It Can Happen to You: Your Stories...
The stories below were submitted by Surprise residents who were the unfortunate victims of property-related crimes. Don't be a victim! Click here for tips to protect your home and vehicle
Parked our car in our driveway, left windows down because it was hot out. Forgot about the windows down, went to bed. Woke up in the middle of the night for some reason. Checked out the house & found the garage door open. I thought I had forgotten to close it. Next day, found GPS missing from car. Thief must have used garage door opener that was on visor to enter garage. Luckily, we deadbolt the door from garage to house, so no intruder made it inside the living area.
I was the victim of a vehicle burglary about 6 years ago in Phoenix. It was devastating because I lost hundreds of dollars in property that was in the vehicle. My vehicle was locked at the time, but that did not prevent the theft. My driver’s side window was broken out during the incident. Since then I have learned to keep my car doors locked, windows closed, remove valuables from the vehicle, and when unable to remove valuables, I at least hid them from view. This has reduced my risk tremendously. I have not been a victim since then.
In my opinion, the best solution is to have the mindset of “make yourself the lesser target”. If you were a criminal, wouldn’t you look for opportunities with greater rewards and requiring less effort? If my neighbor doesn’t lock their car, and I do, they are more likely to be victimized. If there is nothing of valuable visible in my vehicle, and my neighbor has an iPad visible, they are more likely to be victimized. You can’t always stop a criminal, but you can reduce your risk.
Additionally, I keep my vehicle in the garage whenever possible. When I can’t park in the garage, I make sure that my front lights are on to increase visibility in front of my home. Moreover, I NEVER leave a garage door opener in the car (I bought a keychain version so I can take it with me). Finally, I never leave documents with personal information in the car, and I always keep a copy of my insurance card in my wallet in case my car is stolen so I at least know the VIN number when reporting to the police.
Our car was just broken into last night.... I thought I felt safe in our neighborhood until now. Setting up an alarm system on the house today!
It was May 2, 2011 about 7:30 pm and someone kept ringing my doorbell. I had lights on TV on and knew I did not know who was ringing the doorbell so I ignored it after looking out and trying to see if I could see a car in front or any other issues. Finally after 5 minutes of door bell ringing stopped. I went to look out the front window to see who could be doing that, and I saw no one but when i walked back into my living room there was an intruder in my living room and I startled him and he turned his back and ran out the patio door which he entered through. I did have patio screen door locked lights on and TV, but his boldness in taking off my RV gate lock and cutting the screen door screen and entering through a partially opened patio door after he cut the screen door where the lock is how he boldly entered. Fortunately for me I started screaming what are you doing in my house etc and he fled and I don’t know how he fled but police never caught him and never saw the cut screen door, I had to call them back a second time to report the way he got in and I was told this is typical and there are many break-ins in my particular neighborhood and the problem here is allot of these builders built homes that have garages in front so neighbors don’t see out of the front windows because they are garages., I was lucky not to be harmed physically but the emotional issues have you rethinking all your daily habits. Having a security system armed even when u are home is a must. But a few cheap hand held alarms and activate them if you have suspicious activity till police arrive. I still believe it was a process server who was looking for someone and decided to snope beyond his scope of the law .do not open door to find out who it is because friends all have cell phones and I would expect they would call you from a phone to alert you they are at your house.hey I’m at your house open up. Activate your alarm to any strangers do not open your door to strangers ever. Especially at night. If you know someone is coming to visit that is a different story but these random door bell ringers are most likely working with someone to see if you are home. I was told a guy had the same thing happen to him. He was upstairs taking a shower and never heard his door bell but when he went downstairs was confronted by a burglar just like me. Arm yourself with hand held cheap alarms and activate it, keep your alarm on when you are home or away, install motion activated lights around exterior of residence. I am a lucky survivor but the experience is life changing. Do not open doors to any strangers ever, if someone knows you and are at your house they will call from their car or cell phone that they are there to visit. Unknown door knockers are the first things to look out for. if you didn’t invite them why would you even bother to talk to them , security company told me to flicker outside lights as a warning and activate indoor alarm or hand held alarm but make it known someone is in the home or apartment, and call the police immediately. It takes time for the police to get there, let door knockers know you are in the house somehow without opening your door and becoming a statistic, I know everyone has different scenarios; this is what I have gone through. learning every day , and have to remind myself not to even keep a door or window opened a little bit when I am home after this. You just don’t know who s watching you, be it landscapers, painters, can never be off guard. Do not allow strangers working at your house to use your bathroom either. Tell them to go to McDonalds or burger king. Just be cautious who comes to your home to do repairs. Call the police if you see suspicious activity of any kind. Flicker lights, and beware of dog signs and lock your locks on gates and sheds. Inform neighbors of break-ins or suspicious cars etc. Exterior cameras are my next step and I hope to have that soon.
I used my debit card at a local gas station, and I entered my pin number, instead of using the card like a credit card. Someone swiped my information, and used it to withdraw $500.00 from my account, at an ATM in California. I was at work when that happened. I first went to the police station to file a report of theft from my bank account. Then, with the police report copy, I went to my bank, and reported the theft to my card, then cancelled that account. I had to open up a new account. The bank has to have permission from you, in writing, to work with the police. The bank manager said a lot of people don't do the police report, and then the bank and the police have a hard time working together to give information that might be used to find the criminal. I found out that other people at the bank had similar money theft, and when I had filed the police report, the police told me at least 14 people had been in that same day to file for the same reason. It was determined that a skimmer, a device used to glean credit card numbers and pins must have been on a gas pump somewhere in the city. So this happened to other people. Because the bank is federally insured, I was able to prove it wasn't me or someone I knew that withdrew this money from the ATM in California, and my money was refunded. I now do not use my debit at gas stations, I check any kind of ATM for a device that may be on/inside of the swipe area, and leave without using the ATM or gas pump if things look sketchy. I haven't had any more problems, but I did look on youtube.com on what skimmer devices look like so I could make myself more aware of what criminals do to unknowing victims with credit card scams.
I had just opened a new account at Wells Fargo. I ordered a box of checks. They would arrive in 10 to 12 working days. I knew I would be on vacation, so I asked the bank to hold my checks for an extra week. They said they would do that for me. The bank -did not relay the information to the printing company, and my checks were sent out while I was on vacation. They were delivered to my mail box in my neighborhood. Our community, Kingswood Parke has the old fashioned rural route delivery boxes and not the cluster boxes. The mail sat one day, as the person taking care of my house stopped by to get mail every other day. The mail was taken by a thief, including the brand new box of checks. The day I got home from vacation, the Peoria police called asking me if I wrote a check for a couch/ or sold a couch to someone. I said no. I asked what check it was on. Peoria Police said they were at a check cashing store in Peoria, where a woman was trying to cash a fraudulent check, from my wells fargo account. I immediately let them know my checks had been stolen. Then I filed a police report with the City of Surprise, and the City of Peoria. The woman was arrested. She had drugs in her possession, and my box of checks. I contacted the bank and put a freeze on my bank account, then called the credit reporting agencies and asked for a security freeze (so no new credit would be opened in my name). I wondered what other mail this woman stole, and what other things I might be missing. I also wondered if she had anything with my email on it. The credit freeze was a slight hassle for me, but a good measure of protection. I had to prove it was really me anytime I used my credit cards, but a quick phone call at any retailer to the credit reporting agency made me feel confident no new credit would be opened in my name. The only other major change, is I no longer receive mail at my house. I pay for a post office box, and I feel my mail is more secure and protected.
I live in the Litchfield Manor neighborhood, West Redfield Road and have been victims of our house being egged along with the garage door being hit with heavy objects leaving big dents in the door. Along with profanity being written on our garage door as well.