Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Candles blamed in house fires

Here's an article that exemplifies the reasons to have a home fire security system.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By John S. Hausman
MUSKEGON COUNTY -- Unattended candles, lit because of windstorm-caused power outages, were believed to be the cause of two different Muskegon County house fires Monday night that did extensive damage.
The first was reported at 7:14 p.m. at 2533 Scenic in Fruitland Township, a one-story wood-frame house overlooking Lake Michigan.
Firefighters from the White Lake Fire Authority, assisted by the Muskegon Township Fire Department, fought the blaze. No dollar estimate of damage was available Tuesday, but the small home's structure appeared to be a total loss while some of its contents might be salvageable, White Lake Fire Marshal Ben Novak said.
The cause appeared to be accidental, Novak said. "We're leaning toward improper candle usage," he said. "The power's out, everybody's using candles to do their thing, and sometimes proper precautions aren't taken."
The homeowner apparently was trying to get a generator started when a candle somehow started a fire, Novak said.
A few hours later, a candle left burning with nobody home was the probable cause of a fire that caused extensive damage to a Muskegon Township house, fire officials believe.
Muskegon Township Fire Chief David Glotzbach estimated the two-story wood-frame home at 1127 Dykstra sustained some $90,000 in damage. The fire was confined to two rooms, but heat and smoke caused damage throughout the residence, Glotzbach said.
The fire was reported at 11:22 p.m. Monday, and Muskegon Township firefighters, assisted by the North Muskegon Fire Department, were on the scene until 1:06 a.m. Tuesday. No one was hurt. The home was insured.
Glotzbach said power was out because of high winds, and the male homeowner, who lives alone, had left the house with some candles burning. When the man returned home shortly after 11 p.m., the fire had started.
Photo * Kendra Stanley-Mills
Muskegon Township Deputy Fire Chief Bob Grabinski works at the scene of Monday night's fire at 2533 Scenic in Fruitland Township. A fire started in the bathroom of the home which sits on Lake Michigan. Power was out in the area when the fire started. White Lake Fire Authority and Muskegon Township Fire along with DTE Energy responded to the scene.
A DTE Energy employee, Lance Johnson, works at the scene of Monday night's fire at 2533 Scenic in Fruitland Township. A fire started in the bathroom of the home which sits on Lake Michigan. Power was out in the area when the fire started. White Lake Fire Authority and Muskegon Township Fire responded to the scene.

Marshals sound alarm for fire prevention week

Area fire marshals are prepping for fire prevention week and urging the public to check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to set emergency meeting places and to keep fire extinguishers near fire-prone areas such as kitchens and garages.
The National Fire Protection Association begins its annual Fire Prevention Week next Monday, a nation-wide program designed to educate children and adults about the dangers of fires. This year's program focuses on preventing burns and keeping homes safe from the leading causes of fires -- cooking and heating equipment.
In Stamford, Deputy Fire Marshal Ted Panagiotopoulos said his office is handing out door hangers reminding residents of one- and two-family homes to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Panagiotopoulos said fire marshals normally only inspect three-family homes and that this program allows them to reach out to smaller homes to urge them to keep tabs on their fire prevention methods.
He said Stamford fire marshals will also visit children and teach them to develop escape plans with their families in the event of emergencies.
Panagiotopoulos advised residents to keep fire extinguishers near kitchens, laundry rooms and utility rooms -- all potentially hazardous areas.
Chief Denis McCarthy of the Norwalk Fire Department said smoke detectors should be put in every bedroom of a house, not just hallways. That way they'll be able to wake up children, seniors and other sound sleepers, he said.
He said the importance of fire prevention week lies in the message it sends to residents -- that 2,755 people were killed in fires in the United States in 2008, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
"We've certainly seen our fair share of that in Norwalk over the past year," McCarthy said, referring to the fire that killed two Burwell Street residents in May.
The Norwalk Fire Department will hold its annual open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Fire Station Headquarters at 121 Connecticut Ave. The event features hands-on demonstrations. For more information, call 203-854-0238.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Traverse City Police Investigate Break-ins

Traverse City police are trying to solve several business break-ins that happened over the past week.They say the first happened overnight Thursday at the Riverine apartments office.A large amount of coins were taken.over the weekend, thieves got into Northland Computers on 14th Street and got away with computers and accessories.Then overnight Sunday, someone broke into day signs on 12th Street and also took a large amount of coins.Police do not yet know if these crimes are related.

Checking for Carbon Monoxide Before Heating Season

The below article recommends bringing in a Heating/Cooling tech before turning on your furnace to check for carbon monoxide leaks. You can also get a monitored carbon monoxide detector to make sure levels in your home are always safe. Guardian Alarm is giving away free carbon monoxide detectors with the purchase of a new life safety security system. Follow the link for more info:

MINNEAPOLIS - As the weather begins to change, there are some safety measures that need to be taken before the heat is turned on.
Dave Koenig, a service technician with Segwick Heating and Air, says its no surprise that his furnace calls pick-up as the mercury drops.
One of his biggest concerns is making sure furnaces won’t leak carbon monoxide into the homes. The poisonous gas was responsible for killing three people in a single Minneapolis home last winter.
A new Minnesota law was enacted this year that requires a Carbon Monoxide detector in every residence. The detector has to be within 10 feet of each bedroom.
It is recommended that you do have your furnace checked out annually to make sure it is running safely and efficiently.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Michigan State Police warn of break-ins in Lima, Lyndon townships

Police are warning residents in western Washtenaw County of a series of daytime burglaries this week.
State Police Sgt. Tony Cuevas said at least three break-ins occurred earlier this week in Lyndon Township, and two occurred Thursday in Lima Township.
The burglar or burglars kicked in doors between 8 and 11 a.m. and stole "whatever they could grab," Cuevas said.
The burglaries occurred in the M-52 and Jerusalem Road area and the area around Joslin Lake.
Cuevas said a resident saw a suspicious man near one of the scenes, but a detailed description of the man was not available this morning.

Security Tips For Closing Your Cottage

One of the most valuable tools in safe-guarding your summer cottage/cabin during the off-season is an inexpensive security camera system that will allow you to see what's happening at your summer home from any internet enabled computer. Guardian Vision is one such camera system that is offered exclusively by Guardian Alarm. For more information visit
See below for other helpful tips in safe-guarding your summer getaway.

Closing the Cottage
It's sad, but it's sadder to come back to a wreckBy MARTA HEPLER
Nancy and Jeff Forrest have been coming to their Lime Lake cottage for 25 years, ever since they fell in love with its simple charm.
The gray-shingled, white-trimmed bungalow is a former fishing camp with just one bathroom. No phone and no cable TV. But there's no place the retired Portage couple would rather be -- at least until late October or early November, when they shutter it for the winter.
"When you take the dock out, it's like, 'We're closing,' said Nancy Forrest, who often spends time at the hideaway with her sister, who's married to Jeff's brother. "It's kind of sad. When the leaves fall, it's the end of the season."
Closing the cottage is an autumn ritual for many in northern Michigan, and one that can produce as much anxiety as loss. For some, it signals an end to a carefree summer and a return to a life of obligation. For others it means the stress of packing up and protecting an empty cottage from weather damage or break-ins.
Lucky cottage owners can hire a professional caretaker to close the cottage and check on it periodically, or can install video surveillance cameras and alarm systems to alert police to trouble.
But if you have to secure your home-away-from-home the old-fashioned way, here are some tips that can help.
-- Turn the heat down, but leave it on so the pipes don't freeze.
-- Invest in a freeze alarm that alerts you by phone when the temperature goes below 45 degrees or if the power goes out.
-- Give your neighbor a spare key and your phone number or hide a key in a safe place in case of emergency.
-- Cap chimneys and tighten vents to discourage animals from getting in.
"We've seen devastation with animals," said Glenn Heiney, of Heiney Maintenance, which provides cottage opening and closing services and security checks in Leelanau County. "We don't really worry about people breaking in, in our area. It's the animals that can cause damage."
-- Leave the doors to all rooms closed in case a bird or other animal crashes through a window or doorwall.
"If we can contain the damage to one room, it's a lot better," Heiney said.
-- Unplug everything that doesn't need to be plugged in, including the stove and refrigerator.
-- Remove all food from the freezer and refrigerator and prop open both doors to keep mildew from forming.
"I've had people leave bread and cheese, and come spring, it's a nightmare," said Steve Bentley of Up North Home Care in Traverse City, which offers cottage care and "cottage watch" services along with remodeling and renovations and glass restoration and replacement.
-- Make the cottage look lived-in by arranging for regular yard care including mowing, trimming and snow removal.
-- Set a few indoor lights on an automatic timer to go on and off at different times. Check outdoor lights to make sure they're working and program them to come on with light- or motion-sensitive switches.
-- Stop mail and newspaper delivery or ask a friend or neighbor to pick it up.
-- Attempt to drain appliances and water lines without professional help unless you know what you're doing. Even a little thing like an ice-maker can cause big damage if it doesn't get proper attention, Bentley said.
"If your house hasn't been winterized, even a handy homeowner shouldn't attempt to try it," Bentley added. "No matter how diligent you are, it's hard to do it right. It's not a good feeling to come back to your cottage and turn on your water and find out there's a leak."
-- Use poison to kill mice that can get in and out of your cottage.
"Other animals can eat the mice and die from the poison," Bentley said.
-- Hide your spare key in obvious places near the front entrance like under a doormat or rock, in a flowerpot or above a door ledge.
-- Post your surname on your mailbox or cottage. A burglar can use directory assistance to get your telephone number then call to find out if you're home.
-- Leave outgoing telephone messages that could tip off a burglar that you're not home.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Michigan man sentenced in bra-clad break-in


GRAND RAPIDS — A Michigan man accused of breaking into a neighbor’s home and rifling through her car while wearing a purple bra and boxer shorts was sentenced today to 6 to 20 years in prison.

Jacob A. Fast, 21, of Sparta pleaded guilty to first-degree home invasion and attempted resisting and obstructing a police officer. Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Leiber sentenced him.
Police say Fast was arrested June 9. A neighbor said her car keys were missing from her house and that she saw Fast going through her car when she called the police.
The neighbor said the bra Fast was wearing wasn’t hers.
Defense attorney Freeman Haehnel declined to comment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ann Arbor Discusses Surge In Break-ins

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Police in Ann Arbor met with residents Tuesday to discuss a surge in home invasions.
The Ann Arbor police said at least 20 homes in the northwest section of the city have been broken-into since May, and many more have gone unreported.
"We need to get our citizens to tighten up and understand that this is bigger than just our community -- it's the economy and there are some desperate people doing desperate things we need to be mindful of," said Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones.
Investigators said the thief or group of thieves strike during the day, while people are at work between the hours of 9 and 6 p.m.
The thief or thieves gain entry to the home by kicking in the front door, pushing up window screens, entering through unlocked doors and cutting window screens.
Cash, electronics and jewelry have been reported missing from the homes.
"I had my bike stolen," Ann Arbor homeowner Kyle Rhodes, but he never reported the incident.
Jones said he believes most, if not all, of the robberies are connected.
A person described as "suspicious-looking" has been seen in the area around the time of a couple of the break-ins.
Neighbors described the person as a black man, between 18 to 25 years old, with a thin to medium build, short Afro and facial hair on his chin.
A few neighborhood watch groups have met with police to discuss how to protect themselves, but the most recent meeting grew into a community-wide event.
"This is Ann Arbor and it's on my watch, so I'm going to pull out all the stops," said Jones.
The original meeting was scheduled for last Saturday, but because the interest was so high and it conflicted with a Jewish holiday, it was rescheduled to Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Community Center, 625. N. Main Street.
Anyone with information can call Ann Arbor police at 734-794-6910.

Personal Safety & Self Defense Website

Check out this website that's filled with great articles and links.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Man charged in burglary case; second sought

A Trenton man who police allege broke into two Brighton Township homes Friday was arraigned Monday while authorities continue to search for another man in connection with the case.
Police arrested Robert Brooks after officers found him unconscious under the deck of one of the homes he's accused of burglarizing.
Brooks, 38 — who apparently passed out from pain after he reinjured a previously broken leg when he ran from officers responding to a home break-in reported shortly before 11 a.m. Friday on Hyne Road — is charged with two counts of third-degree home invasion and one count of resisting arrest.
Brooks, who is jailed on a $25,000 bond, returns to Livingston County District Court on Sept. 30 for an exam conference.
Police said Brooks and his accomplice's fleeing prompted a manhunt involving a helicopter and multiple K-9 units.
Both men are also suspected of breaking into a home earlier in the day on Paddock Estates Lane in Brighton Township.
Meanwhile, police continue to look for an accomplice whom they were able to identify through the Ford Explorer that the men allegedly used in their crime. Police did not release the man's name.

How to start fire prevention and public safety programs

By Bryan Jack
Question: "We are thinking about starting up a fire prevention/senior citizen safety program — do you have any ideas on the best way to get started on this project?"
Public safety outreach and fire prevention programs are probably one of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of the fire service today. These programs can and should play a critical role in your agency and in the community that you serve. After all, the prevention or self mitigation of an emergency situation is a win-win situation for all parties involved. Fire prevention and public safety outreach needs to be a year-round and ongoing process that focuses on all hazards, all age groups and all the demographic features of your district. A one week focus out of the year is simply not enough.
Trends and needs The first steps in designing a successful program are to identify the trends and needs of the area that you serve. If you only responded to one structure fire in the last 20 years but you respond to 20 senior citizens that overdosed on prescription medications in the last 30 days then your focus should probably be on medication safety. You want to tailor the program to meet the specific and unique needs of your area. The only way to determine what your needs are is to identify and review local data. Start by reviewing your internal call data. What types of incidents do you respond to and which incidents do you respond to most frequently? I would also recommend reading and watching local media — newspaper, online, TV — to see if there are any local issues that you could assist in addressing. The bottom line is that you need to identify what the local issues are and then devise a plan to correct those issues.
Population and demographics After you have identified the local issues, you need to identify the population group that these issues are impacting. For example, do you serve a community filled with school aged children, young professionals, or a retirement community? Chances are that you have some of all the categories, but if you look at the available data you may find one group that stands out. Additionally, you need to determine if there is a large population of different or unique cultures residing in your area, as this may also influence the program that you design and implement. Solutions
So, you have identified the issues and analyzed the call trends, population and demographics of your service area. Now it is time to brainstorm some solutions. Remember, there are always multiple ways to achieve your goals, so don't get tunnel vision on just one solution. Some solutions to fire prevention and public safety outreach may include standalone programs conducted through the fire department, a cooperative partnership with the local school district, and programs conducted in conjunction with local businesses or senior groups. Additionally, you could also coordinate and cooperate with other local emergency service agencies to create a regionalized program.
Some program examples include:
Those geared towards school children — E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills in the Home), Proper use of 911, Stop Drop and Roll, Basic fire prevention, bicycle safety and helmet use.
Those targeting middle school through adult age groups — home fire extinguisher use, Firewise, CPR & First Aid, C.E.R.T. (Citizen Emergency Response Team), smoke detectors in the home, child safety seats, motor vehicle/driver safety.
Those targeted towards seniors — medication safety, Vial of Life, Home safety inspections, smoke detectors in the home. Remember to design your program to address a local issue and meet the needs of the population that you serve.
Funding Some programs may require a large amount of funding to design and implement while others can be implemented with little or no cost to the agency. Many national public safety groups provide training materials for next to nothing, if not for free. Furthermore, you could possibly charge a small fee for participation in certain programs — cost of books for CPR training for example. Another alternative is to ask for assistance from local business — maybe the local pharmacy would provide assistance in a medication safety program, for instance. In addition you should identify local grants that may offset your costs and as always you should apply for a Fire Prevention and Safety grant through the Department of Homeland Security.
Implement and communicate Once you have your program designed you need to come up with a plan to implement it. This plan may be as simple as coordinating with the local school district during "Fire Prevention Week." Alternatively, depending on whom your program is targeting, you may need to create and distribute press releases, have a local news article released, attend a senior function and "pitch" your program, or flood the internet and e-mail to get the word out. Essentially, the success of your newly created program will revolve around you getting the word out. You need to create a public relations frenzy and build support and excitement about fire prevention and public safety.
Evaluate, review, and revise Once the program is up and running you need to constantly reevaluate it. Are there improvements that can be made? Is there a different approach that would work better? What are the current shortcomings and how can they be modified and improved? Can the program be expanded or should it be scaled down and more focused on a single topic? Are there other ways to fund or continue the program? Can the program be transitioned to someone else, etc.
Make sure you keep good data for the program as this may help with future funding. At a minimum you need to track the number of people that you contact, the age ranges, positive and negative feedback, cost of the program by number contacted, agency time, resources and money invested in the program and successful outcomes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Police blame at least 3 fires on unknown man

SAGINAW (WJRT) -- (09/18/09) -- Saginaw's latest arsonist doesn't target vacant homes, he targets garages with vehicles inside.
Michigan State Police, Saginaw police and nervous residents in a west-side Saginaw neighborhood believe a serial arsonist is on the loose.
Security video shows him trying to break into cars, but it's what he does after the break-in that has people worried.
"I was scared to death, and I'm still frightened at night," said Julie Watters.
Watters remembers what happened back on September 4 at her Bond Street home. "I was sleeping, and kept hearing noises coming from my garage area."
Her garage was badly damaged in a fire, and her teenaged son's Pontiac Bonneville was destroyed. Police believe the person who started the garage fire is the man caught on a private security video attempting to break into vehicles.
The video was taken from a home just down the street from that garage fire. Police are investigating other, similar crimes. "Right now, we think three, possibly one in Carrollton and two here in the city of Saginaw," Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Jim Bush said.
Bush was referencing three garage fires and car break-ins.
Another home security video from another neighborhood shows the same series of events: A man is seen trying to break into vehicles, and shortly after, a garage goes up in flames.
"He is entering the garages, looking for items he can steal, and just before leaving, either setting fire to the garage or the vehicles in the garage," Bush said.
Investigators are going through neighborhoods, showing the suspect's picture. Resident Carlos Gonzalez thinks he has seen the person. "I've seen him somewhere before in the neighborhood because I used to walk my dog all around this area. I've seen his face before."
Police hope someone recognizes the face before the man strikes again, before something worse happens.
"Who would be crazy enough to set your garage on fire, would be crazy enough to set your house on fire?" Watters questioned.
If you recognize the person in the video, please call the Saginaw Police Department or the Michigan State Police.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Police chief to present Business Crime Prevention Seminar

Boyne City – The Boyne Area Chamber and Boyne City Main Street are offering a free Business Crime Prevention Seminar at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 in the Community Room of the Boyne District Library. Boyne City Police Chief Randy Howard will give advice on how businesses can prevent break-ins, shoplifting and retail fraud. Chief Howard points out that his department also offers free business security inspections, where they will visit a business and provide a list of inexpensive security suggestions. Call the Police Department at 582-6611 to schedule a security inspection at your business.> To RSVP for the seminar, call the Chamber at 582-6222 or email

Homebuilders Vs. Firefighters Over Sprinkler Rules

Virginia - Firefighters and safety advocates say they could triumph over the last bastion of America's fire problem - the family home - if officials require sprinklers in every new home. However, homebuilders warn it's not that simple and could prove a risky decision during a recession, adding thousands to the cost of homes as the housing market starts to recover.State and local officials are now wrestling over whether to adopt building codes that would require sprinklers in every new home and townhome starting in 2011 amid intense lobbying from both sides.The sprinkler debate reached its apex last September when the International Code Council, which sets the minimum safety requirements typically used in 48 states and the District of Columbia, approved the mandate.The proposal had failed for years, but a pro-sprinkler group paid the way for firefighters and code officials to attend the meeting in Minneapolis, where they voted to adopt the mandate. Homebuilders, who previously paid for anti-sprinkler voting members to attend, cried foul and are trying to reverse the decision."We stand on the verge of actually making a significant difference," said Ronny Coleman, a former California fire marshal who pushed through the nation's first sprinkler mandate in San Clemente in the late 1970s and founded the group fighting for the mandate.He called homes the "last bastion of America's fire problem," where 80 percent of fires occur. Nationwide, about 3,000 people die in home fires each year - but fewer than 2 percent of homes have sprinklers.There is no uniform method of adopting the residential building codes. In seven states, it's left up to local governments. In others, either the legislature, housing board or state code official makes the call.The Minnesota-based Residential Fire Safety Institute says 400 localities have passed sprinkler mandates, several going back decades.Since last September, regulators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have tentatively approved the mandate. Michigan and Virginia are leaning toward rejecting the codes, but final decisions aren't expected for months.Meanwhile, homebuilders - traditionally big political donors - have persuaded legislators in more than a dozen states to push bills prohibiting localities from requiring sprinklers. Idaho, North Dakota, Missouri and Texas have approved the bans.Supporters argue sprinklers save property and lives, including those of firefighters who are at a higher risk in new homes built of lightweight, fast-burning materials. This year, 18 firefighters have died fighting structure fires. Supporters also argue the vast majority of fires are quickly contained by only one sprinkler.The cost, which can average up to $2.66 per square foot, can be less expensive than cosmetic enhancements like granite countertops or whirlpool tubs. And insurers typically offer discounts between 5 to 15 percent for homes with sprinklers, according to the American Insurance Association."Unfortunately, safety doesn't sell," said Steve Muncy, president of the Texas-based American Fire Sprinkler Association.In Richmond, Va., homebuilders estimate it would cost more than $5,800 to install sprinklers in a 2,000-square-foot home. Many say that would harm lower-income home buyers."We don't oppose fire sprinklers, we just want to make sure we aren't leaving folks in those crowded, substandard, really dangerous houses," said John Snook with Habitat for Humanity International, which built or repaired homes for more than 6,100 families last year.Many say the cost is worth it.Fire gutted Jimmy Dean's 4,000-square-foot home outside Richmond earlier this year. He doesn't think sprinklers should be required, but he said it's well worth the $14,000 to install sprinklers in his rebuilt home."I hope somebody will look into it and try to stave off what we had to do, because if I said it didn't hurt I'd be lying," said Dean, 81, best known for his 1961 country song "Big Bad John" and the sausage brand he sold years ago.Others argue smoke detectors are less expensive and just as effective in saving lives. A 2008 study published by the National Fire Protection Association says the chances of surviving a fire with working smoke alarms was 99.45 percent."When you continue to have these arbitrary requirements that have significant cost increase with no cost benefit, that's essentially making it to where people can't afford the home," said Steve Orlowski with the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders.Smoke alarms aren't always enough, said Kaaran Mann, whose 18-year-old daughter Lauren Mahon was among seven South Carolina college students who died in a 2007 fire at a beach house in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.Six students survived, and several said a smoke alarm woke them with only moments left to escape.Mann, of Greenville, S.C., has since become an advocate for requiring them in college dorms and homes."If people are told these things do not all go off at once, they do not flood your home just because you burn the bacon ... it's an investment I think people would be more than willing to pay," she said.
Written and photos by Associated Press
Courtesy of YellowBrix

Know what your homeowners insurance covers

While it may not have the intrigue of the latest courtroom drama or the emotion of a romance novel, have you read your homeowners insurance policy lately? Most homeowners I know admit that they have never read their policy.
Even worse, they think their policy covers more than it may, which could lead to serious problems if they need to file a claim.
According to Rick Sovel, an independent insurance agent and partner with the Michigan Community Insurance Agency, (248) 465-6200,, not all policies are created equal.
"I often ask customers if they want a cheap price or good coverage, because a cheap policy isn't so cheap when you find out what isn't covered," Rick said.
In cases of fire, windstorms or even tornados, most insurance policies will cover a homeowner's dwelling and contents. If you accidentally caused a grease fire while cooking in your kitchen, your standard insurance policy should cover those damages. That being said, there are some areas that often are not covered under a standard policy. One of the biggest areas of confusion is water damage.
"If a pipe bursts or a water line breaks, the damage to your dwelling and contents is usually covered," Rick said. "However, if the water damage occurs as a result of a sump pump failure, or a leak in your basement wall, it often isn't covered unless you purchased a rider." A rider is like an addendum to a homeowners policy that covers things that a standard policy may not, or where the standard policy may only cover up to a certain amount. For example, items such as jewelry, furs, antiques or other collectibles may require a rider to provide coverage that is greater than the standard policy coverage.
In the case of a sump pump, it is a smart investment because it often covers if your sump pump has a mechanical failure, you accidently unplug it or the power goes out.
Another issue that many homeowners in Michigan may face is a sewer backup. While a rider can also cover a sewer backup that is the result of a clogged sewer drain, many people assume their standard homeowners policy covers it.
"We see a lot of homeowners who call us to clean up their basement as a result of a sewer backup, and they find out their standard policy doesn't pay for it because they didn't have a rider," said Al David of Emergency Restoration Services in Troy, (248) 299-4500,
In the event that the sewer backup has been caused by a problem with a city sewer system, Al said it is best to start with your insurance company first. Often, it comes down to dealing with a city's insurance company to get a claim resolved. In some cases, it requires a class action lawsuit, as was the case in the past when residents sued several Downriver communities for damages caused by a faulty sewer system.
Insurance companies also don't cover flooding caused by heavy rains, overflowing rivers or lakes. If you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding of this type, flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (800) 621-FEMA,
Homeowners insurance coverage for mold is another gray area. Mold by itself, according to Rick, is not usually a covered loss. However, if the mold was the result of a covered item, such as a flood in a basement caused by a burst pipe or a sump pump failure that you had coverage for, then the cleanup of the mold that resulted from this would be covered, but only to a certain sub-limit established in the policy, such as a $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 limit.
While these are among the more common areas homeowners should be aware of when reviewing their insurance policy, they should also think about other things in their home that may or may not be covered. For example, when the power goes out for a few days, it's not unusual to lose the food in your freezers and refrigerators. Often, cheaper policies don't offer coverage those kind of losses. If it does cover this loss, the limits may be low.
If you can say you honestly know everything about your policy, move to the front of the home improvement class! If you don't know what is, and more importantly, isn't covered in your policy, read it now. Call your insurance agent to answer any questions you have. That's why they're there. Make sure you won't be blindsided if you have a problem that leads to a claim.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his "Handyman Show" on WJR Radio 760 AM at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The show can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.

'Pillow Case' burglars caught after three-county crime spree

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) - Two men called "the pillow case burglars" are in police custody in Muskegon County. They will likely be arraigned on several charges Friday morning. The men are accused of breaking into homes across West Michigan. The Michigan State Police say the men broke into homes in Muskegon, Ottawa, and Newaygo counties. They could be responsible for more than 25 break-ins over the past several months. Each time, they left their mark. The homeowners reported stolen jewelry and missing pillow cases. Patricia King was the most recent victim. She says it all started Wednesday afternoon when she came home from work. "I walked in the bedroom and I noticed there was no pillow case on my husbands pillow." She immediately knew something was wrong. "Two drawers were partly open. I thought that was weird." Someone had entered her home and stolen several pieces of jewelry. "It was very scary. I went uh, somebody's been in my home and rummaging through my stuff." King called police. Turns out, they were already investigating a string of robberies in three counties. For some of the victims, the timing couldn't have been worse. Lt. David Roesler with the Michigan State Police, Grand Haven Post says, "The subjects started entering homes of people who were away at funerals of family members that had passed away. They would break-in while they were at the funerals." Roesler says they thought they knew who was involved, but needed more proof. When they heard about the break-in at King's house, they tracked the suspects down and found exactly what they were looking for. "We ended up catching them, stopping them shortly after the B & E and because of the traffic stop, several items were found with them." The two men are from the Grant area and have a criminal past. When Pat King heard the news that someone had been caught, she was relieved. She felt violated because someone had entered her home. She also says they stole important pieces of her life. Items that can't be replaced. "I would like to see the Navy medals, my wedding bands back. I would like to know they aren't doing this to anybody else." Police did find King's pillow case in the suspects car. They think the men were using the pillow cases to carry the stolen items out of the homes. Police also say that there may be more victims of the "Pillow Case" burglars. Anyone with information is asked to call the State Police Post in Grand Haven at (616) 842-2100.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

10 Trustworthy People Most Likely To Rob You

By Jo Powers - Posted on September 15th, 2009 - 21:33
When it comes to the security and safety of yourself and yourassets, many of us don’t consider the trusted, most unlikely peoplewithin our circle and social circle to be the bad guys. However, theyare just as capable of robbing us as the criminals, intruders andburglars we see on TV and in the movies.
This article isn’t geared towards making you paranoid of everyonearound you. It’s just a reminder that the only people you can reallytrust is me, myself and I. Listed below are 10 of the most unlikely,un-thought of and yet surprisingly, some of the most common thieveswithin our day to day life.
1. Children and Family<-Unfortunately our family are some of the most trusted people in ourlives, and the first ones to do us wrong. Whether it’s your childrenstealing money from your wallet, or other relatives stealing from yourbedroom, the truth is, family is usually the last ones we think wouldhurt us, yet the first ones to betray us.
2. Neighbors and Neighborhood kids<- is adamant about neighborhood watches, andtrusting your neighbors to look after your place when you're out oftown, some neighbors can not be trusted. Unfortunately, this system canwork against you if there is a neighbor who is up to no good. They’rethe ones who are most familiar with our daily schedules, the ones weask to check the mail for us if we’re unable, etc. And if the adultsmisbehave, the possibilities are endless as to what their children cando.
3. Co-Workers<- Most of us, especially ifwe work somewhere for an extended period of time, gain this naturaltrust for our co-workers. We leave our jackets and purses lying aroundwhile we’re busy doing this or busy doing that. Unfortunately, some ofour co-workers have ill intentions and what makes it worse is theunderlying vulnerability we place ourselves in while at work. Althoughdrivers licenses are rarely stolen in the workplace, all it takes is aquick mental note or scribble on a piece of paper and your address isin the wrong hands.
4. Friends and Friends of Trusted Friends<-It happens too many times; You throw a party, a BBQ or a little gettogether and one of your closets friends invites a stranger to comealong. You don’t know this person, yet feel safe with the thoughts thatif your friend trusts them, then you can too. This is one of the worstpositions to be in. You’ve opened your home up to a complete strangerthat you know nothing about, and yet, as the minutes tick by, they seemto get to know you more and more simply based on your collectibles,furniture and pictures hanging on the wall.
5. Utility Installation Workers<-Most companies do their versions of background checks, drug tests andso on to ensure their customers the people they hire are trustworthy.But it’s important to remember that a person doesn’t have to be ondrugs, nor does their background need to include any wrong doing.People are people. Installation workers, whether they’re from thecable, phone, electric or gas company are people, just like you and me.With that said, occasionally and especially when they have access inyour home, these trusted people can become likely suspects in a homeinvasion. All it takes is for them to strike up a conversation withyou, asking “so what are your plans for the weekend?” and if you’rereally excited about the weekend trip of a lifetime you’ve been waitingfor is taking place this weekend, you’re probably going to spill thebeans. While you’re busy thinking about the end of the week, they couldbe scoping out your living room, bedroom, ways to gain entrance, etc.They could also be checking to see if you take home securityprecautions like an alarm system, cameras, dogs, or even window films.If the coast is clear, they could be returning this weekend.
6. Admin and Paper Pushers<-Any document you place your home address on leaves the possibility openfor someone to simply Map Quest your address and make their way to yourhome. This could be at the doctor’s office, dentists, grocery store,bank, veterinarian’s office, etc. Unfortunately these places, althoughhighly thought of, can attract the wrong type of employees. And onceyour private information falls into the wrong hands it could be a callfor disaster.
7. Door-to-Door Salesmen<- Itdoesn’t matter what they’re selling. The moment they knock, and youopen the door, they have a glimpse into your home, and your prizepossessions. Most door salesmen spend a significant amount of time(several days) inside neighborhoods. This gives them a chance to gainknowledge of the neighbors, whose home, who’s not and which neighbor ischecking the other neighbor’s mail or picking up their newspaper sothey don’t build. Door-to-door salesmen, though they are usuallybriefly in our lives, tend to be trusted because of this briefness.Homeowners brush them off without a second thought. But they know whereyou live, they have access to learning your schedule, and they’ve hadat least one chance to get an idea of what’s behind your front door.
8. Landlords and Relatives/Friends of Landlords<-Tenants know that besides themselves and whomever they give a spare keytoo, the landlord has a spare key. Unfortunately, all too often ourlandlords do not do a good enough job of hiding the spare key, leavingit accessible to anyone in their inner circle. Although the landlordsthemselves are generally trusted with our belongings, it’s hard totrust their relatives and friends and anyone whom we don’t know:strangers.
9. Postal Workers<- This could beanyone from the mailman, to the FedEx or UPS driver. I’m not trying togive these people a bad name. Again, they just happen to be people wedon’t consider untrustworthy until it’s too late. They have access toour mail, our deliveries, our subscriptions and our home addresses.
10. Delivery Drivers<-It’s late at night and you don’t want to cook. So what do you do? Mostof us call and have food delivered. It doesn’t matter which type offood, as long as it kills the hunger pain. Unfortunately most mom andpop shops, pizza parlors and even flower shops hire whomever they canin order to get their deliveries delivered on time. So what does thismean? Well, just like with #7, once you open your front door, you openyour home up to a completely trustworthy, yet complete stranger. Thisperson now knows your home address, and unfortunately they know littlethings about you like the size of your TV or entertainment system;things of value.
As mentioned before, thisarticle isn’t meant to put the fear in you so you begin to lack trustfor everyone around you, it’s simply to make you aware of how easy itis for a so-called trusted person within society to break that trustand ruin your life. Trust is a big issue for some of us and it’s nowonder why.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three people charged in string of break-ins in Jackson and Ingham counties

by Danielle Quisenberry Jackson Citizen Patriot
Monday September 14, 2009, 11:58 PM
Three people police suspect have been behind at least nine area break-ins have been charged with home invasion.
Robert Coffey, 33; his brother, John Joseph Coffey, 25; and Robert Coffey's former wife, Jennifer Sue Coffey, 27, were arraigned Friday on a charge they invaded a home in Parma Township. Each faces one count of second-degree home invasion, a felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $3,000.
More charges are anticipated in the next few days, according to a Jackson County Sheriff's Office news release.
The three are accused of breaking into seven homes in Jackson County and two in Ingham County in the past month.
They would knock on doors during the day; if no one was home, they would kick the door or use a prying instrument to gain entry, according to the statement. The three allegedly stole jewelry, electronics, TVs, rare coins, cash, tools and firearms.
Jackson County deputies, assisted by Blackman Township public safety officers, arrested Robert Coffey and Jennifer Coffey on Wednesday after a home invasion in the Leslie area, where a family had returned to find people removing items.
Ingham County sheriff's deputies alerted other police agencies after they obtained a getaway vehicle's description.
John Coffey was arrested the same day in the Vandercook Lake area, Jackson County Undersheriff Tom Finco said.
Robert Coffey already had two open felony cases in Jackson County Circuit Court at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to a separate, second-degree home invasion charge and is awaiting sentencing. He also pleaded guilty to a drug possession charge in September.
Jennifer Coffey pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor drug charge. That case also remains open.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Second burglar heading to prison for November incident at Cranberry Lake home, other Clare County locations

by LaNia Coleman The Bay City Times
Sunday September 13, 2009, 3:43 PM
HARRISON -- The second of two defendants in a two-months burglary spree has learned his fate.
Clare County Circuit Judge Thomas R. Evans sentenced Dustin A. Mowinski to nine to 20 years for one count of assault with intent to rob while armed and four to 15 years for each of three counts of second-degree home invasion.
Evans also assessed the 19-year-old Harrison man $11,157 in fines, costs, restitution and fees.
Mowinski's co-defendant, Larry D. Lyvere, also of Harrison, currently is lodged at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia, where the 19-year-old is serving nine to 25 years for the assault charge and 57 months to 15 years for each of the home invasion charges.
Mowinski has yet to be assigned to a state facility.
Circuit Judge Roy G. Mienk sentenced Lyvere in August and ordered him to pay $9,537 in fees, fines, costs and restitution.
The judges had the option of sending the pair to prison for the rest of their lives for the assault charge.
The teens pleaded guilty to the charges, said Clare County Prosecutor Michelle J. Ambrozaitis.
"At the end of November, Lyvere and Mowinski culminated their two-month crime spree of home invasions by holding a Harrison woman at gun point in an effort to steal her car," Ambrozaitis said.
Sheriff's deputies arrested the teens after a woman who lives in the Cranberry Lake subdivision of Hayes Township reported they knocked on her door.
They then pointed pistols at her and ordered her to open the door, deputies have said. The pair fled when she refused, picked up a telephone and dialed 911.
State Department of Corrections records show Lyvere served less than four months of a one-year sentence for larceny in a building in Chippewa County.
Mowinski has no prior state record.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crime Stoppers of Michigan to Honor Local Leaders

DTE Energy's Anthony F. Earley Jr. to chair Oct. 13 event
DETROIT, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Matthew Cullen, president and chief financial officer of Rock Enterprises; Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools; and Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit Division, will be honored by Crime Stoppers of Michigan for helping to make the state a better place to live, work and play.
The trio will be honored at Crime Stoppers' annual Recognition Dinner at DTE Energy Headquarters in Detroit on Oct. 13. DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Anthony F. Earley Jr. is the event chairman.
"Especially in the current economy, Michigan residents recognize the critical importance of safety in promoting business growth and a healthy economic climate," Earley said. "We all need to be vigilant - to keep our eyes and ears open - and do what we can to keep communities safe - and that includes sending the message that we won't condone crime in our communities."
John W. Broad, Crime Stoppers president, noted that the organization's honorees this year have played important leadership roles in Southeast Michigan.
"These three men have been instrumental in making our area a good place to live and do business," Broad said. "They show what can happen when people get involved in communities in both professional and personal ways."
Before joining Rock Enterprises in 2008, Cullen, a Grosse Pointe Woods resident, spent 29 years at General Motors Corp. and was its general manager for economic development. Cullen is credited for driving GM's $500 million acquisition and development of the Renaissance Center as its global headquarters and has played an active role in private-public efforts to rebuild the Detroit riverfront. Now, Cullen has responsibility for Rock's effort to promote development in downtown Detroit.
Bobb was appointed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm earlier this year as emergency financial manager for the Detroit public school system. In this role, he has assumed full financial authority for the school district. Bobb brings to the job more than 30 years of executive management experience in both the public and private sectors. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the designation as "Most Valuable Public Official" by City &
State magazine.
Arena, of Northville, was appointed to his position in 2007, and in addition to the headquarters office in Detroit, he oversees 11 FBI satellite offices within the division's territory. Arena joined the FBI in 1988. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Arena was promoted to chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following year he was appointed special assistant to the executive assistant director for counterterrorism and counterintelligence.
Sponsorship opportunities for the dinner are still available. Proceeds from the event will be used to support Crime Stoppers, an alliance of business, law enforcement and community leaders with the mission to empower people to make their neighborhoods, schools and businesses safer through the anonymous reporting of crime. The guarantee of anonymity encourages the participation of tipsters who might otherwise be reluctant to get involved because of fears of
Money raised from previous recognition dinners has contributed to impressive gains in Crime Stoppers performance. Over the last 12 months, Crime Stoppers has recorded the following results:
Nearly 3,400 tips, or nearly 10 per day, everyday, and double the tips received in 2006
Nearly 400 cases cleared
More than 700 arrests made from Crime Stopper tips
Nearly $200,000 in recovered property
More than $800,000 in drugs recovered
65 weapons recovered
Nearly $75,000 in rewards approved
To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit or
call Athena DeWulf on (313) 922-5000, extension 12.
SOURCE Crime Stoppers of Michigan
John Broad, +1-313-922-5000 Ext. 10

Canton Neighborhood Hit By Burglaries

Police Warn Residents To Keep Doors, Garages Locked
POSTED: Tuesday, September 8, 2009
UPDATED: 10:54 am EDT September 9, 2009
CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- While most homeowners were relaxing and enjoying the long holiday weekend, police in Canton said some robbers were hard at work breaking into homes.
Police said a string of home break-ins occurred over the weekend along Lowell, Whitman and Stuart streets in Canton Township. In all of the cases, police said the robbers broke in through a back window or door.
“I guess that would tell me that someone is watching, and that they’re casing before they attempt to go in,” said one resident in the area.
The resident said a rash of break-ins happened a few years ago, and that neighbors got themselves watch dogs and outdoor lights in an effort to curb the crimes.
“We talk to the neighbors. We have a pretty good neighborhood watch program going on and they know that we’re looking out for them,” the resident said.
Police said closing, and locking, any doors or garages are recommended to avoid theft. Police said they don’t have any leads on the break-ins.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Canton Police Department.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Carbon monoxide linked to heart problems in elderly

New Haven, Conn.—Exposure to carbon monoxide, even at levels well below national limits, is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for the elderly with heart problems, according to a study published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The nationwide study of 126 urban communities, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that an increase in carbon monoxide of 1 part per million in the maximum daily one-hour exposure is associated with a 0.96 percent increase in the risk of hospitalization from cardiovascular disease among people over the age of 65.
This link holds true even when carbon monoxide levels are less than 1 part per million, which is well below the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35 parts per million. This finding suggests an under-recognized health risk to seniors. Currently, the EPA is evaluating the scientific evidence on the link between carbon monoxide and health to determine whether the health-based standard should be modified.
"This evidence indicates that exposure to current carbon monoxide levels may still pose a public health threat," said Michelle Bell, the study's lead investigator and associate professor of environmental health at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "Higher levels of carbon monoxide were associated with higher risk of hospitalizations for cardiovascular heart disease."
Bell and researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine based their findings on an analysis of hospital records for 9.3 million Medicare recipients and data on air pollution levels and weather gathered between 1999 and 2005. Their analysis took into account the health effects of other traffic-related pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, fine particles and elemental carbon.
"We found a positive and statistically significant association between same-day carbon monoxide levels and an increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular disease in general, as well as for multiple, specific cardiovascular disease outcomes, including ischemic heart disease, heart rhythm disturbances, heart failure and cerebrovascular disease," Bell said.
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas that is a component of automobile exhaust. The researchers acknowledged that additional research is needed to investigate whether carbon monoxide or a combination of it and other traffic-related pollutants are the cause of the increased risk of cardiovascular hospitalizations in seniors.

National Child Injury Prevention Week

September 1st – 7th is National Child Injury Prevention Week. Parents always keep the well-being of their children as a top priority, but this event offers a great opportunity to really focus on home safety tips for kids.
Children spend a large amount of time at home, and it can be easy to take for granted that they are safe around the house. It is, however, essential to be aware of potential danger zones and take every step possible to make your home ‘kid friendly’. Here are a few tips to help your loved ones avoid injury.
Child Proofing Your HomeKids are naturally curious, and as soon as they are old enough to crawl they will start to explore their environment. Once your kids are moving on their own, it’s important to be aware of the obstacles and dangers they may encounter. Many experts recommend that parents go for their own crawl around the house to get a better perspective of these potential hazards. There are several things to watch for, including:
• Small items that could be choking hazards• Uncovered electrical outlets• Sharp corners on tables and other furniture• Long cords that a child could get tangled up in• Areas that need a safety gate, like in front of stairs or rooms a child shouldn’t enter• Any dangerous item (knives, glass objects, etc.) within a child’s reach
For more tips on childproofing your home, visit
Kitchen SafetyKids enjoy spending time in the kitchen while a parent cooks, but it is a room that can hold many dangers if you don’t prepare. Keep a close eye on children while they are in the kitchen, and use these tips to help protect them:
• Turn the handles of pots and pans away from the counter so children can’t grab and pull them down• Keep all poisons out of reach and in child-proof containers• Don’t store sharp utensils where children can reach them• Put child proof latches on every cabinet• Store alcohol on shelves in tall cabinets, and keep them securely latched
Water SafetyFor families with small children, water safety is a major concern. Statistics show that drowning is one of the leading causes of death among kids in the United States. If you own a pool, put a child safety fence around it and keep it locked at all times. Don’t leave toys near the pool; they encourage children to look for a way to climb over the fence. If possible, invest in a pool cover. It will provide an extra level of security, and keep the water warmer.
Water safety isn’t just about pools – a drowning can occur in a very small amount of liquid. Every year children drown in bathtubs, toilets and other water-filled objects. Keep your bathroom door latched and never leave a child unattended around water for any amount of time.
Fire SafetyA house fire is one of the most tragic and potentially deadly events a family can endure, so it is essential to be prepared. Start by purchasing smoke alarms and remember to replace the batteries once a year so they are always fresh. Next you can pick up a few fire extinguishers and place them in as many rooms as possible. Finally, come up with several escape routes in case a fire breaks out. Rehearse a fire safety drill in which the entire family practices using these routes so they are ready to get away quickly during an emergency.
Child safety is a major issue for every parent. It’s a topic to focus on daily, and something we can examine in even greater detail this September 1st – 7th as we recognize National Child Injury Prevention Week. Find more safety tips for kids here, and thank you for reading the People Search blog.