Above and Beyond Tips for Home Protection. How Good is Your Deadbolt?

April 21, 2017 in break ins, burglary, crime, Crime Tips, deadbolt, safety tips, security by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

There are many factors that can make your home a better target for burglary than other homes. For example, your house is at greater risk if:

  • It sits on a corner lot (more visible to a browsing burglar and a natural place to stop and ask for directions)
  • It is located close to a major highway exit (less than 1 mile)
  • It is located on a through street, which gives a burglar a quicker escape (dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs are safer)
  • It borders a wooded area or playground (provides concealed access for burglars)
  • It is in a wealthier neighborhood
  • It features no signs of young children living there (burglars avoid as someone may be home)
  • It was recently purchased (burglars know you haven’t yet developed close familiarity with neighbors)


What can you do to prevent yourself from being a target or stop a criminal if they try to get in? You probably know some of the more common tips, such as:

  • Install a burglar alarm and/or put up an alarm system sign.
  • Don’t let mail and newspapers build up.
  • Set lights on timers to give the appearance someone is home.
  • Have motion activated exterior lights.
  • Adopt a dog that will make noise if they hear someone attempting to get in.


But there are actually easy ways to make your house considerably more secure. One especially important way to prevent break ins is actually pretty simple. Have a good deadlock. 65% of break ins occur by forcing a door open. 12% occur because the criminal finds your “hidden” key.

“I have a deadlock, so I’m safe.” Not necessarily. St. Louis is filled with older homes, and many deadlocks are outdated. Do you know the grade of your deadlock? You should always go for Grade 1 deadbolts, they are the most effective. Shorter deadbolts makes it easier to break your door. For example, look at this older deadbolt compared to a newer Grade 1 model:


“I have a new deadbolt, so I’m safe.” Once again, not necessarily. A deadbolt is only as effective as the nails you use. How long are the nails that connect your deadbolt to your door frame? Many come with short 1/2 – 1 inch nails. With nails that short, it is easy to break the frame of your door. You should replace all of your nails with ones at least 3 inches long. These longer nails will go into the studs of your house and make it extremely hard to break down your door. Look at this example:


Simple things like having better deadbolts and nails, locking up when you leave, not leaving an accessible “hidden” key, and working together with your neighbors to keep an eye on your block are effective ways of protecting your home. Remember, not all locks are built the same. Don’t let this be you:


Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern

Thank you to “The Family Handyman” for providing information and photos on deadbolt improvement.  Visit their website to learn how to install new deadbolts/nails yourself.

Information on houses being targets was taken from a research study, “Knowing Your Odds: Home Burglary and the Odds Ratio,” by S. Hakim, G. Renger and Y. Shachamurove, City College of New York and University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 2000

Crime Tips – December 2016

December 29, 2016 in Crime Tips, personal safety, phone apps by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

You may hear the same tips over and over on how to prevent crime or victimization, such as locking your doors and hiding valuables. But here are some tips that you may not have heard before or are not as obvious, but are just as important.

  • Keep your keys in hand – Criminals wait for you to be off your guard, keeping your car or house keys in hand for easy access is a great way to avoid being distracted or slowed down.
  • Don’t follow the same patterns – Leaving and returning home at the same time every day, going to the same coffee shop, grocery store, or bar, taking the same routes to your favorite spot, or even a jog route can help criminals plot where you are going to be. Try varying your routes and visiting new places occasionally. Being unpredictable can be a great asset.
  • Say no to strangers – We all want to be helpful and friendly, but it probably isn’t a good idea to lend out your phone, give people money, or get caught up in a conversation. Your priority should be your safety. Catching nice strangers off guard makes it easier to take off with their things.
  • Learn defensive moves – If someone is threatening you to give up your belongings, you should give them up and get out of there. Personal items can be replaced. But if they continue the attack or are attacking you for reasons other than theft, learning some basic self-defense moves can make a big difference. Read some self-defense tips here.
  • Carry a whistle or other loud device – Criminals don’t want you to bring attention to the situation. Scream, blow a whistle, or set off an alarm. Anything to make them hesitate so you can get away.
  • Look for a personal safety phone app – There are multiple choices these days for apps that can schedule fake phone calls from friends in case you need an out from a situation, send your current location and an alert to a friend if you feel unsafe, or even call the police. These apps can be subtle and unnoticeable to the people you are around. Here is a list of some iPhone and Android apps. 

If you are a victim of a crime, don’t be afraid to reach out. Report the crime to the police and look into crime victim help groups.


Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern

Winter Safety Tips

December 2, 2016 in Crime Tips, Current News, ice, safety, snow, winter by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Winter is a beautiful season, but cold and snowy/icy conditions can present a lot of safety concerns. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe and warm this winter.

Vehicle Safety. Be prepared. Keep a flashlight, ice scraper, warning devices (e.g. flares, reflectors), jumper cables, first aid kit, snow shovel and rock salt or sand, bottled water and snacks, and extra blankets in your vehicle. Always have a cell phone with you (but don’t keep it in the car). Don’t leave your car running to warm it up in the morning or to keep it warm while pumping gas or running into the store, this is an easy way to get your vehicle stolen.

Driving Safety. If your car is parked outside, make sure the exhaust pipe and the area around it is clear of snow before you start the car. In icy and snowy conditions, drive slowly, allow plenty of stopping time, and pay attention to the road and other drivers. If you get stuck in the snow, light two flares and place one at each end of the car, a safe distance away. Make sure snow isn’t blocking the exhaust pipe, and stay in the vehicle with a window open slightly to allow fresh air.

Home Safety. Be prepared. Have a week’s worth of food, drinking water, medicine and prescription drugs, pet food, and safety supplies on hand. Do not leave lit candles unattended. Keep your sidewalks and driveway clear of snow each day. If you are unable to remove it, contact a willing neighbor or a snow removal business to do it for you. For those going away this season, snow left on the driveway and sidewalk for a period of time can be a dead giveaway that you aren’t home, so arrange for it to be cleared every day.


Have a safe and happy winter season.

Abby Orscheln – Safety & Security Intern

Leaving Children Home Alone

November 16, 2016 in alone, Crime Tips, Current News, home, Kids, Neighborhood Ownership Model, Safety & Security Model, safety tips by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Sometimes it is necessary to leave children home alone, whether you are at work while they are coming home from school, going to the grocery store, or out handling other errands. There are certain steps you can take to ensure that your children are safe even when home alone.

Safety Tips for Parents Leaving Their Children Home Alone
  • Post an emergency phone list somewhere easily visible for your children and leave a phone for the child to use.
  • Practice an emergency plan with your children so they know what to do if there is a fire, if they get hurt, or if there are any other emergencies.
  • Let children know where emergency supplies are, such as flashlights and first aid.
  • Safely store dangerous or hazardous items away from children.
    • Knives
    • Guns
    • Medicines
    • Detergents
    • Scissors
    • Etc.
  • Install safety covers on electrical outlets.
  • Tell your children to not talk about being home alone on social media or on public websites.
  • Set up a schedule for checking up on your children. (Have them send a text each hour, or call at a certain time.)

Safety Tips for Children Home Alone
  • Lock the doors
  • Never open the door to strangers
    • Not even delivery people or service representatives
  • Don’t tell anyone online that you are home alone.
  • Never leave the house without permission
  • Don’t have friends over without permission
  • If you smell smoke or hear the fire alarm go to a neighbor and ask them to call the fire department.
  • Check up with your parents, so they know you are safe.

The most important thing is to simply talk with your children about safety. You know your children best, and you know if they are responsible enough to be left home alone. Teach them some of the basic tips above and set some basic ground rules for when they are home alone. Stay safe!

Dalton Davidson, Safety and Security Intern

Hate Crimes

November 10, 2016 in Crime Tips, Current News, Forest Park Southeast, fpse, hate crime, The Grove by fpsesafety

The following post is from: Safety & Security

Hate crimes are a felony offense. A hate crime is a type of crime committed against a person, property, or society that was motivated in part or in whole by bias, prejudice, or bigotry against a certain perceived sexual orientation, race, color, ethnicity, religion, creed, gender, disability, ancestry, or national origin. Even misdemeanor crimes, such as theft, trespassing, damage to property, or disorderly conduct can be charged as felonies if there was a biased motivation. 

Missouri provides enhanced penalties for motivational factors in certain crimes. To know which crimes are associated with the penalty, refer to this statute.

To read the most recent report on hate crime in Missouri, refer to this 2013 document.

What should you do if you are a victim of a hate crime?

  1. Seek medical attention if necessary.
  2. Write down all of the details as soon as possible – Include things like the perpetrator(s) gender, age, height, race, weight, clothes, and other distinguishing characteristics. If any threats or biased comments were made, include them in your report.
  3. File a report –
    • Police report
      • Make sure to get the responding officer’s name and badge number
      • Make sure an incident report was filed and ask for a copy.
      • Encourage the officer to report it as a hate crime.
    • FBI report
      • The FBI takes a high priority position on investigating hate crimes as part of their Civil Rights program, contact your local department after filing a police report.
    • Notify a local community organization about what happened
      • Various religious, race, LGBTQ, gender, etc., organizations can help you navigate what to do after an incident.

If you see a hate crime being perpetrated, intervene if safe to do so or call the police. Don’t let people bring down the quality of your neighborhood, state, or country with bigotted or racist acts. It is a pretty tense time in America right now, but we should use it as an opportunity to come together and help one another.

Information was gathered from the Human Rights Campaign website and the FBI website.


Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern