Citrus county is one of the few areas here in Florida where natural wetlands and beautiful woodlands remain untouched. With hundreds of acres of lakes, rivers, streams and the Gulf of Mexico to surround the many state and county forests here, Citrus county is one of Florida’s true secret gems. It is no wonder so many people retire to this beautiful tropical sanctuary from their frozen homesteads up north. Citrus county has a large population of homeowners who live in the area during the winter months and return to their northern homes in the summer. This migration of “snowbirds” presents a special security challenge not only for the homeowners who leave their homes empty for part of the year, but also for the law enforcement officials and fire departments who protect them.
Unoccupied homes are an attractive target to not only burglars, vandals and thieves, but also to the homeless, who see the empty house as part time shelter. So with so many different threats, what is a homeowner to do? We suggest that homeowners utilize a number of resources and tactics to protect their property while they are away.
The first resource we suggest would be to contact the Citrus county sheriff’s office and request a free security inspection while the homeowner is still here in Florida. The Citrus county Sheriffs office serves Inverness, Hernando, Crystal River, Homosassa, Beverly Hills, Lecanto, Floral City, Holder, Dunnellon, Citrus Springs and Citrus Hills here in Citrus county. There are a number of locksmiths in the area that provide this service as well, but most charge for this service. The sheriffs office will send a deputy, armed with the statistics of how most breakins occur in the area, to your property, at no cost to the homeowner and will inspect your house, the windows, doors, garage and outside structures and grounds to identify any areas that may require attention. They also offer a program called vacation watch. You can print and send in a form to be added to their vacation watch program. Bringing in the sheriffs department for an inspection also gives you the opportunity to let the sheriffs department know that you are not in the home for part of the year and gives you the chance to give them your contact information in the event something happens on your property while your away. If you have given a key to a neighbor, you will want to let the sheriffs office know who has the key. Giving the Sheriffs office your contact information will enable law enforcement to notify you right away in the event something happens, as well as provide you with an extra set of eyes watching your home while your away.
Once you have given the sheriffs department the heads up that you are not at your home for part of the year, it is a good idea to let a trusted neighbor(s) know when you will be gone. A neighbor is likely to be the first one to spot an intruder in your home and notify police. If you have a neighbor who is trustworthy, you may want to give them a key to the house while your gone so that if something does happen and law enforcement or the fire department needs to enter the residence while your away, they can do so without damaging a door or window to get in. Notify your neighbor of anyone who is allowed on the property while your gone. For example if you allow grown children to be there when your away or if you hire a pool company or lawn service to maintain the property, let your neighbors know who is allowed to be there. If they spot someone they were not told about, they know to notify the police. Most homeowners who leave their homes empty for part of the year close all blinds and curtains while they are away. While this does work to keep valuables out of site, it also blocks neighbors and law enforcement from being able to easily see if someone is inside the home. You may consider leaving a curtain open in a window facing the road, or the neighbors home, so neighbors can spot someone in the home. If someone is in the home at night, it may difficult for a neighbor to detect a lamp or flashlight being used inside the home with all the curtains closed. On the other hand if you leave a curtain open, a neighbor watching your property can easily detect light coming from your home and call authorities.If you choose to leave a curtain open, it is a good idea to keep expensive electronics and other valuables out of the range of view of the window.
If you have a central heat and air unit, pool pump and filter or other appliances outside your home, we suggest having these items secured as well. You can either take these units inside a garage or storage shed while your away or have a security cage installed to protect those items. Storing your appliances of course involves considerable time and effort to dismantle when your getting ready to leave and requires reassembly when you return. We offer another option here at 1 Able Locksmith. We sell and install air conditioner security cages that bolt to the concrete pad under your A/C unit and provide a way to “lock up” your unit. These cages not only work for A/C units but can be adjusted to fit pool filter systems and other appliances you may have in your yard as well. The price to purchase and install these security cages is much cheaper than the insurance deductible.
Lastly,one of the most important resources you have at your disposal are your door and window locks themselves. Not all locks are created equal. For example, many of the locks widely available at local hardware stores can be opened by a method known as bumping. This method of opening a lock has long been held as a locksmiths secret weapon. Today, thanks to the internet, the secret is out and the internet is full of videos that teach thieves this quick and easy method to gain entry into your home. Once this old locksmith trade secret became known to the public, some lock manufacturers stepped up and created their locks to be bump resistant. Schlage locks are a good example of a lock that is highly resistant to bumping. There are several other lock manufacturers that offer this type of protection. A good local locksmith can add bump proofing pins to your existing locks to render them bump resistant as well.
Burglary and vandalism will likely never be prevented entirely, but with proactive forethought, a little preventative action and the use of the resources available to you, you have a fighting chance to keep the things you have worked so hard to get secure while your away.
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Stay safe Citrus County!