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.