TWINSBURG — Convincing burglars "not this house" was the focus of a Twinsburg Public Library presentation Feb. 26, as two veteran local police officers gave tips on "target hardening."

The two-hour talk on making their homes less attractive targets for burglars was presented by Community Service Bureau officers Ron Fruscella and Greg Kopniske, also school resource officers at Twinsburg High and R.B. Chamberlin Middle School, respectively.

"We’re not going to focus on alarms or cameras, we’re going to talk about less expensive options which homeowners can buy, and common sense ways to secure their homes," said Kopniske. 

"We can’t wipe out crime in Twinsburg or anywhere else," said Fruscella, "but we can build up Twinsburg’s reputation as a city where property owners excel at protecting themselves."

An experienced burglar who is now serving 41 years in prison has assisted Twinsburg police with the tricks of the trade.

"Joe was a good resource; he rode around with us after his capture and showed us what burglars look for when they’re targeting homes," said Kopniske. "We learned a lot from him."

Good lighting, secure doors, properly placed landscaping and dogs can make homes less attractive targets for burglars.

"Don’t just leave your front porch light on when you leave your home," said Fruscella. "Everyone turns that on. It might not be a good deterrent. Turn on other exterior and interior lights.

"Burglars especially don’t like to see kitchen lights on because that shows there could be activity inside the home. LED lights are inexpensive, and leaving lights on for a couple of hours doesn’t run up your electric bill much."

Strong doors with good deadbolt locks make it tougher for burglars to enter. The officers said a lock with a four-screw heavy duty strike plate is a good investment.

Sliding glass doors sometimes are easy ways for burglars to enter homes, so residents should use a strong, tight-fitting wooden dowel. Inexpensive glass door alarms and glass protection film are other measures to thwart break-ins.

According to the officers, planting prickly, thorny bushes under windows can limit a burglar’s ability to enter a home through a window. Improperly placed landscaping close to homes, though, can provide good hiding places for burglars.

Joe the burglar told the officers he was not scared of dogs themselves, but feared their barking since noise is something that can alert residents to potential burglars lurking outside.

COMMON SENSE TIPS

The officers cited motion detectors as a good security measure, although cunning burglars know ways to beat them. Posting homes with alarm warning signs is good, too.

The duo urged residents to park their cars in a garage if they have one, don’t leave briefcases, purses, iPads and money in their cars, and close and lock the garage doors and even the car doors.

Residents also should lock storage sheds and keep their homes and properties in good condition, because the officers said rundown homes sometimes are first targets for burglars.

If residents are out of town for a period of time, they should not let newspapers and mail pile up, and they should ask their neighbor to cut their grass.

"By all means, if you are going on vacation, don’t announce that fact on social media," said Fruscella. "Doing that is like advertising ‘I’m not here, go ahead and break into my house.’ Don’t post vacation photos on Facebook and Twitter either."

Residents should not let solicitors into their homes, and if they have concerns about the legitimacy of solicitors they should call police, who can check to see if the solicitors have required permits.

The officers urged residents to make sure their house numbers are clearly visible in front and on mailboxes in case emergency assistance is needed.

"Just use good common sense," Fruscella summarized.

The officers stressed that good relationships with neighbors go a long way in protecting homes. 

"Look out for each other," said Fruscella. "If you see something out of the ordinary on your neighbor’s property, call police," he said.

"If you hear something or see something, say something. It’s our job to respond to calls. Don’t be afraid to contact us if you see a strange car parked on the street or a suspicious person walking the neighborhood." 

Twinsburg police perform home and business security surveys free of charge. 

"We will walk your property, and even come inside if you allow us, to see how you can improve security," he said.

Twinsburg police also offer vacation watches in which officers check homes from time to time when occupants are on vacation or out of town for lengthy periods of time.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com