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Deputy does doors and windows, too

March 18, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - A Halfway woman watched intently Thursday as a man walked around her house, peeked into windows and jiggled the locks on the doors.

The woman could not have been more appreciative.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department has launched its Home Security Survey program, through which a deputy visits homes and businesses in Washington County, at the request of the owners, to identify potential safety deficiencies and recommend improvements, Deputy James Holsinger said.

The program is offered at no charge.

Holsinger said the checks, which he hopes to be busy doing as the vacation season approaches, focus on finding easy, inexpensive ways to increase safety. He said people often put off making safety improvements at their homes because they are worried about the expense.

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"That's the whole idea," Holsinger said. "We're trying to give some bare-bones ideas that homeowners might not have been aware of or didn't know what to do about it."

The following were among the observations and suggestions Holsinger made during his survey at the home in Halfway Thursday:

· Trim shrubbery that is near a home, especially at doors, because bushes can be used by would-be burglars as a place to hide.

· Replace old basement windows because if they're flimsy and worn out they're easy to break through.

· Position a homemade wooden stick from the far side of a horizontal-sliding window to the frame's center so the window can't be pushed opened.

· Install bells on the doors of easy-to-access porch areas, especially those with screens, so occupants can hear when someone enters that area.

· Install deadbolt locks, which require keys, on doors. With a deadbolt, a burglar can't break a window and then reach in and unlock the door.

· Don't use chain locks on doors, because they are "worthless."

· Use motion-detector lighting or "dusk-till-dawn" automatic lights in often neglected backyard areas. Leaving switch-controlled lighting on during the afternoon is often a sign that residents are on vacation or a business trip.

Holsinger said little things can go a long way.

"Just because there's going to be a victim tonight doesn't mean you have to be the victim," Holsinger said. "There's still not a guarantee, but by following our recommendations, they'll be a harder target."

For those wishing to make appointments, Holsinger can be reached at 240-313-2194.

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