Chiefs offer safety tips

After Goshen tragedy, a reckoning with danger in the neighborhood

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By Geri Corey

— Even though it’s summer, there’s a chill in the air. The horrific tragedy last weekend in the Village of Goshen, in which two teenagers were arrested in connection to murder and arson, has people in the area doing things a little differently, like locking their doors each night before going to bed.

But there’s more people can do to ensure their safety, as The Chronicle found out when asking police chiefs in Goshen in Chester for safety tips.

For starters, lock those windows too, said Town of Goshen Police Chief James McDowell.

Chief McDowell offered some other suggestions:

Use motion lights — Install lights on the outside of the house that go on when someone approaches the house or yard. “They’re a great deterrent,” he said.

Surveillance cameras — These cameras are not just for businesses; they are now being used in homes too. Modern technology allows you to monitor your home from your cell phone or computer at work. “Technology has come a long way and the price is reasonable to set the equipment up,” said McDowell. The police department uses surveillance cameras.

Keep in touch with your neighbors — Alert them if you see any unusual activity, even a strange face or car in the area. Most likely they’ll do the same for you. McDowell said this was “extremely important.”

Jot things down — If you see a strange vehicle, try to get the plate number, which will help police in the event of an investigation. If it’s a pedestrian or bicyclist, jot down a description of their clothing.

Get a dog — McDowell acknowledges that owning a dog is a big responsibility, but says it can be worth it for the added security. Most thieves don’t want to deal with animals in the home because they tend to make too much noise.

Get a deadbolt — McDowell noted that door locks are good, but deadbolts are better. “Make it harder for intruders to enter your home," he said. "Frustrate them and maybe they’ll move on."

Village of Chester Police Chief Peter J. Graziano Jr. agreed with McDowell's suggestions and added a few more:

Install a burglar alarm system — Most systems have a “panic alarm” feature that alerts a monitoring station, which alerts local police of an intrusion.

Install adequate lighting, indoors and out — Besides motion lights outdoors, invest in timers for indoors. Have lights go on and off at timed intervals when you’re not at home.

Trim shrubbery — Keep shrubbery small in the front of the house so a wrongdoer isn’t able to hide and surprise you as you enter the front door. Trimmed shrubbery, along with outdoor lighting, make a great deterrent twosome, Graziano noted. “The more security, the less apt a thief will burglarize your home," he said. Possibly, he’ll move to a neighbor’s home. And if the entire neighborhood is security-conscious, he’ll probably leave the area.

Lock your car — Lock your car at night and try not to leave valuable possessions — handbags, IPods, GPS devices and other electronics — in them. Rummaging through a car is a quiet crime.

Think like a crook — Ask yourself, “How would a burglar get into my house?” Then take steps to remedy it.

“Simple things make it better and less attractive for a thief to target your house," Graziano said. "Allow commonsense to prevail or contact your local police department to help better secure your home. You want a break-in to make noise. The more noise the better chance of being detected.”

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