Safer foundation visits Prospect

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By Jack McDermott

Online Managing Editor

On Oct. 9, three inmates walked into Prospect on a mission, but a mission one might not expect.  The inmates were all previous burglars that are currently serving out their sentence.  They came to share their experiences and how the audience could better protect their homes.

When the burglars first walked into the Prospect theater Officer Jointer of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), who worked as a mediator for the event, made it clear that the inmates “came in peace,” and that there was no need for anyone to be scared in the audience.

“[The inmates] are doing this to try and mend their past and make up for past mistakes,” Crime Prevention Officer Greg Sill said.

The session started with Jointer asking the inmates various questions about what they looked for in potential houses, where they searched for valuables and what deterred them from entering a house (for a full list, check Deterrents below).

Surprisingly, deterrents did not include dogs (unless trained to protect its home) or alarm systems (unless used 100 percent of the time).

“No one thing is going to keep a burglar away.  [A security system] has to be many layers thick, including many things,” Sill said. “Having an alarm is a good thing if it is in your means, but the thing is, if you have one you have to use it.”

The burglars also mentioned that they rarely went into the basements of homes because of the possibility of being trapped, which is what these burglars feared most.

“Burglars don’t want to hurt or harm anyone,” one of the convicts said.  “[Burglars] just want the gold and the money.”

For this same reason, the burglars advised the audience to step aside if one was ever to encounter a burglar in the act, because the burglar’s main priority would be to get out, not go through the home-owner.

However, according to the the panelists, it would be very unlikely to walk into a robbery.  They all gave descriptions of how they would scope out a location days in advance and ring the front doorbell multiple times to ensure no one was home.

It was so important to the burglars that no living thing (even a pet) was in the residence because then, if caught, their crime would go from a simple burglary to a home invasion, the latter carrying a much heavier sentence.

At the end of the presentation, Jointer pointed out that the opinions and strategies of those three burglars did not represent all burglars, and the audience should take it for only a grain of salt.

Still, the event was very helpful, and Sill would love to bring the program to Mt. Prospect again, especially since it did not cost a dollar.

“I learn something every time,” Sill said.  “It makes you value those relationships that you have in a community and makes you make sure that other people are watching out for each other.”


Deterrents (things that would stop a burglar from robbing your house):

1) Locking doors and windows

2) Not leaving garbage cans or ladders next to the house, because they can be used to reach the second floor windows of homes.

3) Do not install privacy fencing or plant thick hedges because they can be used as cover.

4) Do not leave vehicle registration (which has an address) or a garage door opener in your car which can provide access to your house.

5) Know your neighbors and encourage nosy neighbors to keep a look out for suspicious characters.

6) If you have an alarm system, use it.

7) Secure any windows that have a window air-conditioner, as a burglar can easily remove an air-conditioner and climb through a window.

8) Have the television and lights go on and off intermittently, not on a repeating schedule.