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By Fred Yancy, Broker | Broker in Woodstock, GA
  • Security measures that burglars loathe

    Posted Under: General Area, Quality of Life, Crime & Safety  |  January 19, 2014 6:46 AM  |  890 views  |  1 comment

    Security measures that burglars loathe

    Think there's nothing you can do to lessen your risk for a home break-in? Check out nine ways to deter burglars.


    By Ginny Perez 

    Here are nine things you can do to make burglars think twice before trying to enter your home.

    If you think you're not at risk of being a victim of burglary, think again. If there's an opportunity to invade your home, no matter who you are or where you live, burglars will take the chance.

    "Burglaries are considered 'crimes of opportunity' because the criminal is looking for the easy way to get into your home - the unlocked door, open garage door or open window," says Charlene Miller, Crime Prevention Neighborhood Watch director at the Boise Police Department.

    Fortunately, "There are practical security measures you can take to make it so difficult for burglars that they'll go somewhere else," Miller adds.

    Want to learn what these measures are? Here are nine things you can do to make burglars think twice before trying to enter your home.

    #1 - Secured Doors and Windows

    In approximately one-third of home burglaries the burglar comes in through an unlocked door or window, according to the "Burglary of Single Family Houses"guide, published by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

    "The first line of defense in your home's security is having solid core exterior doors with high quality grade 1 or 2 deadbolt locks," Miller states. "French doors can be secured with a quality deadbolt lock and a slide bolt penetrating the upper or lower doorframe."

    Miller notes that sliding glass doors are especially vulnerable if they do not have proper locks, so check with the manufacturer for the right ones.

    "A snug-fitting dowel (a piece of cylindrical wood - similar to a broom handle) in the lower track of the door will also prevent it from being opened." Miller also recommends installing eyebolts in the frames of sliding windows to allow for ventilation without leaving enough room for an intruder.

    #2 - A Loud Dog

    Dogs are not only "man's best friend." They can also be a burglar's worst enemy.

    In fact, COPS reports that most burglars avoid houses with dogs. "Burglars don't want to be seen or caught; they also want to avoid pain," agrees Miller, who adds that dogs that bark - even small, noisy dogs - can be an effective deterrent.

    And while you might feel safer with a large dog that could do bodily harm, like a German Shepherd, Miller says the most important aspect is having a dog that sounds an alarm with its bark.

    #3 - A Home Security System

    If you want something that not only makes noise when there's an intruder, but also calls for help, consider installing a home security system. Home security systems detect when someone enters your house uninvited, sets off an alarm, and also notifies authorities of an invasion.

    "If you have valuables that need protection, rampant burglaries in your area, and are away from home for long stretches, a home security system could be a good option for you," says Miller.

    She recommends doing some online research and checking with local alarm system companies to find the best system for your needs.

    #4 - Motion Sensor Lights

    Installing sensor lights (which turn on when they detect motion) is a great way to illuminate portions of your property only when needed - like when someone enters the area.

    Sensor lights will come on as soon as someone enters under cover of darkness - as a burglar would.

    "Outside lighting is one of the cheapest and most effective deterrents to crime," states Miller, who adds that "motion sensor lights give you the ease of having lights come on automatically."

    #5 - Surveillance Cameras

    A video surveillance system can be a bit costly, but it could help you sleep better at night.

    "Installing a video security system can give you peace of mind and act as a deterrent to burglars, especially when you're on vacation," Millers states.

    However, if you don't want to go the full route of installing a system, think about putting up a "dummy" camera or two to give the illusion of protection. And while Miller agrees installing a "dummy" camera could intimidate a burglar, she says the downside is it can't provide evidence if a burglary occurs.

    #6 - Protection Warning Signs

    Got a dog or a home security system? Share that information with signage on your fence, door, or window. Much like putting up security cameras, letting a burglar know you are well protected makes you less of a target.

    "It's important to look at your home from a burglar's point of view," shares Miller. "Burglars who think they might be seen or caught will think twice before targeting your house."

    Miller cautions that while having this kind of signage can be to your advantage, it could also make burglars wonder what you have that's worth protecting.

    #7 - A Trimmed and Tidy Yard

    Untrimmed trees and shrubs provide good hiding places for burglars and can obscure their entry into your home.

    To get a better sense of what she means, Miller suggests the following: "Stand out on your front sidewalk and take an objective look at your house. Do you have trees or shrubs providing hiding places for someone?" If so, Miller recommends trimming tree branches up to six feet from the ground and shrubs down to below window sills.

    A shaggy lawn - especially one that's usually trimmed - can also indicate to a burglar that you're likely on vacation, or simply away on business for a prolonged period of time. Consider hiring someone to mow your lawn if you're going to be out of town for more than a week.

    #8 - The Appearance That Someone Is Home

    Burglars know your routine, and when there's a break in that routine - like when you're on vacation - it's a signal that your home is clear for a break-in.

    With that in mind, Miller says that "the goal when you're gone is for your home to appear lived in."

    To accomplish this, Miller suggests using motion-sensor lights and timers on your radio and TV to simulate occupancy and create the illusion that you're home.

    Corvallis, Oregon home insurance professional, Bonnie Lundy, agrees: "Anything you can do to make your home look occupied while you're away is a good thing - and timed electronics are great for that."

    She does caution, however, that burglars are aware people use timers, and recommends some variation in the pattern.

    #9 - Helpful Neighbors

    We just talked about making your home look lived in while you're away. And while simulating occupancy can get tricky, the good news is you can enlist help. The best recruits? Your neighbors.

    Whenever you're away, Lundy highly recommends asking your neighbors to get your mail and newspapers, and check for any deliveries. Miller also recommends asking them to put garbage bags in your garbage can.

    And that's not all. You should also "ask a trusted neighbor to park their vehicle in your driveway occasionally while you're out of town," suggests Miller.

    Any sign of activity at your home is enough to deter most burglars - who count on an empty house.

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Harry Norman, Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    www.Fred.Yancy.HarryNorman.com

  • Busted! Hidden Camera Records 4 Out of 10 Plumbers Pillaging

    Posted Under: General Area, Quality of Life, Crime & Safety  |  March 12, 2013 9:39 AM  |  1,234 views  |  1 comment
    Busted! Hidden Camera Records 4 Out of 10 Plumbers Pillaging

    by Broderick Perkins

    Remember that TV news media sting that caught air conditioner repair service people attempting to rip off a "homeowner?"

    In the middle of a heat wave NBC's Today Show investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen set up a timely undercover investigation of air conditioning repair contractors and couldn't find a single honest repairman.

    When Rossen recently went after plumbers, at least only nearly half of them wound up in hot water.

    It's the kind story that can't be told enough.

    Don't randomly call service workers to your home.

    Ask family, friends, your real estate agent, co-workers and others your trust for referrals to service people.

    Then check their license, their Better Business Bureau record and other records of their work and business to fully vet them before you allow them to cross your home's threshold.

    Flushing out plumbers

    For the plumber sting episode, Rossen's crew rented a house in suburban New Jersey with an easily accessible hot water heater in the basement.

    To verify the heater was in good shape, Rossen hired three licensed, master plumbers to give the water heater the once over. They all found it in perfect working condition, with a remaining useful life of 10 to 15 years.

    One plumber was Pete Boros, a plumber with 30 years of experience and the chairman of New Jersey's licensing board for plumbers.

    Boros made a small adjustment to the water heater's drainage valve by loosening a screw to start a small leak, creating a puddle on the floor.

    A simple fix would be to take little more than a second to tighten the screw back to it's original position.

    It's something an honest plumber would spot in a minute.

    And that's just what happened, at first.

    Cameras were secretly positioned and a "mom" of four daughters, randomly called 10 plumbers.

    The first plumber finds and fixes the problem in an instant without charging the mom. Several additional plumbers follow suit.

    Problem plumbers

    Then the plumber problems began.

    • "Frank" arrives, checks the tank, finds and fixes the leak. Then, however, he tells mom the water has to be drained and a new valve installed to prevent further leaks.

    He offers to do the work for $359, but then hustles off, while sticking to his story, after Rossen appears to tell him the jig is up.

    • Another plumber, just seconds in the basement, proclaims the water heater needs to be replaced.

    "There's no fixing it. You need a new unit, just from looking at it," he lies, hoping to collect $1,675 for the work.

    When questioned about the leak Boros had created, the plumber claimed he didn't see the leak, but that he had felt moist corrosion on the bottom of the heater.

    Later he couldn't explain why Rossen couldn't feel the same moisture and hurries off.

    Rossen called the plumber's company with more questions, but the company never called back.

    • The largest estimate came from "Joe" who spent lots of time down on his hands and knees, even prone at one point, putting on a pretty good water heater inspecting performance.

    "I'm just trying to see because I don't want you to have to spend no money you don't have to spend," he tells the mom.

    Finally, "I think it's coming from here," says "Joe," fingering the valve Boros adjusted to leak.

    Later his story changes when he tells the mom she needs a new water heater.

    "Yeah, it's (the leak) gotta be coming from the tank," Joe fibs.

    When the mom asks for an estimate, he replies, "$1,975. I'll do it for 1900 bucks."

    What a deal.

    Fred Yancy, Broker

    Crye-Leike Realtors

    (678) 799-4663

    http://fredyancy.crye-leike.com

  • Halloween Safety Tips

    Posted Under: General Area, Crime & Safety, In My Neighborhood  |  October 4, 2011 7:26 AM  |  1,224 views  |  No comments
    Halloween Safety Tips

    Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety for any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.

    ALL DRESSED UP:

    • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
    • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
    • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
    • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
    • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
    • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
    • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

    CARVING A NICHE:

    • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
    • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
    • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

    HOME SAFE HOME:

    • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
    • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
    • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
    • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

    ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
    • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
    • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
    • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
    • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

    HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

    • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
    • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
    • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
    • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

    Provided by: American Academy of Pediatrics

    Fred Yancy, Broker
    Crye-Leike Realtors
    (678) 799-4663
    website
  • Mortgage-Fraud Reports Up 88%

    Posted Under: Crime & Safety, Market Conditions, Financing  |  September 30, 2011 8:37 AM  |  1,257 views  |  No comments

    Mortgage-Fraud Reports Up 88%

    By Alan Zibel
    Real estate news and analysis from The Wall Street Journal

    Reports of mortgage fraud in the U.S. surged by nearly 88% in the second quarter of this year as banks discovered more problem loans made during the housing boom, according to a government report released Wednesday.

    The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a Treasury Department agency, reported 29,558 “suspicious activity reports” related to suspected mortgage fraud in the April-June period. That was up from 15,727 in the same quarter a year earlier.

    The increase was attributed to mortgage servicers performing reviews of loan files after receiving demands from mortgage investors to repurchase defaulted mortgages. Government-controlled mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other mortgage investors have been trying to recoup losses by forcing banks to buy back loans that don’t meet underwriting guidelines.

    The report noted that 81% of mortgage-fraud reports involved activities that occurred more than two years ago, and 63% involved suspicious activities from at least four years ago. California, Florida, Nevada and Illinois had the highest fraud rates.

    “Financial institutions are uncovering fraud as they sift through defaulted mortgages,” said James H. Freis Jr., the agency’s director, in a statement. “But we also continue to see indications of ongoing mortgage fraud activities.” False statements about income, home occupancy, or debts and assets was the most common type of suspicious activity, the agency said.

    Last year, there were 70,472 “suspicious activity reports” related to suspected mortgage fraud, up from 67,507 in 2009 and the highest number recorded since tracking began in 1996.

    Fred Yancy, Broker
    Crye-Leike Realtors
    (678) 799-4663

  • America's 50 Best Cities

    Posted Under: Quality of Life, Crime & Safety, In My Neighborhood  |  September 28, 2011 1:50 PM  |  1,273 views  |  No comments

    Atlanta

    Provided by: Bloomberg Businessweek

    America’s Best Places Rank:
    32nd
    Population: 515,843
    Mayor: Kasim Reed

    Why it’s ranked: Atlanta’s well-educated population is deservedly proud that the Peachtree City is home to Home Depot, Coca-Cola, and UPS, some of the South’s best restaurants, many museums, and plentiful libraries, top colleges, and pro sports teams. City boosters may be less boastful, however, about the city’s high rates of violent and property crime, among the worst on this list.

    How it ranked:
    Percent with bachelor's degrees: 45.7
    Percent under poverty level: 21.4
    Median household income: $50,243
    Violent crime rate: 1,150.1
    Property crime rate: 6,212.5
    School score: 67.64
    Pro sports teams: 4
    Foreclosure rate: .0135
    Percent Unemployment: 10.9
    Park acres per 1,000 residents: 7.2
    Bars: 187
    Restaurants: 1,384
    Museums: 132
    Colleges: 18
    Libraries: 40
    Air Quality Index: 84

    Fred Yancy, Broker
    Crye-Leike Realtors
    (678) 799-4663
    Fred Yancy Website
 
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