President’s Report- 11.11
By Michael Norvell -
At our recent quarterly meeting, a Houston Police Department officer spoke about easy and effective steps we can all take to make our homes safer in light of the typical Inner Loop criminal activity. In addition to the basics like keeping your cars locked, your fence gates secure, and your garage door shut when not in use, other high points included:
“Buddy up”: Everyone should have the phone number of at least two other neighbors who live within eyesight of them. Team up with other neighbors with whom you can communicate about suspicious activity, or when you need an extra pair of eyes on your home.
Strengthen your exterior doors: First, you can install a wrap-around reinforcement plate at the deadbolt and knob. Second, consider adding a throw bolt or security chain. Finally, you can easily replace the ¾” screws that are probably securing your door’s strike plate to the door jamb with longer 3” screws. Each of these measures makes it harder to force in an exterior door.
Get an alarm system, and advertise it: If you already have an alarm system (and regularly use it), your monitoring company likely provides subtle yard signs that advertise that your home is being monitored.
Strategic lighting and landscaping: Be careful that shrubs are not near an entry point to your home—they can make good hiding places. Lighting up exterior entry points is effective, within reason. Lighting should be aimed at the entry point without unnecessarily lighting up other spaces in a way that bothers neighbors or ruins the night sky.
Save this number – If you see legitimately suspicious activity, call the Houston Non-Emergency Dispatch Line at 713.884.3131. HPD can’t help us if we don’t keep them informed of what we see on a daily basis. If it’s suspicious, call them! Obviously, if you or someone else is in actual danger, call 9-1-1.
Camera devices are also more and more common. Over the coming months, TMNA is considering whether to ask homeowners if they’d like to provide their name to a confidential list of homeowners who have security cameras that regularly capture driveway, sidewalk or street footage. Those folks who would be willing to share footage of alleged activity could potentially assist HPD investigations. This is obviously sensitive information, and would only involve homeowners who are willing to participate. This will be a subject to discuss at our next quarterly meeting, which will be on Thursday, January 29, 2015.