CINCINNATI -- It's summer! Time to plan a getaway, pack your bags, lock up the house and head to beautiful, sunny -- wait.
Before you head out, rewind and look at that list again. According to Cincinnati Police Sergeant Eric Franz, it's missing something -- maybe several somethings -- that could protect you from returning to a ransacked home.
Although it's certainly better to lock up your house than not, Franz said most homes are quite vulnerable to burglary even when their owners believe every entrance is sealed. Doors aren't as sturdy as many of us believe, and a lock isn't always a real challenge to a well-placed boot.
"A professional burglar just kicks the door in," Franz said.
According to Franz, the majorities of burglaries in the Greater Cincinnati area involve broken-down doors or shattered windows. A criminal doesn't have to pick a lock, after all, if they can brute-force the thing it's keeping closed.
Franz's recommendation for families afraid of having a burglary is to install electronic security systems, and he said most companies that sell home alarm systems will send a representative out to show users how they work.
He also recommended the installation of dusk-to-dawn outdoor lights that illuminate when they sense motion. If someone were to try burgling a house with these lights installed, the sudden brightness could cause them to lose their nerve -- or at least alert residents and neighbors of their presence.
If you're personally concerned about the security of your home, Franz and his colleagues at the Cincinnati Police Department offer free security surveys to help Cincinnatians learn where they stand in terms of home safety.
"I'm gone most days and my mom is gone most days," said Jeanette Jinkinson, who recently moved home from college, after calling an officer for a free survey. "Now that we know other things that can make our house even safer, we're going to probably get to implementing those."
If you're interested in getting a professional opinion about how safe your home is, you can call the Cincinnati Police Department at 513-352-1472. (Don't call 911. They'll be cranky.)
And one more thing: Once you've got your home secured, your swimsuit packed and your GPS directions punched in, remember to bring sunscreen on your summer vacay, too.
You'll thank us later.