actually more things you could do to help yourself, but the tips mentioned cover all the major areas, except the most important one—lock your doors! So many families, mostly in “good neighborhoods” do not lock their doors. Countless instances of home burglary, rape and death have occurred because doors were left unlocked and predators had an easy way in. This is a simple fact most people do not know. We live in a mobile society where a bad neighborhood is just a short ride away from a good neighborhood.
Like any thing in life, solutions to problems come about from taking action. If you’re concerned for your family’s safety regarding home invasions, follow some of the easy tips mentioned and you’ll certainly be better off.

Police offer $5,000 reward to find arsonist(s)

The Michigan Arson Committee is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of an individual, or group of individuals responsible for setting garbage fires in downtown Petoskey.
On Tuesday, around 10:13 p.m., the Petoskey Department of Public Safety was dispatched to a fire in the alley behind Leo’s Lounge, after a citizen called 9-1-1 to report large plastic garbage cans on fire against a building.
Upon arrival, officers discovered two separate fires behind the business of Monarch Garden & Floral Design.
“There were two garbage cans against the wall — one was on fire, and the other was recyclables on fire,” said Lt. Randy Weston. “Both were separated, which leads us to believe that it was arson.”
As officers were extinguishing the first two fires, the department was dispatched to the Danser Professional Building on the corner of State and Petoskey streets, where a well-established fire in a large steel Dumpster was reported.
Weston said his department was able to extinguish the fires rather quickly, and luckily no extensive damage resulted.
“They were small containment fires, but the threat of spread was there,” he said. “We were fortunate that we were able to get to them quickly.”
Weston said these fires are extremely similar to a recent string of Dumpster fires his department has been investigating since September.
As reported by the News-Review in November, the first of three garbage fires was set shortly after midnight on Sept. 8 in a trash can near 446 E. Mitchell Street. The second was set that same evening in a garbage bin behind the St. Francis Credit Union on State Street.
The third, however, was set 10 days later around 1:47 a.m. on Sept. 18, in a bin in the alley behind Scrapper’s Attic and J.C. Penney.
“We’re determining these fires are of suspicious origin,” Weston said. “The locations are in close proximity to each other, and the circumstances are similar.”
Weston said his department is looking to the community for help on solving these crimes.
“Certainly, we’re looking for any information or leads on these fires,” Weston said. “We’re real concerned with the suspicious nature of these fires, and we don’t want to see a large fire as a result.”
To offer information about these crimes and claim the reward being offered by the Michigan Arson Committee, contact them at (800) 44-ARSON, or call the Petoskey Department of Public Safety at 347-2500.

Police urge common sense in protecting against burglaries


South Bend Police Department

With the holidays here, it is important to keep in mind some basic safety tips to make your home a less likely target for a burglary.

Here are some ways burglars enter your home:

-Leaving windows and doors unlocked when not at home.

-Not arming security systems.

-Leaving garage and basement doors unlocked.

-Leaving windows open at night.

-Failing to make your home look occupied when you're not at home.

Here are some things you can do:

-Keep your doors locked and be sure your locks are in good working order.

-If you have a security system, use it!

-If your garage is attached to the house, keep the door entering your house locked. Don't rely on the garage door to keep a burglar out.

-Keep your windows locked, and make sure these locks are in working order.

-When away from your house, give it the same appearance as if you were home.

-Use variable timers on lights when away.

-Have a trusted neighbor, friend or relative pick up your paper or mail if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time.

-Never leave a message on your answering machine saying you're out of town.

-Consider placing your Christmas tree away from windows. This makes it difficult for a burglar to break out a window and grab your gifts.

-Should you see anyone acting suspiciously in your neighborhood or by a neighbor's house, be sure to phone your local police and have them check the person out.

-Consider joining a program as a means of preventing crime and getting to know your neighbors.

-Lastly, after the holidays, don't put boxes from your DVD player, stereo, etc., out by the trash. Thieves can do their shopping from the street to know what you have in your home. It would be advisable to cut the boxes up and put them in a trash bag.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Off-duty Ferndale cop stops home break-in suspect

Police said a home-invasion suspect picked the wrong house to enter in Madison Heights because the off-duty officer who lives there leaped from his bed to chase the man down the street and hold him for arrest.
Kip William Kiefer, 31, who lives in Madison Heights just blocks from the site of the break-in, was in Oakland County Jail on a $1-million bond today after being charged with first-degree home invasion, Lt. Robert Anderson said today.
Anderson gave this account of the incident: Around 4:40 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18, Madison Heights police responded to a 911 call from the 28000 block of Alden for a “home invasion in progress.” The 19-year-old woman who called told police she’d been watching television in her lower-level bedroom of the quad-level house when she heard footsteps coming down the stairs and looked up to see a strange man staring at her. She said hello and the man backed away from her.
“The quick-thinking female then used her cell phone to call her father, who was sleeping in an upper-level bedroom and is an off-duty Ferndale police officer,” Anderson said.
The teen’s father jumped out of bed and came downstairs in time to see the suspect leave through the home’s back door, he said. The father, who is the homeowner, rushed out the front door “to cut the suspect off and then he gave chase down the street.”
The homeowner repeatedly identified himself as a police officer, yet the suspect continued running until the homeowner caught up to him, whereupon the suspect threw money he’d stolen from the home at the officer and then continued trying to flee. The homeowner was able to throw him to the ground after a struggle, during which Kiefer received a black eye and other bruises. He then held the suspect until Madison Heights police arrived to take the man into custody. The homeowner and his daughter told police they believe the man entered their home through its back door, which had not been locked, Anderson said.
Kiefer is scheduled for a preliminary exam at 8 a.m. Jan 6 in Madison Heights District Court, following his arraignment Saturday, Dec. 19, in front of Magistrate James Patterson. Anderson said the Madison Heights Police Department expects to issue a public award to the homeowner for his actions, although so far he has not been named.
“He did a tremendous job in apprehending this dangerous criminal” who has a prior police record. … To be able to react like he did after being awakened from deep sleep is just amazing, and it’s a credit to our occupation and his own department,” Anderson said. The off-duty officer, who is in his 40s, “is in phenomenal shape” to have chased down the younger man, he said.
Surprisingly, the officer won’t be getting praise from his own daughter, Anderson said.
“His daughter is livid that he didn’t lock that back door. So, Daddy’s taking some heat on this one,” he said with a chuckle.
As part of their report on the incident, Madison Heights police issued a warning that people should keep all entry doors and garage doors locked, even when they are home and awake, and especially after dark.
Contact BILL LAITNER: 586-826-7264 or

Monday, December 21, 2009

DETROIT: Task force is guarding Christmas

As Detroiters stockpile gifts, city police are cracking down on home invasions.
Police Chief Warren Evans said Friday that the department has teamed up with other local agencies for Operation Home Sweet Home, a home-invasion initiative, that so far has resulted in 25 arrests.
"As much as any crime, home invasions are driving people out of the city, and we have to do more to address this issue," Evans said in a news release. "Once a person has experienced that kind of personal violation, it's hard for them to want to stay."
The operation identified break-in hot spots throughout the city to watch over the past month, including parts of the 6th Precinct, the Eastern District and the Southwestern District. Surveillance crews were sent to those areas to provide faster response to home invasion calls.
Evans said he hopes to expand the operation to a full-time strategy.

Crime Stoppers gets more tips, more support

Nearly 4,000 tipsters statewide have called the Crime Stoppers hot line this year, a 23% increase over 2008, officials said.
The increase is due to a growing intolerance for crime in metro Detroit and a push this year by the organization to form partnerships with suburban police departments in counties such as Oakland, Wayne and Macomb, said John Broad, president of Crime Stoppers of Michigan.
"People have decided that enough is enough," Broad said.
Broad said about 35 police agencies in seven counties have signed on -- many this year -- as financial partners with Crime Stoppers, giving anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 annually. Since it began in 2002, Crime Stoppers has seen the number of tips steadily rise from 1,773 in 2006.
So far this year, 631 people have been arrested due to the anonymous tips, down from about 700 last year, Broad said. This year, the organization has doled out more than $75,000 in reward money, about the same amount as last year.
The sheriff's offices in Macomb and Oakland counties have increased efforts to use and make citizens aware of Crime Stoppers this year.
Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said his office uses Crime Stoppers' number instead of a sheriff's tip line. Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said his office has blanketed neighborhoods with door hangers bearing the Crime Stoppers tip line number after crimes such as home invasions.
Broad said many suburban departments put Crime Stoppers bumper stickers on their patrol cars or tell neighbors about the tip line after a crime has occurred, as well.
"It all goes back to our philosophy of community policing," Hackel said of his agency's partnership with Crime Stoppers. "The majority of information that comes our way comes from someone who knows something, who sees something."
Contact KORIE WILKINS: 586-826-7262 or

Monday, December 14, 2009

Home damaged by fire

By Corky Emrick
Sturgis Journal
Fri Dec 11, 2009, 01:51 AM EST

Constantine, Mich. -
The cause of a fire that damaged a home Thursday in Constantine remains under investigation.
Firefighters were called to a home at 185 W. Sixth St. at about 5:30 p.m.
First arriving personnel found flames coming from the front of the home. The fire was quickly extinguished.
The fire appears to have started on the lower level. Parts of the second level suffered some smoke damage. The homeowner was not at home at the time of the fire.
Officials said the fire’s cause is undetermined and that the Michigan State Police fire marshal will help with the investigation.
Assisting firefighters were Constantine police and LifeCare Ambulance.

5 Tips for Holiday Light Safety

Decorating you home with holiday-themed lights is a wonderful way to create a festive mood for the Christmas season. However, in order to be able to celebrate the holidays safely, it’s important that you are familiar with some of the safety procedures involved in decorating with holiday lights. If you’re not careful, your holiday lights could become a serious safety hazard.
Tip # 1 – Read the Package!Before purchasing the least expensive type of decorative lights, it’s best if you first read the packaging! Some lights are not rated for outdoor use, or are manufactured by companies that are notorious for producing faulty products. In general, it’s always best to look for a package that states “Tested by UL” or “Tested by ETL”, both of which are reputable testing laboratories.
Tip #2 – Mini Lights are Best.The “classic” style of Christmas lights is the large-bulb type that is still available at most home good stores. However, this type of light burns hot, and has a greater risk of being a fire hazard. Unless you are prepared to take extreme safety precautions, it’s highly recommended that you stick to the mini Christmas lights, which have a much cooler operating temperature.
Tip #3 – Inspect your Lights Before Use.Whether you are purchasing new holiday lights, or using a previously owned set, it’s always highly recommend that you give them a thorough inspection before using them to decorate. When checking your lights, pay attention for:
Loose Connections
Broken or Missing Bulbs
Frayed Wire
Cracked Sockets
Exposed Wire
Defective Operation
By checking your lights, you can reduce the risk that your holiday lights will present a safety hazard. If you find a defect in your lights, either return them to the manufacturer for a refund, or simply throw them away. It’s usually best not to attempt to fix a damaged set of Christmas lights on your own, unless you are a skilled electrician.
Tip #4 – Christmas Tree Safety.If you plan to hang your holiday lights on a live Christmas tree, there are some safety precautions you need to follow. Never hang lights on a dry Christmas tree! This is one of the most common mistakes that results in an accidental fire over the holiday season. To check if your tree is dry, try bending or breaking one of the small twigs on the tree. If it snaps easily, your tree is too dry, and could be a fire hazard.
Always keep a live tree sufficiently watered, as an average size tree may need water refills at least once per day. Don’t ever hang holiday lights on a metal Christmas tree. Metal Christmas trees can become electrically charged, and may electrocute someone who touches a tree. In addition to this, metal trees may also cause electrical holiday lights to short out, which can start a fire.
Tip #5 - Hang Lights Safely Outdoors.Before hanging holiday lights outside, it’s best if you first check to make sure that your lights are rated for outdoor use. Some holiday lights aren’t properly insulated for outdoor use, and may be damaged by exposure to moisture. To prevent your lights from becoming an electrical hazard, always use insulated staples or metal hooks to hang your holiday lights. Be careful not to staple through the insulated wire casing on your lights, since this can present a safety hazard.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Carbon monoxide detector credited with waking Lebanon family who suffered signs of poisoning

By Joey
Saturday, December 5, 2009
LEBANON, Maine — A carbon monoxide detector is credited with waking seven people in a North Lebanon residence early Friday morning who suffered signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities say.All seven people were later hospitalized. They were all part of the same family, including a 41-year-old father, 37-year-old mother and five children, ages 3, 7, 9, 12 and 14. Because of confidentiality laws, authorities were unable to provide the exact address or the identities of the people.Lebanon Rescue and Fire departments responded to a North Lebanon residence to investigate a carbon monoxide alarm going off this morning at 3:51 a.m.

Lebanon Rescue Assistant Chief Jason Cole was first on scene at 3:56 a.m. He found all seven occupants of the home outside in a vehicle awaiting emergency crews. The father of the family told Cole they were showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, including respiratory distress, sore throats, minor headaches and upset stomachs, Cole said in a statement."Fortunately the family woke up because of their carbon monoxide detector and quickly evacuated. When the fire crews arrived, they had readings in parts of the house of 91 ppm, which is a lot higher than it should be. The average reading in the house was 55 ppm and then one area near the propane cooking stove of 91 ppm. This is a great example of why carbon monoxide detectors are critical in every house. The family was sound asleep and the alarm was the only thing that woke them up," Cole said.Due to the family's complaints of illness and the high readings in the home, Lebanon and Shapleigh ambulances took the seven people to Goodall Hospital in Sanford. Lebanon Rescue has responded to seven carbon monoxide alarms and emergencies in 2009. On Feb. 13, a 48-year-old North Lebanon man was transported to the hospital after a serious carbon monoxide exposure while working in his garage. The readings in the garage were nearly 500 ppm and the male was unresponsive, Cole said. Emergency crews were still at the scene at 7:15 a.m. working with the propane company. Acton and Shapleigh provided mutual aid.The Lebanon Rescue Department has safety information and brochures available for residents to read. If interested, contact Chief Samantha Cole at (207) 608-5615 or More information is also available at the department's website,

Police track down suspected GPS burglars

Tom Greenwood / The Detroit News
Troy -- Old fashioned police work has lead to the arrest of two high-tech thieves who may be responsible for dozens of burglaries and break-ins in southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio.
According to police, numerous cities in both states recorded scores of thefts from vehicles during the months of October and November which then invariably lead to burglaries of the victim's homes.
Police said the thieves would target movie theater and restaurant parking lots, stealing GPS and garage-door remote control units from vehicles. They would then use the programmed information in the GPS units to identify the location of victims' homes. The rash of break-ins resulted in cooperative efforts between a number of police agencies who zeroed in on two suspects and their vehicle, a white 1998 Chevrolet pickup truck.
Police officers from the Detroit, Troy, Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Township, Riverview, Rockwood, Trenton and Sylvania, Ohio, police departments began to track the suspects after receiving reports of suspicious pawn activities by the pair.
On Nov. 25, a Pittsfield Township police officer on stake-out arrested the two suspects while a larceny was in progress. One suspect is from Trenton, while the other resides in Rockwood. Both are 23 years old.
The Troy Police Department assisted the Riverview and Trenton police departments with two search warrants at the home of one of the suspects on Nov. 26 and 27.
A large amount of stolen property was recovered at the home, including goods taken from a home in Berkley.
Police believe the pair may be responsible for crimes in Berkley, Clinton Township, Commerce Township, Dearborn Heights, Grosse Pointe, Livonia, New Haven, Pittsfield Township, Riverview, Royal Oak, Southgate, Trenton, Troy, West Bloomfield Township, Wixom, Woodhaven and Sylvania. (313) 222-2023

Parts of West Michigan See Big Jump in Home Fires

UNDATED -- There has been a big jump in home fires this past year, and it has cost people their lives, their belongings, their biggest investment, and in some cases their freedom.

A rash of large apartment fires in the region has cost hundreds all their belongings. A sudden increase in home fires has cost over two dozen people in Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren Counties their lives in the last year, which is a big jump in the annual statistic.

Many different factors were involved, but more often than not, the homes didn’t have working smoke detectors.

The resurgence of Methamphetamines has also goosed up fire statistics, because the labs can sometimes explode, and take homes with them.

Some hard hit parts of Michigan are reporting a big increase in arsons. Homeowners are torching their places, hoping to cash in on their insurance before the bank forecloses and winding up in jail.

In Detroit, arson fraud has jumped 40% in the last 8 years and if you go strictly by the numbers, we are just entering the worst season of the year for fires.

Ways To Make your Home One that No One Will Be Able To Break Into

December 5th, 2009 Posted in Tools and Equipment
With the economy is such a downturn, the crime rate has risen along with the stress of the people trying to deal with their financial hardships. One particular part of crime that has greatly increased is burglary and theft of private and public property. This article will give different ideas on what you can do to your home to make it safer and to stop it from being the victim of a home break-in. It will mention businesses you should contact to such as a Maryland locksmith or Maryland locksmiths to redo your door locks, an alarm company to install a home alarm system as well as a fencing company to maybe have improved security proof fencing put in .
The first thing you should take a look at in your home is the various doors and windows that may be entered by a robber. If these are not properly locked then it makes it that much easier for someone to get in and out easily to your home. Have a good locksmith come to your house to install dead bolt locks to all of the doors to the home. Regular locks will not do the trick, you should also have a deadbolt to lock your doors. Make sure all of the windows are locked and latched completely as this is a simple method to break into a house too. Once all of the locks are made to be secure, the next step is to contact an alarm company.
There are many alarm companies that can install a home security system, so you may want to meet with several before deciding on one that you want to use. Every home security system is geared specifically for each home but all of them have some common aspects to them. All of the doors and windows are wired to the alarm so if they are opened or broken, the alarm will automatically sound off. If you desire] more security, lasers installed as well to detect anyone moving through their home that should not be there. When the alarm sounds off, the signal will go directly to the police or fire department after it calls the home first to ask for the secret password. If no one answers the call or doesn’t know the password .
A final idea would be to have fencing put in that will deter a burglar easy access in and out of the home. This can also hold a dog which is a large deterrent for a thief too. A fencing company may also install a driveway gate to only allow car access by the hoeowner which is a great safety feature.
With all of these ideas and some common sense, you should be able to live in your home with less worry. If you do not put your guard down, you should live break in free.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 5 Holiday Home Safety Tips for 2009

Help keep your home and family safe this holiday season with these tips from Security Choice.
Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) December 3, 2009 -- The holidays are here and their arrival brings time with family, great food and fun holiday parties. As people fill their homes with gifts and decorations, home security and safety should be at the top of the holiday checklist. Security Choice, a leading online resource for the best in home security systems, offers the following tips for keeping homes and loved ones safe this holiday season.
Keep your home safe this holiday season with these home security tips.
Don’t display big gifts – Giving and receiving gifts is a fun part of the holidays, but if big ticket items like gaming consoles and TV’s end up under the tree, conceal the evidence. Burglars often look for boxes near the trash to give them an idea of what to expect inside a home. To be safe, break down boxes so they fit inside the trash can.
Don’t use holiday lights 24/7 – It’s important to turn off all home holiday lights before going to bed or leaving for an extended period of time. And never hook up one extension cord to another. Purchase extension cords that are long enough to stretch across the room to prevent an electrical or fire hazard.
Do background checks - If carpet cleaners, housekeepers or other home service professionals are in the home to help prepare for guests, check their track record. Many criminals are in a house for other reasons before they return to burglarize it. Make sure to use services that are reliable and never leave spare keys for a repair person or housekeeper.
Activate the home alarm – Set the home alarm system when leaving the house – especially during the day. According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, daytime burglaries increased by more than 6 percent in 2008. Close blinds and put away expensive holiday gifts and valuables.
Leaving town? Leave the lights on – People often think leaving one house light on is enough to make a home look occupied. But it’s just the opposite. Place timers on two or three lights throughout the house so they turn on and off at different times. This gives the home a more ‘lived in’ appearance.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thieves Caught On Tape During Break-In

Thieves Ransack House While Wife Sleeps
POSTED: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
UPDATED: 8:03 pm EST December 1, 2009
DETROIT -- A Detroit man’s home cameras caught thieves breaking into his house Monday while his wife slept inside. Hassan Saad and his wife, Amal, live in the 6000 block of Mettetal Street on the city’s west side.
Hassan said he left his wife sleeping at 10 a.m. while he went to work. Shortly thereafter, the home’s outdoor security cameras showed three men approach the home.
One man is seen walking onto the couple’s porch, looking into the front windows.
Hassan said the men cut power to the home in an attempt to disarm the alarm and cameras before breaking into the home through a window.
Hassan’s wife said she slept through the break-in.
“I didn’t feel nothing at all. I’m lucky I’m alive,” she said.
The home was ransacked and the thieves took televisions, other electronics and jewelry.
“I don’t care about the loss. Thank God I still have my family,” Hassan said.
The couple said this is the second time their home has been broken into, and they’re frustrated.
“I spend too much money on my house just to make it beautiful, make the neighborhood beautiful,” Hassan said. “I don’t think it’s work it now.”
The couple said they hope by making the surveillance images public, someone will recognize the thieves or the thieves will be deterred from another break-in.
The couple also said they are considering moving to Dearborn.

Undercover Officers Patrol Local Stores

Police: Spike In Break-Ins, Theft Prompt More Patrolling
POSTED: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
UPDATED: 8:12 am EST December 2, 2009
WARREN, Mich -- An increase in car break-ins in Warren is prompting police to go undercover in several store parking lots.
Police said thieves have been swiping GPS devices from cars at Universal Mall, the Meijer store at 12 Mile and Mound roads and a strip mall at 11 Mile and Hoover roads.
“We’re looking at electronics … DVD players, CD players. Whatever items of value they can see they’re going after,” said Warren Police Sgt. Dave Geffert.
Police also said there have been an increased number of reports about car theft, mugging, and retail theft in those areas.
Geffert said officers will be watching cars and people.
“If she exits the store, we’re going to make sure she gets to her car safely,” he said.
Police said they are warning women and elderly people to travel in groups and avoid carrying purses or handbags that are easy to grab.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pittsfield Township police arrest 2 suspects in string of auto break-ins, subsequent burglaries

An alert Pittsfield Township police officer arrested two men wanted for questioning in a string of auto break-ins and subsequent burglaries using GPS devices in southeast Michigan, authorities said.
Christopher Michael Cacicedo and Phillip Ray Trivett, both 23, are charged with conspiracy to commit home invasion, larceny from a motor vehicle, breaking and entering in a motor vehicle and possession of burglary tools.
Thieves have been stealing GPS units, registrations and garage door openers from cars, police say. Using addresses on the registrations or programmed into the GPS units, they drive to homes and burglarize them, investigators say. Many of the car break-ins have occurred at venues where people spend hours of their time, including movie theaters or sporting events, police say. That means the thieves have time to take the GPS units and drive to the people's homes before they discover the theft.
Cacicedo and Trivett are under investigation for two incidents in which cars were broken into in Pittsfield Township and homes were subsequently burglarized, said Gordy Schick, the township's deputy director of police services.
A number of other law enforcement agencies across the Metro Detroit area also are investigating, Schick said.
Pittsfield Officer Aja Chung spotted Cacicedo and Trivett next to a white pick-up truck in the parking lot of Showcase Cinemas on Carpenter Road at about 8 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
Investigators had been looking for the truck for weeks, and Chung noticed the vehicle parked next to it had a broken window. Chung also found a garage door opener underneath the truck. It had been taken from the other car, police said.
She arrested the men with assistance from other officers.
It's unclear whether the men have attorneys. Attempts this afternoon to contact their family members were unsuccessful.
Schick said he's relieved the two are in custody.
"These are two guys you would not want around during the holidays," Schick said.
Cacicedo of Trenton and Trivett of Rockwood are being held at the Washtenaw County Jail. Cacicedo is being held on $25,000 bail, and Trivett is being held on $20,000 bail, jail officials said.
Cacicedo has previously been convicted of charges including breaking and entering into a vehicle, state Department of Corrections records show.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for Reach him at (734) 623-2527 or email at

Flint Township woman loses more than $4,700 in mystery shopper scam

By Laura Angus Flint Journal
November 27, 2009, 9:56AM
FLINT TOWNSHIP, Michigan — Laurie’s husband had just died and she was desperate for some extra cash when she heard about a way to make some online.
The 46-year-old Flint Township woman, who declined to give her last name, signed up to be a mystery shopper and received a check for nearly $5,000 on Oct. 23. She was instructed to deposit the money and make two wire transfers — leaving her with a payment of $250.
“I needed some extra money ... and I just fell right into this,” she said.
Days later, she got a call from her bank telling her the check was bogus — and she was $4,700 in the hole.
Tim Burns, public affairs director Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan, said counterfeit checks and money orders are becoming a huge problem because scammers can buy affordable printers that will print documents that can “fool even the banks.”
Burns said people should be wary if someone gives them a check for more than needed and ask for the extra cash to be returned or wired back.
“That should be a real warning sign,” he said.
Another scheme sees the scammer send a check for more than needed only to say later it was a mistake and ask for the victim to return the rest or extra cash is needed to cover taxes, he said.
“A lot of people get caught up in this because sometimes you get some pretty legitimate excuses for why they want you to do this,” he said.
Scam artists understand the deadlines banks have for giving people cash when they deposit a check, but it often takes a couple of days after those deadlines for the bank to determine whether a check is valid, he said. “They don’t need to hook everyone, they just need to hook a couple of people to make a lot of money.”
As the holidays approach, there will be scammers out there “hiring” people to wrap gifts and mail them overseas, said Burns. In these scams, the money used to buy the gifts comes from stolen credit cards or bad checks and the person who falls victim to the crime helps the scammers get the items out of the country where they are sold.
“They come up with a new angle every week on these things,” he said.
David McGrain, vice president of marketing for the Flint-based Financial Plus Federal Credit Union, said the credit union sees three or four counterfeit checks like this per week.
“There are an awful lot of (fraudulent) checks going around,” he said.
He urged people to talk honestly with bank or credit union employees when they get a check they’re not totally sure is legitimate and follow their bank’s advice.
“I think a lot of people really feel like they’ve been pretty gullible after the fact,” he said. “We wish they would think ‘am I being gullible’ before the fact?
Laurie said she thought the offer seemed legitimate, and had she not been in a financial bind, she said she would have been more cautious. She said she has always urged friends to avoid falling into similar traps, and will be more vigilant in the future.
“Just be very, very cautious because I really, really don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she said.

Surveillance Cams Catch Teenage Thieves

INKSTER, Mich. (WXYZ) - Two young men are locked up after police say they were caught on tape removing items from a woman's home.Officers say the 15-year-old and 17-year-old suspects were caught on the surveillance cameras at the home they're accused of robbing. The teens can reportedly be seen crossing the yard and then entering and leaving the home. Officers say the took a laptop, a big screen TV and the cables from the TV.The teens were taken into custody within 45 minutes of the time the woman reported the robbery. Police believe they are behind at least one other robbery in the area. They are asking people who think they may have been hit by the teens to come forward.The two suspects are currently locked up on 2nd degree home invasion charges. The 17-year-old is in custody at the Inkster jail. The 15-year-old is at the Wayne County Youth Home.

Murder Suspect Could be Headed to Michigan

(WXYZ) - A man accused of killing four family members in Florida on Thanksgiving could be heading to southeast Michigan. The alert for this suspected killer was put out Friday night by Birmingham Police. Police say 35-year-old Paul Michael Mirhage opened fire on his own family in Jupiter, Florida, Thursday night just after the Thanksgiving dinner. They say he was an invited guest who walked outside and came back in and started shooting, killing his twin 33-year-old sisters; one of them was pregnant Mirhage is also accused of killing a 79-year-old aunt and a 6-year-old cousin who was already in her bed.
Prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder for Merhige on Saturday night and a $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.
Police in Jupiter, Florida, and in Birmingham, Michigan, have put out an alert, because Mirhage is on the run and believed to be heavily armed. He may have lived in the Birmingham area for a short time within the past year or so, and may have seen a doctor here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two men arrested after home break-in

Thursday, November 26, 2009
By Danielle Quisenberry -- 768-4929
Two men are facing criminal charges after police said they broke into a Napoleon Township home Tuesday morning and assaulted the female occupant. The men entered the home in the 6200 block of Brooklyn Road, near Wells Road and the county gravel pit, and hit the 49-year-old woman, according to a township police news release. Police said a metal flashlight was used as a weapon.
The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Allegiance Health. The severity of her injuries was unclear Wednesday morning.
The pair took several items, including a rifle, and left on foot through an area thick with trees, brush and swamps.
Officers, called to the scene about 10:55 a.m., went looking for the suspects. Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Easter and his dog assisted. Undersheriff Tom Finco arranged for a Michigan State Police helicopter to further assist the effort, but the men were arrested before the helicopter arrived, according to the news release from township Chief Michael Curry.
The two went west, got a ride from Moon Lake Road, were followed by off-duty township Officer Christopher Desnoyer, and stopped by a state police car on South Street near Hoyer Road.
A hunter, who had earlier seen the alleged culprits, was later contacted and helped police find some items taken from the house, the flashlight and a T-shirt, which had been used to wrap one of the suspect's hand after he hurt it breaking a window.
Napoleon Township police also were assisted by Columbia Township police and Leoni Township public safety.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ypsilanti Sees 3 Break-Ins In 2 Days

No One Hurt In Break-Ins
POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2009
UPDATED: 7:19 pm EST November 22, 2009
YPSILANTI, Mich. -- Ypsilanti police have issued a warning to the community after three home break-ins are reported in a two-day period.

Friday, girls inside the Sigma Delta Tau sorority house on Normal Street, near the campus of Eastern Michigan University, called police after seeing a man trying to get into the house through a window at about 9:45 p.m.
The girls scared the intruder away but were unable to give police a description.
The following morning at about 4:50 a.m., police said residents in a house in the 200 block of North Summit heard someone trying to open a door. Police said the residents were able to secure the door, preventing a man from getting inside.
The intruder in that case is described as a white man who is about 20 years old with blond hair. He was wearing orange pants and a dark-colored shirt.
Police said later Saturday evening, residents of an apartment in the 1400 block of Gregory Street confronted a man who had broken in.
The man in that case is described as a tall white man with wavy brown hair. He was wearing a white shirt and jeans.
The Ypsilanti Police Department is investigated all incidents.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 734-483-9510.
Eastern Michigan University Police can be reached at 734-487-1222.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Neighbors work together to take care of vacant homes

Eric Blount, 51, an accountant at DTE Energy, spent the spring and summer mowing grass at his own yard in Detroit's Sherwood Forest and also at the large corner lot next door.
And when a real estate agent nailed plywood over the ground-floor windows of the vacant, foreclosed home next door, Blount went over and painted the wood white to match the white-painted brick exterior.
"It doesn't pay to just look and not do anything," Blount said.
The foreclosure epidemic, while devastating to home values and the quality of life throughout the metro area, has created bonds in neighborhoods hit hardest.
"Having this large a number of vacant homes and knowing no one is going to fix it, brought us together as neighbors," said Gail Rodwin, who heads the vacant homes committee in Sherwood Forest.
In Warren, Mayor Jim Fouts and the Police Department are working to reduce crime, increase blight sweeps, host foreclosure-prevention workshops at City Hall, and fire up dormant neighborhood associations to keep a handle on foreclosures.
"We are doing everything we can to help people to avoid foreclosure," Fouts said.
In Indian Village, residents place baby monitors in vacant homes to stop break-ins and in other neighborhoods, some residents pool funds to buy foreclosed homes and keep them from deteriorating, said Emily Billings, an agent with Dwellings Unlimited in Southfield.
In the Boston-Edison neighborhood, the association's Web site promotes homes for sale, and it recently received a Kresge Foundation grant to help preserve abandoned property in the area, said Pam Malone, incoming president.
The Sherwood Forest vacant homes committee was created earlier this year to deal with the large number of vacant homes. Rodwin said she first triesto reach the Realtor to find out which lender owns the property. Lawyers in the neighborhood also lend their expertise to find and hold accountable owners.
If no one maintains the property, block captains step in as house monitors. Luther Bradley, 54, works in sales for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and oversees the block captains in Sherwood Forest.
His philosophy is simple: "Your neighborhood is as good as the neighbors." So he doesn't mind spending his free time keeping up the foreclosures from picking up debris to mowing the grass.
"I love this neighborhood. It is the jewel of Detroit," he said. "When people come to my neighborhood, I want them to say 'Ooh, aah,' not 'Oh, no.' "

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mundy Township Police arrest burglary suspect

By Dean Bohn
November 10, 2009, 2:35PM
MUNDY TWP., Michigan — An alert Mundy Township resident called police shortly after noon Tuesday, leading to the arrest of a burglary suspect, said police Chief James Petres.
The chief isn’t sure if the suspect, a Flint man, has connections to other break-ins in the area, but are investigating.
“Since Aug. 1 we’ve had 26 burglaries in the township, it’d be nice to clear some of these up,” he said. “It’s not just us, everywhere in the county burglaries are way up. I’m sure the economy has something to do with it.”
In Tuesday’s bust, a person along Fenton, south of Grand Blanc, saw a suspicious person leaving a home and leave in a vehicle. The witness called police while following the suspect. Less than two miles away, Sgt. Chris Piazza, coming the opposite way, stopped in the middle of Crook, near Fenton, blocking the path of the suspect. Piazza arrested the suspect without any resistance.
Police impounded the vehicle, which belongs to the suspect, and are sorting out the items inside to see if they belong to the suspect or are declared stolen from elsewhere.
Police at this time did not want to comment on if the suspect has prior convictions.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2nd break-in reported this week in Eastern Michigan University residence hall

A thief or thieves entered an unlocked Eastern Michigan University dormitory room early today while the students were sleeping and stole several belongings, campus police said.
It was the second break-in of an occupied room at Phelps Hall this week.
EMU issued a crime alert about the incident, which occurred between 4:30 and 7:15 a.m.
The room was entered while the residents were sleeping; there were no signs of forced entry, the crime alert said. When the residents woke up, they noticed two laptops, two cell phones, cash, a PS3, and three video games were stolen.
Police said the residents didn't see anyone entering or leaving the room.
The Department of Public Safety is asking anyone with information to call (734) 487-1222 or at the anonymous tip line at (734) 487-4847.

Man breaking into home on Flint's north side shot and killed by homeowner

By Melissa Burden Flint Journal
November 07, 2009, 1:57PMFLINT, Michigan — A man who was breaking into a home on W. Bishop Avenue, just west of King Avenue, was killed this morning when the homeowner shot the intruder, police said.The homeowner was talking on the phone to another family member about 10 a.m. when he thought he heard something at the back door, police said.“The suspects had already broken down the back door,” said Flint Police Lt. TP Johnson.Johnson said two people had broken into the home. The homeowner was able to get a gun away from one of the intruders, which the homeowner used to shoot one of the intruders, who died, Johnson said.The homeowner was not injured and is cooperating with police, Johnson said.Police are not yet releasing the name of the man who was shot but Johnson said he appears to be in his 20s.Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Bill Meyer at (810) 237-6929 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 422-JAIL.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How To Protect Your Jewelry While on Vacation

--(Business Wire)-
-(NAPSW)-Whether you`re traveling with your own jewelry or giving it as a holidaygift, jewelry insurance could be worth its weight in gold.

"Airport and hotel lobbies are frequently very public spaces that create a falsesense of security," says David Sexton, vice president, loss prevention, JewelersMutual Insurance Co. " We've had reports of thefts that occur as travelers arechecking in and momentarily can be caught off guard. They merely set their luggage on the floor and when they look down it's gone."

In fact, when jewelry is reported missing, the top reasons given include "I lostit at a hotel" and "I lost it while traveling." Jewelry insurance can coverpieces from wedding and engagement rings to heirloom necklaces that are lost,damaged or stolen, and it can cost less than you might expect. You can apply forthe insurance online or through a jeweler, and certain homeowners insuranceplans may cover jewelry, though they often cover only a small amount unless youpurchase a separate rider to cover your favorite pieces and gifts.

That`s why many people instead opt to work with specialty insurance providers such as Jewelers Mutual, the nation`s only insurer to specialize in jewelry. You can visit the company`s Web site at to get a freequote and access an online calculator to determine how much coverage you might need.

Founded in 1913, Jewelers Mutual offers these tips for safeguarding jewelry whenyou travel:
• Only bring what you wear every day.
• Consider wearing faux pieces when you travel, but remember that even fauxpieces may make you a target for theft.
• Never leave jewelry in your luggage to be transported by airlines, cruiselines or other public transportation.
• Store unworn jewelry in the hotel`s safe deposit box, not the safe located inyour room.
• When swimming, fingers constrict, making it more likely your ring will falloff. Rather than risk losing it, leave your ring in the hotel`s safe depositbox.
• Insure your jewelry to assure that you can replace it if it is lost, stolen ordamaged.

For more tips and information on jewelry insurance, or call (800) 558-6411.

Guardian Alarm Teams With NeighborNet To Help Community

NeighborNet Inc., who has teamed with Guardian Alarm, is helping neighborhood watch groups find crime with high tech weapons that are featured on WDIV news. Follow the link below to watch the story.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Elderly couple, son die in house fire

Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Ann Arbor -- An elderly couple and their son died in a house fire on the city's west side Sunday.
Firefighters were finishing up from responding to another fire call when they were called to a home on the 1700 block of Waverly Street. When they arrived at the home around 3 a.m., they found it engulfed in flames. Within five minutes of their arrival, the walls and roof of the structure collapsed.
Fire officials did not release the names of the victims, but they were identified by neighbors as Demetri and Joanna Alexandropoulos and their 42-year-old son John. According to public records, Demetri Alexandropoulos was 78 and Joanna Alexandropoulos was 82.
Neighbors said it was hard for firefighters to get to them.
"The home was so engulfed in flames that (firefighters) couldn't get in," said Barbara Richter, a longtime neighbor of the victims.
An initial search of the home did not turn up the victims. But a later search by Ann Arbor firefighters, police and Michigan State Police investigators using cadaver dogs found the victims Sunday afternoon.
Richter said fire investigators told her the fire may have started in the basement of the home.
Demetrius Alexandropoulos was a chef who used to own a restaurant on State Street near the University of Michigan campus called Joanna's. He also worked at Jonathan's restaurant on Jackson Street, according to Richter. (313) 222-2027

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Police: Man Dies From CO Poisoning

Investigators Say Dead Raccoon Blocked Ventilation In Furnace

POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2009
UPDATED: 8:04 pm EDT October 27, 2009

TROY, Mich. -- A 92-year-old man died from carbon monoxide poisoning sometime over the weekend and a wild animal is to blame, Troy police said.
Officers were sent Monday to the home of Frederick William Braga on Binbrooke Street after a friend called police to say Braga had not shown up for a brunch meeting.
Police said officers and paramedics detected a strong odor in the house and a black residue throughout the home.
Braga was found dead in his basement, police said.
City investigators said they found a dead raccoon in the home's furnace, which likely blocked exhaust vapors from leaving through a vent pipe. Investigators said the blockage caused a build up of carbon monoxide in the home.
An autopsy Tuesday confirmed that Braga had died from CO poisoning.
Police said Braga was last seen alive Saturday evening by a neighbor, who said the man doesn't have family in the area.
Police said no carbon monoxide or smoke detectors were found in Braga's home.

Follow link for chimney safety video:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fox2 News features Guardian Alarm and Neighbor Net's Community Crime Fighting Program

High Tech Neighborhood Watch
Updated: Saturday, 24 Oct 2009, 6:46 PM EDTPublished : Saturday, 24 Oct 2009, 6:27 PM EDT
MT. CLEMENS - Residents say criminals have been taking over their Mt. Clemens neighborhood.. Rosanna Ondra of the Kendrick Area Neighborhood Watch Group says "I had someone come in the back door, they stole my daughter's bike and then my neighbor's house was broken into." The people who live here, tell us enough is enough. They formed a neighborhood watch and they are taking things a step further. On Saturday they held a fundraiser to buy cameras that can be placed throughout the park and neighborhood. The Macomb County's Swat Team was on hand to support their efforts. This watch group is a little different. Cyber space is playing a big role.
Click on the link to see Fox 2's Ronnie Dahl's full report.
To learn more about watching your neighborhood online click on the link

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Resident watchdogs can reduce burglaries

Laurie Wink
The News-Dispatch
Burglary refers to unlawful entry of a home, business or other place with intent to commit a crime. Usually, no one is present when a burglary occurs unlike robbery, which involves the use of force or fear to get someone's property. Burglars often act alone, Neitzel said, and sometimes small groups of juveniles act as a team. Flat-screen TVs are hot items now because they are light-weight and easy to sell for a hefty price. "Unfortunately, most people have them in the living room, facing the front of the house," Neitzel said, making them easy for burglars to spot.Neitzel said the best way to head off burglaries is to have an active neighborhood watch group with people who will call police when they see something unusual. Officers would rather check out a situation and find out everything is OK than not be called, Neitzel said."Pay attention to what goes on at the neighbor's house and report it to law enforcement," he said. "We've made some arrests where members of the public should have had a red flag and never called the department." Assistant Chief John Kintzele agreed successful arrests are made when people in the neighborhood make calls."The odds of a patrolman knowing someone is not in the right place is like hitting the lottery," he said.George Neagu, president of the Village Green Neighborhood Association, said Village Green has ranked among the top safest neighborhoods in Michigan City since he organized the group in 2003. "I felt we could do more as a group than as individuals," Neagu said. "We encourage more talking with each other in the neighborhood. We work really hard at that."He said Village Green residents value the neighborhood and feel part of it.Rich Murphy, president of the Elston Grove Neighborhood Association, said residents communicate directly to Sgt. Chris Yagelski, who attends monthly neighborhood association meetings and has a strong relationship with the community. "Residents understand they are the eyes and ears of the community," Murphy said. "The police can't do it all by themselves." Murphy said the Elston Grove residents have talked about the recent increase of burglaries in Michigan City and about ways to prevent them."Much of the prevention is common sense," Murphy said, running down a list of actions including: locking doors and windows; documenting serial numbers on property; and, most important, calling the police or the crime tip hotline when a resident sees something suspicious.Kintzele recommends calling police if someone knocks on the door and asks for a person you don't know, or offers to rake leaves but doesn't have a rake. They're trying to find out if anyone is home, he said. "About a third of burglaries are done by people who've visited your place," Kintzele said. To be prepared in case of a burglary, police advise homeowners to keep records of makes, models and serial numbers of their items and, if possible, to videotape them for later identification. Kintzele recommends filing out warranty cards included with big ticket items because manufacturers keep the information on file. Pawn shops in Michigan City are required by law to fax a daily list of items received to the police department so they can be compared with burglary reports. Having the necessary identification information improves the odds that items will be recovered. "If the information is there, it gives us the best chance to return items to the owner," Neitzel said. "There are times when we recover something but don't know who it belongs to." The pawn shop lists can help police identify burglars if the same name continues to come up. Neitzel is confident that most burglars will eventually get caught."You don't commit crimes repeatedly and not get caught," he said. "The percentage is high of being caught if they repeatedly do what they do, or if something leads us to them."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween safety tips make for spooky, fun celebration

Ghosts, ghouls and monsters aren't the only things to be afraid of this Halloween. Accidents and mishaps increase dramatically when children are out trick or treating. Anytime a child has an accident, it's tragic, and the last thing you want to happen is to have your child hurt on such a fun-filled holiday, ruining it in their minds forever.
“To avoid the many dangers children face while trick or treating, the first thing to use is your common sense,” said Lt. Denny Hughes of the Farmington Hills Fire Department. “Be aware of potential hazards and take the necessary precautions to eliminate them. You may want to consider attending an indoor party, and bypass the traditional chaos on Halloween night. In any event, trust your instincts. If it seems like it's wrong or a bad idea, it probably is,” he added.
Every possible hazard can't be covered, but here are some tips that will hopefully make for an enjoyable evening for everyone:
Try to wear flame retardant costumes if possible.
Try on your costume before wearing it. Then alterations can be made so that it actually fits and doesn't drag on the ground, causing you to trip.
Find a costume with lots of reflective trim on it.
Avoid masks if possible and use face makeup. This will allow for better vision in the darkness.
Make-up should be hypoallergenic and non-toxic.
Wear comfortable, practical shoes.
Keep all parts of your costume away from an open flame.
Don't carry fake swords, guns, knives or similar accessories that look authentic. If you do, be sure they are rubber, flexible and cannot harm anyone.
Carry a flashlight or glow stick so that you are easily seen at night.

Social media the new crime-fighter

From the break-in at Lindsay Lohan's Los Angeles home posted on YouTube to missing-person Twitter alerts from the Boca Raton police chief, social media sites are being used to fight crime and make our neighborhoods safer.A couple from Atlanta rigged their house with cameras, and after a burglary at the home, they posted the surveillance on YouTube. Word spread, several people viewed the video, and eventually, police were able to catch the burglars, according to a Christian Science Monitor article. Similarly, video of a break-in at actress Lindsay Lohan's house led to an arrest after the footage was posted on YouTube.The Broward County Sheriff's Office website,, has YouTube videos that can be shared. A free service called "Cyber Visor" sends text messages or e-mails if there is a crime or security concern in your area.If you live in Boca Raton or Boynton Beach, you can follow and interact with your police stations on Facebook and Twitter, where they post updates of crimes, safety tips and even ask the public for help.Janet Forte, from Miami, is a social media strategist who is using Twitter, Facebook and blogs to blast messages when people go missing. She started doing so after the disappearance of a friend, Lily Aramburo. Forte has thousands of followers on her Twitter account at media can be used not just to report crime, but also to prevent it.Form a neighborhood watch program and, instead of the old phone tree, create an online group using Ning, Yahoo or Google, where you can communicate, share information and get to know your neighbors.Send group messages instantly with Twitter updates and SMS alerts to check up on people, or if you see suspicious activities.If some people in your neighborhood watch group are tech-savvy, they could easily add crime maps, which show data on crimes committed in your neighborhood, and a sex offender locater to identify where accused sex offenders are residing.A great site to search for sexual offenders is, which allows you to receive e-mail alerts when an offender moves to your area and allows you to send Twitter updates about them.Social media has also become the first place people check during disasters. In the recent Southern California fires, people checked in with loved ones on Facebook, posted photos on Flickr and posted news reports on Twitter. Your neighborhood watch group could serve as a way to communicate with neighbors and get news updates during some emergency situations.And of course, follow and fan the Sun Sentinel on Facebook and Twitter for news updates on crime and during an emergency.Seth Liss is's News Community Manager. You may reach him at,0,4585315.column

Easy Ways to Keep a Home Safe While Away for the Holidays

Safety and security is an important concern for many homeowners. Around the holidays, it can be easy to overlook those concerns due to the increasingly busy schedule many people have between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Unfortunately, putting home security on the backburner during the holiday season can prove to be a grievous error. Because extended vacations to visit family and friends are common during the holiday season, criminals often target this time of year thanks to empty homes they know will not be the hub of activity they usually are. To safeguard your home while you're out of town this holiday season, it's best to take a few precautionary measures to make a home less appealing to prospective burglars and criminals.
* Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up the mail. If your home doesn't have a mail slot in the front door, a telltale sign that you're away is an overstuffed mailbox. Before you leave, arrange to have your mail, newspapers and flyers picked up by a neighbor or friend. If you can, arrange to have newspaper delivery suspended for the duration of your trip. If you can't find someone to pick up your mail, you can ask the local post office to suspend delivery while you're out of town.
* Leave some lights on, including the Christmas lights. If your beautiful Christmas lights display glows in the weeks leading up to Christmas but then suddenly disappears once the holiday arrives, thieves can probably determine that your house is empty and therefore a good target. By leaving a kitchen light on inside your house and keeping your Christmas lights on a timer, you're at least giving the appearance that someone is home, and a yard illuminated thanks to your decorative lights makes it much more difficult for potential thieves to creep around your house under the cloak of darkness. Be sure to string up some lights in the backyard as well.
* Secure all windows. Along with making sure your windows are locked, hang thick curtains or blinds in all windows. These make it difficult for prospective burglars to see into a home and look for valuables as well as determine if the house appears lived in or not. And just as with sliding patio doors, make sure any sliding windows have similar anti-lift protection.
* Give someone you trust a spare key to your home. Never leave a spare key in the familiar places, such as under a doormat or in the mailbox. Chances are, even the most incompetent burglar is skilled enough to look under the mat or in the mailbox. Instead, give a key to a neighbor you can trust or a family member. Homeowners who just moved into their new digs should replace the keys and locks immediately, since there's no telling who might have had access to your home before you lived there. * Join or start a neighborhood watch. Many neighborhoods today feature a neighborhood watch program where any suspicious activity can be monitored and reported to police by your neighbors when you're home or away. Particularly when you're out of town, this is a great way to provide yourself with some peace of mind. If you neighborhood doesn't have a watch program, ask the neighbors if they would be interested in one. If so, consult with the local police department for tips on making your neighborhood watch as successful as possible.
* Light all of the entrances. Keep each and every entryway well lit while you're away. Doing so makes it harder for prospective burglars to inspect a home and break in. This is even more important for homeowners who do not decorate their homes with Christmas lights. Also, before leaving for an extended period of time, remember to replace all light bulbs with fresh ones, assuring that your lights will burn brightly throughout the duration of your vacation.
* Take good care of the lawn. A great place for a burglar to hide and go unnoticed is in bushes that are not well trimmed. Take this option away from him by making sure all of bushes have been trimmed neatly so he doesn't have easy access to a hiding spot he can use to scope out your house, even while you're home. It's also wise to strategically plant security bushes near any potential points of entry for a burglar. Placing a rose bush, for instance, near all ground floor windows is a serious deterrent for a potential burglar since rose bushes, while beautiful when in bloom, are also loaded with thorns.
* Put away patio furniture and other backyard tools. Household items strewn about the yard could facilitate a burglary. Ladders, chairs and boxes should be stored in a locked shed or garage, as a burglar can simply use the ladder to climb up to a second story window. Also, simple garden tools can be used to break windows or shimmy open doors, so lock those away as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

State police seek input from residents to solve rash of break-ins in southwest Lapeer County

By Liz Shaw Flint Journal
October 16, 2009, 8:27AMLAPEER COUNTY, Michigan — State police are warning residents to be on the alert and take extra precautions due to a rash of home break-ins that have been occurring recently in southwest Lapeer County.
About 10 break-ins have occurred since the beginning of October, said State police Detective Mark Reaves. Most have been in four townships: Lapeer, Metamora, Elba and Hadley. The majority have been in Hadley and Metamora townships.
Evidence has led police to believe at least some of the break-ins are connected. All have been daytime crimes, with entry typically gained through a broken window.
"We're asking people if they see any suspicious activity to report it," said Reaves. "If somebody knocks on your door and when you answer it, they ask a dumb question or anything raises a red flag, try to get the license plate and a description of them and the vehicle and call 911.
"That's what these criminals do. They go from house to house and if someone's home, they'll move on to the next one."
Keep all doors locked and make sure alarm systems are in good working order, said Reaves. Don't store valuables in obvious, common locations such as a jewelry box or top dresser drawer.
So far, the thieves have stolen mostly jewelry, cash and other small items in the current break-ins.
"The people committing these (break ins) are not doing it to feed their families. They're doing it to feed their drug habit," said Reaves. "Don't let the hard times we're in fool anyone. They're breaking the law to feed their drug habit and they won't stop until they get caught."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Teen arrested in attempted home invasion

By Liz Shaw Flint Journal
October 15, 2009, 7:51AMFLINT, Michigan — Police were called to a break-in in progress at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday at a home on Winthrop Blvd. south of W. Pierson Road.
Whiile enroute to the scene, a police dispatcher relayed a description of the invader to the officer, and that the suspect had entered the residence through a rear window and was wearing a blue and white coat.
Upon arrival, police observed a basement window on the west side of the house had been broken out and an audible alarm was sounding.
After talking to the witnesses, a 15-year-old male was arrested nearby for attempted home invasion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fire Kills 6 Across Michigan

3 Year Old Dies due to fire started by Candles
Multiple fires across the state have lead to fatalities due to fire in the residential setting. 4 fires have killed six people on separate occasions accross Michigan. It seems that many of the fires occurred in homes with smoke alarms that were either not working or were not heard at the time of the fire, although none of the homes was protected with residential sprinklers.
Remember as we head out of fire prevention week, it is critical for us to continue to promote working smoke alarms, proper operational response with active fire prevention efforts. Our condolences for the loss to the various communities, families, and responding fire department
The first fire last Tuesday night killed a Madison Heights man in his room off the garage. According to the Detroit Free Press, the fire may have been started by a cigarette and was called in by the mans grandson. Firefighters arrived to find fire in the area of origin and the man trapped inside.
The second fire occurred in Lee Township on the West Side of the state. The living room caught on fire, where 9 people were staying. Rescuers and family members attempted to save the 3 year old but were unsuccessful due to the heave fire. According to Fox 17 news, the fire was accidentally started by candles that were being used to light the home that was without power.

Monday, October 12, 2009

10 home-maintenance tasks to do before winter hits

Scripps Howard News Service
Here's my top-10 "fall maintenance to-do" list to guide you toward needed repairs before winter's onslaught forces you indoors.
1. Before you use any fossil-fuel-burning appliance — such as a gas- or wood-fired furnace, stove, boiler or fireplace — the chimney, vent or flue needs to be inspected for blockages or damage. A damaged flue is hazardous and can lead to carbon-monoxide poisoning or, in the case of a fireplace or wood stove, a house fire. Hire a professional to inspect the venting systems.
2. Change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors. Smoke alarms should be replaced every five years.
3. Visually inspect the roof and gutters for signs of damage or leaks. Clean the gutters and extend the runoff drains at least 6 feet from the home's foundation. Roof repairs should be made before the temperatures drop and the damp weather makes proper repairs almost impossible.
4. Have the home's heating system inspected and serviced for optimum operating efficiency and safety. If you heat your home with a gas- or oil-fired furnace or boiler, the flames and oxygen levels should be adjusted and the heat exchanger inspected for cracks or damage. Heat pumps need to be cleaned, and refrigerant levels checked by a qualified service technician. Fans, switches, capacitors, circuits and reversing valves also need to be inspected in operation.
5. Change furnace filters. Why is this on a fall maintenance list? A dirty filter is the No. 1 cause of inefficiency for a forced air heating/cooling system. A dirty filter blocks airflow through the fan, which can damage not only the fan, but also the outside unit of a heat pump/air conditioner. In addition, a clean filter delivers cleaner, healthier air to the home.
6. On these cooler days, it would be a good idea to check the insulation in the attic. Heat rises, and a poorly insulated attic allows all that expensive warm air to escape through the roof. The summer storms can blow through an attic, creating huge piles of any type of loose-fill insulating materials. Use an extending paint pole with a roller attached to spread the loose insulation evenly. Call your local building official to see how much insulation is needed for your area, and add more if necessary. Approximately 95 percent of the attics I inspect need additional insulation just to meet minimum standards.
7. Inspect the openings around exterior windows, doors and any other crack or opening on the wall of the home. Homes constructed after 1980 should have a thermal barrier of insulation inside the walls, but cracks and openings on the outside allow cold air to bypass the insulation and cool the home. Caulk and seal any opening you can safely reach. Replace any cracked or broken glass.
8. Remove garden hoses, and drain and store for winter. A hose left connected to an outside faucet can cause the faucet to freeze and break inside the walls of the home. Every time you use the faucet after it has been damaged, it will leak to the interior of the home. The leak will be out of sight and can, therefore, cause a lot of damage before the problem is discovered.
9. Replace the outside light bulbs. If Murphy is right, and he usually is, your lights will go out under the least favorable conditions for replacement. Any light bulb that has a standard screw-in "Edison"base should be replaced with one of the newer CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs to save energy.
10. Inspect the foundation crawlspace of your home. Problems with plumbing leaks, flooding, decayed wood, damaged insulation, pest entry, damaged ductwork, etc., often lurk in the crawlspace where no one wants to go. A vast majority of the homes I inspect have very few problems in the areas that are occupied and observed daily by the homeowner. It's only when I enter the darkness of a cramped crawlspace that I discover hidden and latent defects that have festered for years out of sight and mind.
If you are unable or unwilling, and most of us are, to enter the crawlspace, hire a professional home inspector to check it for you and to issue a written report of his findings. You can locate a qualified home inspector at
Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home-improvement questions at Sorry, no personal replies.

How does carbon monoxide differ from carbon dioxide, and how do detectors work?

How does carbon monoxide differ from carbon dioxide, and how do carbon monoxide detectors work?

If you burn carbon or things that contain carbon (such as wood, oil, and natural gas) in the presence of enough oxygen, you get carbon dioxide - a molecule made of one carbon atom attached to two oxygen atoms.
If there isn’t enough oxygen (when air flow is impeded, say, by a dirty burner or an inefficient engine), you get some carbon monoxide - a molecule made of a carbon atom and just one oxygen atom.
Think of it as a product of incomplete burning. Indeed, one sign that a flame is likely to produce carbon monoxide is that it’s sooty, or orange or yellow, due to the presence of incandescent bits of unburned carbon. A cleanly burning flame producing little carbon monoxide should be pale and bluish.
The big danger of carbon monoxide is that it binds tightly to hemoglobin and prevents oxygen from being attached to it and transported through the blood to the brain and other organs. Blood, as you probably learned in high school biology, also carries carbon dioxide, but not in ways that prevent oxygen from being transported.
Carbon monoxide is odorless, so if you’re breathing it, the only warnings you get are sleepiness, headache, and nausea, by which time you might be quite badly poisoned. You can easily lose consciousness before you realize you’re in danger. If things haven’t gone too far, fresh air will provide enough oxygen to eventually displace the carbon monoxide, and in this way you can recover.
Some detectors are based on chemicals - sometimes analogs of hemoglobin - that change color when they react with carbon monoxide, and this color change can be used to set off an alarm or be seen directly.
Another approach is based on a sort of battery called a fuel cell, in which a reaction between carbon monoxide and oxygen (in a way, finishing off the incomplete combustion that produced the carbon monoxide) produces an electrical signal. Finally, there are devices in which a heated piece of tin dioxide changes its electrical resistance in the presence of carbon monoxide.
Each detector has advantages and disadvantages, depending on how sensitive and fast it has to be, how much electricity it takes, and how long it will last before it needs replacing.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real risk, so be sure to have properly working detectors in your home.
Ask Dr. Knowledge is written by Northeastern University physicist John Swain. E-mail questions to or write to Dr. Knowledge, c/o The Boston Globe, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819.

Family Fire Safety Tips for Your Community

By Tom Kiurski
Most people place as much importance on family fire safety as they do on rearranging their sock drawers. But when you consider that more than 80 percent of all fire deaths in the United States occur in residences, it just makes good sense to have your community take a few minutes to devise their home fire escape plan.
Here are some things to consider as you work to promote family safety in your community.
Overhead plansMeet groups in your community and have them map out an overhead plan of their homes on a piece of paper and draw in the walls that let them see a "birds eye" view of each room. If they have more than one floor, put each floor on a separate piece of paper.
Have the families mark in the primary escape path for each room in the house, usually consisting of following the door out of a room and out the main door of the house. Then, have them make a secondary escape path, in case the primary path is blocked by heat, smoke and/or fire. This is usually a window out of each room. They need to make sure they open freely, and that the person who normally sleeps in bedrooms can easily open them. An outside meeting place is a necessity.
Smoke alarmsThese are an inexpensive way to get an early warning in case there is smoke in their homes. There is a lot of talk about types of sensing technology, and we should suggest that they spend a bit more on smoke alarms that have "dual sensing technology," that includes both ionization and photoelectric sensing chambers.
There should be a minimum of one smoke alarm per floor, with units outside of any sleeping area. Having more only increases their warning time, so they should avoid a few places prone to nuisance alarms such as bathrooms, kitchens and by fireplaces.
Safety laddersFor those in your audience who have family members who sleep upstairs, and slipping out a window onto the ground is not an option, they should purchase safety ladders. They are compact and fit nicely under a bed or in a closet until needed. They simply hook onto the window sill and can be descended from there. They are available in two- and three-story models, so measure how far from window to ground each homeowner needs and have them purchase the appropriate ladder.
Fire extinguishersThese make good sense to have in any home to extinguish small fires that may break out while citizens are close by. Most home fires start in the kitchen, so it makes great sense to keep one there. If they want to get a few more, the garage and basement are good places to keep them. Suggest they only purchase extinguishers rated for “A, B and C” type fires, as these cover any fire they may have in their home. Teach those in your class and have them pass on to the family how to use them, but ensure they never delay calling the fire department in order to use a portable fire extinguisher.
You should stress to them that the most important part of any family safety plan is practicing the plan with all members of the family present. The hardest part is the few minutes needed to develop the plan, but you can present it as a fun, family assignment. The easy part is practicing it at least twice a year. Tom Kiurski has been in the fire service since 1981. He is the Training Coordinator and Director of Fire Safety Education for Livonia, Mich., Fire & Rescue. He has served as a firefighter/paramedic, engineer and lieutenant prior to his appointment as the training coordinator. He has earned an Associates Degree in Fire Science from Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Tom teaches fire service-related courses at local colleges and fire academies. He has presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis seven times, as well as numerous state and local conferences. He has written more than 250 articles on fire safety education and training that have appeared in various fire service publications.

Deaths focus attention on fire safety

By Rex Hall Jr. Kalamazoo Gazette
October 09, 2009, 11:29PMKALAMAZOO — As National Fire Prevention Week wraps up today, local disaster-relief officials are reminding residents to have a home escape plan and practice it in case of a fire.“You never know,” said Vicki Eichstaedt, spokeswoman for the Greater Kalamazoo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. “It’s just so important.”Eichstaedt’s plea came this week as Red Cross officials were assisting two related families in Pullman who were displaced early Thursday by a house fire that killed 2-year-old Scott Ray Bogseth. Nine other people in the one-story house at 1113 58th St. escaped.Scott, who would have turned 3 today, was the fifth person in a week to die in a house fire reported in southwestern Michigan. A fire that investigators said was sparked by a wood stove that had been installed improperly killed David and Cindy Hoaglin and their 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, on Oct. 1. On Sunday, 48-year-old Michael Guy was killed in a fire at his residence in Allegan County’s Monterey Township.The fire Thursday, which was reported at 12:37 a.m., was most likely caused by “careless candle use,” said Sgt. Scott LeRoy of the Michigan State Police.LeRoy said the fire started in the living room of the 58th Street residence, which had no electricity because of a power outage caused by high winds on Tuesday, and that the room was engulfed in flames by the time it was discovered. Family members who escaped got out of the house through the windows of three bedrooms where they had been sleeping, and Scott had been sleeping in one of the bedrooms with his father, mother and a sibling when the fire started, the sergeant said.“I think what we have to realize is that a fire can happen to us, so obviously we need to be prepared,” State Fire Marshal Ron Farr said Friday. “The two big things are early warning and an escape plan — knowing what to do and practicing it.”To increase home safety in case of a fire, Farr recommends that residents:v Install smoke detectors in each bedroom, in the hallway outside of bedrooms and on each level of a house.v Replace any smoke detector that is 10 years or older.v Have a home escape plan and practice it with family members.v Ensure that escape routes, such as windows and doors are accessible at all times.v Install a mix of ionization smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors in a home. Farr said ionization smoke detectors respond quicker to a fire’s flame, while photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires that produce heavy smoke.According to the National Fire Protection Association, only one in four people have developed and practiced a home-escape plan in case of a fire. The organization said escape plans should be practiced twice a year, and important facets of an escape plan are knowing at least two ways out of every room and having a designated meeting place for family members to go to once they’ve exited the home.

Tips on Burglary Prevention

I’m sure during you life time many of you have been a victim of some type of crime. Many losses in crimes, you would just go through your insurance and it wouldn’t effect or change your life. When it comes to being a victim of a home burglary things change. You feel invaded, you lose jewelry that has sentimental value, savings that is kept in your home, you have the hassle of filing a police report and waiting for the Evidence Collection team to search for fingerprints, etc.
When walking down a street It is not too difficult to figure out who is home and who is away or on vacation. Burglars know exactly what there looking for. The point of these Burglary Tips is to diffuse them by thinking you are home. Please follow these safety tips carefully and hopefully you won’t be the next victim.
If you are planning on being away:
*Stop the mail deliveries with your local Post Office. (Having an overstuffed mail box is a sign that you are not home)
*Have a neighbor collect any flyers, newspaper or magazines dropped off at your door.
*Ask a neighbor to utilize at least one of your garbage cans and to put it out a night before collection as if you would do if your were home. (please remember to ask them to pull back the empty can)
*If the weather is warm leave one air conditioner on fan. (Fan on will defray your electric cost) If you feel uncomfortable doing so with a window unit than you can leave a pail filled with water outside underneath your unit. (This may look like your unit may have just turned off)
*Leave a few radios on in the house. (Kitchen and master bedroom)
*Make sure your shabbos clocks are turning on and off your lights. (A house without any lights on in evening is a sign you may not be home)
*Keep window shades slightly open but not enough for someone to look in to see an unoccupied home.
*Make sure all windows and doors are locked and secure.
*If you have a driveway ask a neighbor to utilize it.
*If you have an alarm make sure to use it. (give a trusted neighbor a key to your house and alarm number in order to shut off if your alarm is faulty)
*Make sure any outside lights you may have are turned on.
*If you have a camera system please make sure it records.
*If you don’t have an alarm, outside lighting, window gates, etc. and would like to upgrade your security options you may call your local precinct Crime Prevention Officer to get a security survey (free of charge).
(Prepared for YWN by Flatbush Shomrim)