My neighbors recently returned home one evening to find that their home had been burglarized. This had never happened in our neighborhood before. Although it was still daylight no one had seen anyone around their home during the previous two hours while they had been out shopping. The thieves made off with a handgun, a laptop computer, jewelry, and even a television set. They had used a crowbar to get into the house. It turns out that this is happening more frequently than ever before across the United States. The police arrived soon after and told all of us in the neighborhood that we needed to make some changes. Here are the tips that they gave us:

1. Get to know your neighbors. Exchange names, phone numbers, and other information that makes your neighborhood become closer as friends and neighbors. Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch group on your street.

2. Leave a light on or use a timer for your lights if you will be away for a full day or longer.

3. Have the post office hold your mail and put your newspapers on vacation hold while you are away. As an alternative, ask one of your neighbors to bring in your mail and newspapers and keep them for you until you return.

4. Consider installing a security system. These systems are more common now and fairly inexpensive to put in. The companies usually require you to sign a two year agreement.

5. Walk on your street regularly. Get to know which cars belong with a particular house. Meet neighbors that you have never talked to before.

6. Write down the license plate numbers and descriptions of strange vehicles and their occupants. Make a note of the day and time the vehicle was parked on your street.

7. Do not discuss private details with anyone who comes to your door trying to sell something or wanting information. Tell them to leave their card or other contact information on your front steps or porch and do not open the door until long after they have gone.

8. Do not leave mail in your mail box to be picked up later. Take it to the post office or hand it personally to the carrier.

9. Watch out for your neighbors. If you see someone or something that doesn't seem right take a closer look.

If all of us take the time to get to know each other better and help each other we can help the police to protect our neighborhoods. We can all feel more safe and secure if we follow these tips and become good neighbors.

Connie Ragen Green is a Real Estate Broker and State Certified Residential Appraiser in California and has bought and sold over 100 properties since 1983. Visit her at for more information about buying and selling real estate.
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