Even a Police Chief Can Be Burglarized: What To Learn

On June 13 the Asbury Park Press reported that former Lakewood Police Chief Robert C. Lawson was the victim of a burglary. The crime occurred around the same time that Lawson was planning to retire after 35 years of service. The biggest takeaway from the report lies in the fact that even a respected police chief can be victimized by burglary.

Even a Police Chief Can Be Burglarized: What To Learn

Here are the facts: Lawson and his wife were out at a graduation when the crime occurred; he initially discovered that he had been burglarized by noticing the screen to a sliding glass door in the back of the house propped up against his home; and he saw pry marks on the door.

Now, in the past we’ve recommended that a homeowner never enter his or her home if there is any indication that a burglary occurred. However, Lawson deemed his property safe to enter. His wife went upstairs to the bedroom only to find her armoire ajar and her jewelry case forced open and cleaned out. She also noticed that the locked drawer where her husband kept his handgun (a Smith & Wesson .357 caliber Magnum revolver) was left open and the gun was missing. The family also had three laptops stolen – their losses came to $25,000 in total.

The Asbury Park Press reported that Lawson had an idea of who had committed the crime almost immediately after it had occurred. He believes that the culprit is the “Fourteenth Street Burglar,” a serial thief known in the area. This is another trend that we have focused on in the past and it highlights why it’s so important to have a neighborhood watch program in your neighborhood and a security camera system installed in your home.

The “Fourteenth Street Burglar” is still at-large and he has committed a string of lucrative burglaries targeting upscale homes in the Fourteenth Street area in the northwest section of Lakewood. According to the Asbury Park Press, many of the victims were members of the township’s Orthodox Jewish Community who had valuable silvers, religious items, jewelry and other possessions stolen from their home.

The writer of the article, Shannon Mullen, asked Lawson if he had a security system in place at the time of the burglary. His response may surprise you.

“I do now,” he said.

Now, who knows what would’ve happened if Lawson had a security system in place at the time of the burglary, but basic logic would lead one to believe that the attack could have been abandoned. Or at the very least, he would have gotten some footage of the criminal thanks to a security camera system that would have likely been in place. The Electronic Security Association reports that 74 percent of uncompleted intrusions can be credited to to an audible alarm system.

Another thing to consider is that the burglar entered the police chief’s property through the back sliding glass door. According to the Chicago Tribune, 22 percent of burglars enter through the back door. Many homeowners tend to leave the backdoor much less secured than the front door. As we saw here, it’s essential to properly secure every ground level entry point to a home, especially here on the Jersey Shore where back decks and patios are an extremely common feature. We have provided some quick tips to fortifying your sliding glass door below.

1. Install a security system

Burglars also like sliding glass doors because they allow burglars to case a room from outside. Having an uncovered sliding glass door leaves your home open to attack. A burglar can take a quick inventory of a large portion of your home without even stepping inside.

These are the reasons why it’s extremely important to make sure your sliding glass door is wired into your home alarm system, which can be easily done by technicians from professional security companies. Homeowners can also install glass-break sensors on sliding glass doors in case a burglar decides to shatter the glass. Wiring the security alarm system to your sliding glass door should be the first step in securing the sliding door, but here are some practical ways to increase your security and deter criminals from targeting your home.


2. Test Out Your Lock

Most sliding glass doors will have a lock on the inside of the door near the handle. As a precautionary security measure, lock your sliding glass door and firmly attempt to open it from the outside. If it doesn’t budge at all, you’re good to go. If you notice a slight give or if you can visibly see the door open, it’s time to fix your lock. Consider hiring a professional to bolster both your lock and your door frame.


3. Install a Slide-Locking Bar

While this may sound like a technically challenging installment, it’s actually very simple. You may even be able to find a metal bar or slab of wood in your garage that fits into the sliding door’s track on the inside of your home. After you lock the door for the night, simply slide the block into the track. This will further keep the door from being opened if someone does try to pick the lock. While the alarm will still sound, it can’t hurt to even further protect the point of entry.


4. Maintain the Tracks

Many of us have seen what happens when the tracks on a sliding door become jammed or broken. The door no longer slides fluidly, but in a stop-and-go motion that can cause it to completely fall off the tracks. This is very dangerous, not only because there is a risk of injury, but because it compromises the security of a home. If a burglar can easily get your door off of its tracks, he or she could easily gain access to your home. Clean the tracks of your sliding glass door from time to time in order to prevent this from happening.

So, logically speaking, it’s very important for homeowners to properly secure their sliding door(s). Since there are so many beach properties on the Jersey Shore, it’s even more important for residents to make sure the sliding glass door on a beach home is secure… because burglars will often target it as an entry point, given how often beach homes are left uninhabited.


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