CSUN PD Residential Security Workshop – How to make your home a safer place

Aprile Sumague

The Basic Residential Security workshop took place at the Department of Police Services last Wednesday. Crime prevention coordinator Dan Foster gave tips on residential security. Photo Credit:
The Basic Residential Security workshop took place at the Department of Police Services last Wednesday. Crime prevention coordinator Dan Foster gave tips on residential security. Photo Credit: Zara Aleksanyan / Staff Photographer

Kevin McAllister was accidentally left behind when his family took off to Paris for a Christmas family vacation. He was 8 years old, and enjoyed living by himself until two intruders tried to rob his house. He protected his home and himself by learning how to fight the robbers.  He arranged traps throughout the house, left glue and nails on the steps leading to the attic and used an electric fan and feathers to distract the burglars.

These are scenes from the 1990 movie, “Home Alone.” In movies and television shows, this approach to taking down the bad guys may work but in real life knowing how to secure one’s home can be difficult.

Daniel Foster, the CSUN Department of Police Services crime prevention coordinator, held a workshop Wednesday about basic residential security. The goal of the workshop was to provide participants with information that will help reduce the risk of criminal victimization in and around their home by increasing awareness of the safety measures and resources available.

Foster started the workshop with a pop quiz asking what time of the day most burglaries occur.  He then explained that burglaries tend to occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. when no one is likely to be home.

Crimes are specific and situational, he said. Specifically, on our campus, it tends to be opportunistic. Victims casually leave some property unattended or in an open place where it can be seen or stolen.

He also said crimes relate to land and transportation networks. Offenders tend to go to places they are comfortable in. Crimes arise out of daily activities, routines and in places without observers or security features.

Foster discussed a method called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design that included three crime prevention strategies: natural surveillance, access control and territorial reinforcement.

The primary purpose of natural surveillance is not to keep intruders out, although it may have that effect, but to keep intruders under observation.

One of the examples of natural surveillance is lighting. Foster said burglars are like cockroaches, “if you turn on the light, they tend to run away.”

“Lighting dissuades people from criminal activities,” Foster said.

The second strategy is natural access control. Access control refers to doors, fences, shrubs and other physical elements to keep unauthorized persons out of a particular place. Access control can be achieved by the use of adequate locks, doors and window barriers.

An ideal house for an intruder is surrounded by large shrubs that may hamper visibility from the street and neighbor’s houses. Another tip is to prune trees so it won’t help intruders climb into a second floor window or balcony. Also, consider the use of plants with thorns and needles and a dense structure.

The final strategy is territorial reinforcement. It defines property lines and distinguishes private space from public spaces using fences, pavement treatment, signs,  and landscaping.

Gardens, artwork and furniture individualize spaces and show that someone cares and is paying attention. House or street numbers should be visible from the street.

“You can have a thousand rabid dogs and the most elaborate alarm system, but if you don’t feed the dogs, you neglect them and you forget to hit armed, it does no good,” Foster said. “You have to maintain and use it.”

Foster added that graffiti and unregistered or non-operating vehicles must be reported immediately. The graffiti hotline is 311, and to report vehicles, call 1-800-ABANDON/1-800-222-6366.

The following is a list of other workshops conducted by the police department that are available to students, staff, faculty and the community. The workshops are held at the CSUN Police Department on the corner of Darby and Prairie.

* Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) –Basic self-defense for women. Oct. 14, 15, 21 and 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* Aerosol Defense for Citizens – The basics for pepper spray. Nov. 4 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* Identity Theft Prevention – Dec. 9 from noon to 1 p.m.

For more information contact Daniel Foster at (818) 677-5820 or daniel.foster@csun.edu.