Once again, a homeowner moves in and shortly afterwards someone comes visiting and steals him blind. The latest incident — in which the thieves took some $15,000 worth of the guy’s tools — happened in a solidly upper-middle-class East-Valley suburb, lending some truth to what the cop told me at the time of the Garage Invasion episode: that this stuff happens all over the city, pretty uniformly, and it doesn’t much matter where you live.
Around here, moving companies apparently will hire anyone with a strong back and enough hunger to take a job hauling furniture and boxes. The result: some moving guys “moonlight”…literally. So, often people will get themselves moved in and then within a few days or weeks find some uninvited guests have carted off their possessions. And equally often, it’s painfully obvious that the intruders knew how to get in, what to look for, and where to find it.
When SDXB moved into the fixer-upper he bought here in the neighborhood, he (and the moving guys…) found the back door was unsecured — no functional deadbolt on it, and a glass pane in the cheap Home Depot-style door. Moving all his junk in was quite a job, and at some point along the line, he and I remarked that he should come over to my house for dinner and stay the night there, rather than trying to dig out his sheets and shovel aside junk so he could use the bedroom there.
Next morning he found the back door open and all his boxes cut open and rifled through. They were looking for weapons: they took all his good hunting knives, and a machete he’d picked up as a souvenir while he was stationed in Guatemala.
Mistake #1: He’d pasted an NRA sticker in his truck’s window.
Fortunately, SDXB had the foresight to stash his small arsenal of pistols, rifles, and shotguns at his mother’s place, so the thieves didn’t get any of his armaments. But that’s what they were looking for.
After SDXB moved to Sun City, the new owners of his house had almost the same thing happen. By then, of course, the doors had been secured. The City (which bought the house and handed it over to this couple as part of a relocation project when one of the barrios near the airport was leveled for a new runway) had paid for some very nice renovations. The couple goes off to shop or socialize and, in broad daylight, burglars enter the house. They know the dogs are harmless, and if they haven’t already become pals, throwing a couple handsful of dog kibble all across the kitchen floor made them best of friends. This time the perps stole several hundred dollars in cash, which (you may be sure) a family from the Third-World barrios near the airport could not spare. The couple did have homeowner’s insurance, but the insurance company refused to reimburse them because they couldn’t prove they even had cash in the house, much less how much it was.
A cop and his family moved in down the street. Wasn’t long before someone raided his shed and stole some tires he’d stored there. Unsurprisingly, in that case the perp was caught.
We all know, I suppose, the basic security rules of living in the big city (or in any place where your possessions aren’t red-hot or nailed down). But to those, let’s add a few strategies to keep your possessions and family safe during and after a move.
• Never place an NRA sticker on your vehicle! And don’t leave any copies of American Hunter laying around where movers can see them. Advertising that you’re a member of the NRA is the same as advertising that you have guns in the house. If you want to support the NRA, send them a check.
• Assume any crew of moving men is suspect. Don’t buy a moving company’s assurance that their guys have worked there for ten years.
→ Be present and watchful during the entire moving process.
→ Don’t leave the house to get food or run errands while the movers are present.
→ Do not say, within their earshot, that you intend to go out for dinner, run errands, or stay somewhere else overnight.
→ Emit disinformation in their presence: say you’re taking time off work or (better yet) that you’re retired or unemployed and always around the house.
→ Don’t mention owning any valuables while movers are working — don’t talk about jewelry, guns, cash, tools, hobbies that might entail marketable tools or products, collectibles, or the like
• Hire a reputable moving company. Using a nationally recognized company such as Mayflower’s interstate moving services will help improve safety.
• Stash jewelry and sentimental items at someone else’s house or in a storage unit while the move takes place. Leave them there for several weeks afterward.
• If you’re in the trades, stash your tools at the shop or at a friend’s or relative’s house, and move them into your new house later, without benefit of moving men. If you keep your tools in your truck, park it — locked — inside the garage (and lock the garage, too).
• If at all possible, have the locks rekeyed and high-quality deadbolts installed before moving day. If you don’t have access to the house before then, get a locksmith in on the day of the move.
• If the house has an alarm system, learn to use it right away, and activate it.
• Install security doors with pick-proof Medeco or Schlage locks. These are expensive and available only through locksmiths, but they are so worth the cost.
• F’rhvevvinsake, if you park your car or truck on the driveway, don’t leave the garage door opener in it! 😀
Image: Burglary tools found in bank, Canadian Illustrated News, 1875. Public Domain