“Is this a safe neighborhood?” asks my buyer as we look at homes. I really can’t answer that question, but I can send my buyer to a myriad of websites to find out the answer. I might think it’s a safe hood, but I’m not a statistician. Thanks to technology you can find out where all the ‘Chester the Molesters’ live in your potential zip code and check police statistics for type of crimes (robberies, rapes, murders, etc.) in the area.
Recently I was showing homes to a mom and dad with three kids. They had grown out of their home in Rose Park and wanted more space. We hovered around two different neighborhoods and found two homes they liked that were about the same price. After our outing, the mom went home to her computer and went to the State website for sex offenders in Utah and discovered that by one of the homes there were 300 sex offenders, and only 12 offenders registered near the other one. She called me immediately and said ‘we want the home where only 12 creeps live nearby’. After some negotiations, they bought the house.
Apart from the obvious checks of public statistics and data about a neighborhood, there are other simple things both home owners and renters can do to make their property more secure. Remember the story on how Brian David Mitchell broke into the Smart house to abduct Elizabeth Smart? He supposedly cut through a screen in front of an open window. Crime happens in all neighborhoods, and many crimes happen just because people make it easy for criminals to harm them or steal their property. For crime statistics in Utah, go to: http://publicsafety.utah.gov/bci/crimestatistics .
Here are some good tips to be safer:
- Lock your damned house and your damned car. Police friends tell me the number one crime in Salt Lake City is ‘car prowls’-where cars are broken into (locked and unlocked) because people left stuff in them that was visible to the criminal;
- If you rent or buy, have your locks re-tumbled. You don’t have to go to the expense of buying all new locks when you take occupancy. Just have a lock smith re-tumble the guts of the locks and make a new key. If you’re a renter, do this with your landlord’s permission of course. You never know who’s had keys to your property before you got there, right?
- Consider installing an alarm system. There are several local companies that will come wire your house and put in simple to elaborate alarm systems. I had a home once where the front door lock didn’t always catch. For $30 a month I had an alarm system, and when the door blew open they would call me and tell me ‘your front door is open again’.
- When you have the lock smith or alarm company come over, have them take a look at your window locks as well. If you’re in an older home, there are often small basement windows which you might not think of as a potential entry for criminals-because the windows are just too small. That’s foolish because criminals break those windows out, have little kids crawl inside them once they are busted out to go open up doors.
- Meet your damned neighbors! I just listed a home where the owners had lived in the home 30 years and they had only met two neighbors during their entire occupancy. You let neighbors know your name, your contact information and watch your property when you aren’t home with a promise to do the same for them. Better yet, get your neighborhood involved in the local neighborhood mobile watch program.