Shattered Window Marks Beginning of Spring Crime

By: Phil Levin Email
By: Phil Levin Email

POSTED Thursday, April 25, 2013 --- 10:30 p.m.
Reporter: Phil Levin

Madison Police say crime rates rise with the temperatures, as residents recover from a string of burglaries already this month.

Ed Fuss and his girlfriend Jennifer Smith were at their west side home last week when their doorbell rang. Because it was late at night they decided not to answer, and moments later a brick shattered their patio window.

"It truly is a violation when you have someone enter your house like this," said Fuss.

The criminal fled when the couple sprung into action, but they were up for hours vacuuming shards of glass and looking for someone to board up the window in the middle of the night, also ordering an alarm system and motion-detecting lights.

Smith says the next day she received her home assessment, revealing a 5 percent drop in value in just one year, which she attributes to an increase in crime in her neighborhood.

Now the couple is taking shooting lessons and contemplating leaving the area, Smith wrote in a letter to City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

Amidst 1,595 burglaries in 2012, Madison Police say crime rates increase with warmer weather. Still, they say more than 60 percent of burglaries target homes that are not even locked.

Larry Roth at Dorn True Value Hardware suggests a variety of cheap hardware upgrades that might make a would-be burglar turn away. Flip locks can strengthen doors you may rarely open. Reinforced box strikes can make it harder for someone to kick in a door because 3-inch screws secure the plate to studs and not just a door jamb. He recommends avoiding chain locks that can be easily kicked in.

Electronic upgrades can save money and make it look like you are home, even if you are traveling this summer. Some light timers can turn on at night randomly, instead of at pre-programmed schedules.

Minnesota-based Hydreon Corporation sells a $39.95 FakeTV device with flashing colored LED lights. It emits a glow resembling that of a TV. In an NBC 15 wattage test it used only a tenth the electricity of a small LCD TV.

Home security systems also may not cost as much as might think. Providers generally charge $30 - $50 per month, but many home insurance companies also offer 10 percent discounts for customers with the systems. This could cover a couple bills each year.

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