How to protect vacant houses

How to protect vacant houses

22 November 2010

published by

USA —  In light of the seven arson fires that have damaged eight homes in recent weeks, Albany police and fire departments and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office are offering some tips to help deter arsonists.

“They are obviously looking for places that look unoccupied,” Sheriff Tim Mueller said.

A well-kept yard lets potential crooks know someone is watching the house and taking care of it, at least occasionally, said Capt. Eric Carter of the Albany Police Department.

“If the grass is 6 feet tall, it’s completely apparent no one lives there,” he said. If personally keeping up on yardwork isn’t possible, consider hiring a service, he suggested.

Lt. Casey Dorland of APD said an easy and effective step is adding motion detection lights. Also, light entrances to the home and property.

“People don’t like to commit crimes in places that are well lit,” Carter added.

Relatively inexpensive surveillance equipment is available at retailers such as Costco, Dorland said. If the property is fitted with an alarm system, make sure the information associated with it is correct and up to date.

Your best defense, he said, is an ongoing, positive relationship with neighbors. A neighbor who knows who is and isn’t supposed to be there and cares enough to be vigilant could save your home with a call to police when they suspect something is wrong.

A formal Neighborhood Watch is even better.

Homeowners may also request extra patrol from the police and sheriff’s offices.

Finally Dorland said, let City Hall know you have a long-term vacant property by calling Mary Gaeta at 541-704-2321.

Gaeta is the code compliance inspector and one of her responsibilities is to keep track of buildings in the city that may be dangerous.

“We keep this list to keep an eye on it, let the owners know if it needs to be secured,” said city spokeswoman Marilyn Smith. “The idea is to make the neighborhood safer.”

Butch Skoien of Linn’s planning and building department said the county does not keep a list of vacant properties. Some buildings come to the his attention if they are “problem properties” that neighbors are complaining about or deputies are watching for drug activity.

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