Tax Season, Recycling, & Burglaries Have Something in Common

Dear Public Safety Friends,

Police across the United States find that the beginning of tax season, recycling cardboards and burglaries have something in common.  Investigators find that people tend to purchase high end products or electronics with their tax returns, and they recycle the box it came in by putting it in front of their house or in front of their apartment door (depending on your building's policy) during recycling days. The box clearly states what was in it or in some cases a picture of the item, for example a 47 inch Flat screen TV. The very next day or during that week, their house or apartment is burglarized and the item they just purchase, is stolen.

Most often burglars will always scout out an area before they strike, looking for a chance to score. Leaving boxes with pictures of high-end items out in front of your door is not recommended.  

Before discarding your box for recycling, please keep this in mind: Make sure you check with the store or manufacture's policy on returns.  If you are discarding your box for recycling, cut the box in a way you can turn it inside out with the picture facing in. Tie it up before putting it out.

Here are some helpful tips on burglary prevention.

The burglary basics:

  • Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
  • Push-button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
  • Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

Don't tempt a thief: 

  • Lawn mowers, snow blowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.
  • Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
  • Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
  • Never leave notes on your door such as "Gone shopping."

Locks...get the best:

  • No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
  • Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
  • When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.

Targeting the Outside:

  • Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
  • Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
  • Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.

Windows: If you live in an apartment building, check with the building owner or management company's policy on pinning windows before doing so. The majority of the new windows today have built in stoppers already which replaces "PINNING."

  • Most windows can be pinned for security.
  • Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.                
  • Have a fire escape window?  Installing a fire department approved gate on your window is recommended. Check with your building Superintendent or the local locksmith.


  • An alarm system is excellent for home security and can save you money on your home insurance policy. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
  • Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.

If Your Home Is Broken Into:
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:

  • Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
  • Use a neighbor's phone to call police 911.
  • Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
  • Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
  • Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.

Other precautions you should take:

  • Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other "secret" hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home -- this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
  • Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9­1­1 immediately.
  • Mark your valuables with your driver's license number with an engraver you can borrow from your precinct or CU Public Safety. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover. Join CU Public Safety's Operation ID Program, it's FREE, property is registered with the NYPD & CU. You can also purchase discounted Stop Theft deterrent tags, Call 212-854-8513 for more information.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. We can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary. 
  • The NYPD or your local police department offers FREE home or apartment Crime Prevention surveys. NYC residents can go to the NYPD website to locate the nearest police precinct in your community to set up an appointment: 

The MOST important thing YOU can do is CALL THE POLICE to report a CRIME or any SUSPICIOUS activity. You have to be the eyes of your neighborhood. And remember you can always remain a pair of anonymous eyes!

Remember the three L's of Crime Prevention: LIGHTS, LOCKS & the LAW!

Light up your residence, lock your doors at all times, and call the Law when you see something suspicious.