Rate Your Risk: Are you increasing chances of a break-in?

Reported by Tim Miller -
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Posted by Nick Dutton - email

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - How safe do you feel when you lock your doors at night? Are you unknowingly increasing your chances of a break-in?

Tim Miller has a look at the main risks you may be putting yourself in. He's has uncovered the secrets that criminals don't want you to know. Plus, expert tips from police and also some hard lessons from a burglary victim.

"There's fear, I mean I have fear, there's no doubt about it. I mean it's a horrible thing, it's a horrible invasion, you just feel so violated," says burglary victim Pat Fields.

That's what it feels like to be a victim of a burglary. Pat Fields lives in west Toledo's Charlestown Avenue. It's a street hit hard by break-ins this past summer.

The burglar got into her home through a doggie door and stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. A lot of the pieces were gifts, from her late husband.

"I suffered tremendously, I still suffer. Because it, to me, it's just horrible, that anyone thinks that they can walk in somebody's house, help themselves to whatever," says Fields.

According to Uniform Crime Reports, there were 5,921 burglaries in the city of Toledo in 2007. While that did represent a 14 percent drop from 2006, it's still a very common crime that you could fall victim to.

"Make your house look livable all the time. That somebody is around."

Retired Police Sergeant Richard Murphy walked around a Toledo neighborhood with Tim Miller, sharing the most common risk factors for burglaries. What are residents doing that make them more vulnerable?

"Here's an example of a garage door open. They shouldn't have that door opened. (Miller: Even though they might think everything is fine and they have control because they're home right?) Right, they're home, they might be in the backyard, they might be some place else. They could come right in here and open up the back of the truck, take out whatever he has in the back of the truck and then be gone."

What they do is they drive around looking for different things, and they come into these nice neighborhoods and they are looking for things to take."

Sergeant. Murphy says you should always keep your doors locked. Some well placed lighting could keep trouble away.

"He doesn't want to be seen. So if a light comes on, he's illuminated and he's gone. He's got to go someplace else."

The suspect in pat fields' break-in has pleaded guilty and she did recover some of her stolen jewelry. But she says she'll always have that fear-- it could happen again. She got rid of the dog door and is taking safety into her hands more than ever.

"I constantly lock my doors now, which drives me crazy because I don't like to have to live like that. But I feel I have to. No matter how many times I go in and out in a day's time, that door is locked right behind me," says Fields.