Toledo Police Department Burglary Prevention Tips

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Dear Toledo Resident:

The Toledo Police Department and the Northwest Ohio Realtors are working together to reduce the number of burglaries to vacant homes in your neighborhood. In the past twelve months, there have been numerous break-ins to vacaed homes in the surrounding area. The majority of these recent burglaries have occurred to homes with “For Sale” signs in the front yard or those homes easily identifiable as being vacant. In an effort to reduce this type of criminal activity, the Toledo Police Department and the Northwest Ohio Realtors are requesting your assistance. We ask that you consider the following:

  • Be extra vigilant in keeping your eyes and ears open to what is occurring in your neighborhood and report suspicous persons and/or activity to the police immediately. Be mindful of the following:
    • The suspect(s) may case out their potential targets during the day and return when it is dark.
    • The suspect(s) may be dropped off in the area by an accomplice in a vehicle and approach the property on foot. Once the suspect(s) gains entry, removes and gathers property such as copper pipes from the house they may contact their accomplice and request to be picked up.
    • The suspect(s) often gain entry through a back or side door of the vacant home.
    • Once inside the property, the suspect(s) may utilize flash lights or head lamps so as not to turn on lights inside and you may observe beams of light coming from the property.
    • Make note of suspicious person(s) descriptions and vehicle license plates if you can do so safely, and share the information with police immediately by calling 9-1-1.
  • If you live next door or behind a vacant property and you have time, quickly survey the property in the morning to make sure it is secure. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice signs of forced entry.

Neighborhood security requires community participation and your efforts are very much appreciated by the Toledo Police Department and Northwest Ohio REALTORS. In an effort to provide you with the tools you need, attached are additional crime prevention tips, a notepad and pen.

Lieutenant Cheryl Hunt

Burglary Prevention Tips for Vacant Properties

  • Make the home look occupied.
    • Put lights, a TV, and/or radios on timers and set them to go on and off at different times to make the house appear occupied.
    • Keep drapes closed if house is empty.
    • Put a seasonal decoration on the door or on the porch.
    • Keep property maintained.
      • Grass mowed
      • Leaves raked
      • Snow shoveled
    • Ask neighbors to park their vehicle in the driveway.
    • Ask a neighbor to pick up fliers or circulars that may be left on the front porch, driveway, or in the newspaper box.
  • Paint outside copper black so it appears to be plastic.
  • Utilize a Sharpie to mark your exposed copper. Mark it with the property address or a vehicle license plate number registered to the property owner.
  • Utilize PEX tubing on new construction or when replacing copper.
  • Post “No Copper” signs on the front and rear doors.
  • Utilize inexpensive portable alarms and/or security devices.
    • Door stop wedge alarm – sounds up to 130 dB
    • Doorknob alarm
    • Fake security cameras
  • Utilize contractors that have long term employees as opposed to cheaper priced companies that have higher turnover of short term employees.
  • Put a lock on the fuse or circuit box for AC systems. Electricity has to be turned off before taking apart an AC system.
  • Consider renting your home or hiring a house sitter to prevent the home from being vacant during the selling period.
  • Refrain from putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of property.

Burglary Prevention Tips

  • Make your home look occupied.
    • Use automatic timers on lamps.
    • Leave a TV or radio on.
  • Lock all doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.
    • Install deadbolts if you don’t have them.
    • Install solid doors.
    • Secure windows and sliding doors
      • Use wooden stakes inside door/window frame to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
    • Make sure door hinges are on the inside.
    • Close bedroom drapes and/or blinds.
  • Make sure you have adequate exterior lighting.
    • Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage/shed.
  • Trim trees and shrub so they can’t be used to conceal burglars.
  • Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes, or other secret hiding places.
  • Don’t tempt a thief.
    • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
    • Lawn mowers, snow blowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.
    • Cover garage and basement windows with curtains.
    • Don’t put empty boxes out for trash pick up from new items recently purchased. (TV’s, Computers, etc.)
  • Consider installing an alarm system.
  • Mark your valuables with an engraver or a permanent marker.
  • Make a property identification list and keep in safe place or another location.
    • Note model and serial numbers on list.
    • Make photocopies of credit cards.
    • Obtain licenses for bikes.
  • Work with your neighbors and look out for one another.
    • Communicate often; get to know your neighbors schedule and share your schedule with them.
    • Attend regular block watch meetings.
  • Report suspicious persons to police immediately.
    • If someone or something looks questionable report it.
    • Look for unfamiliar subjects on bikes or foot. Often times burglars in these cases will be carrying backpacks.
    • Look for slow moving cars.
      • If you can do so safely:
        • Get a description of the vehicle, the driver, and occupant(s).
        • Try to obtain a license plate number.
  • If someone knocks on your door and you don’t feel comfortable opening it, make sure they know you are home. Yell through the door that you are calling the police. If you don’t let them know you are home, they may try to break in.
  • To avoid solicitors coming to your residence, get a sign that states, “No Soliciting.”
  • If you are comfortable opening your door, always ask for credentials of solicitor(s) selling a product or service.
  • Don’t make posts on social networking sites which inform others when you will not be home.
  • When away from home for an extended period:
    • Make your home look as it usually does when you are there. Ask a neighbor to open and close drapes and blinds as you do.
    • Do not let deliveries accumulate (i.e. mail, newspapers, circulars, etc.)
    • Lower the volume of your telephone ringer so a prowler will be less likely to hear an answered call.
    • Avoid leaving a message on your answering machine that indicates you are not home.
    • Inform the police and trusted neighbors that you will be gone for an extended time.

Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention

Inside Vehicle

  • Keep the inside of your car tidy. Consider that shopping bags or boxes containing worthless objects may appear to hold valuables to a would-be thief.
  • Whenever possible, don’t leave valuables in your car. Take these types of items with you when you exit the car.
  • Hide electronics and accessories such as Apple iPod adapters and GPS devices. Use cleaning wipes to erase evidence of suction cup mounts and put the cigarette lighter back in place.
  • If it is necessary to keep valuables in your car, keep them in the trunk. If you have a SUV and the trunk area is viewable from the outside, consider purchasing a retractable cover. If you have a pick-up truck, utilize locked compartments inside the truck or install a storage box in the bed of the truck.
  • Stach your valuables in your vehicle before you reach your final destination and park your car.

Locking Vehicle

  • Always keep your parked car locked. Make sure your windows are completely closed as well as your sunroof if you have one.
  • Keep your car locked when you are driving. This will reduce your chances of being car jacked or having valuables stolen when you are stopped in traffic.
  • If your fuel tank can be accessed manually from the outside, considered getting a locking gas cap to prevent the siphoning of fuel. If your tank can’t be accessed from the outside, a locking gas cap can also serve to limit the driving time of a car theif.

Parking Vehicle

  • If you have a garage and available space, park your vehicle in your garage.
  • Park in a well lit area whenever possible. Put motion detectors on your house or garage to light up the driveway.
  • Avoid parking next to large vehicles, bushes, tress, fences or other objects that can obstruct the visibility of your vehicle. These types of objects can serve to conceal a criminal in action.
  • When home, don’t leave a garage door in your car if your car is parking in the driveway or on the street.
  • When given a choice, park in an attended lot. Thieves are less likely to commit crime when a parking lot attendant could witness the incident.


  • Never leave keys in an unoccupied vehicle.
    • Even if the car is parked in a locked garage.
    • Don’t leave the keys in the car when you are pumping your gas or running inside to pay for it.
  • Never keep a spare car key inside of your car.
  • Consider how easily a burglar could find your car keys if they broke into your home. After all, many households have more than one car and it is not unusual for a car or cars to be on the property or within close proximity of the home when no one is home. If a burglar should gain access to your home and they spot the keys, they may load up your car with property and drive off.
  • Be mindful that burglaries can occur when residents are home. If items such as keys, wallets, and purses are observable from an outside window, a burglar may be tempted to enter your home to steal the items. It is highly recommended that residents take these types of items upstairs or to their bedroom when they retire for the night. The panic button on a set of keys can come in handy if someone breaks in your home or is in your yard.