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By Tammye McDuff

My husband and I live in a modest three bedroom house with a six foot cinder block wall,  front gate; the house sits on the back portion of the property.

Saturday afternoon, July 1st, I found an odd white ‘X’ on the walkway between the front gate and the front door. I called to my husband he said to remove it immediately.  It had not been chalked onto the walkway; we believe it was made with a rock or small stone.

Being a former Sheriff for Orange County, my husband said criminals have a ‘sign language’ all their own.  Taking a marker or stone, they will scope out houses and leave marks on the driveway, sidewalk or walkway denoting the type of house it is. We received an ‘X’, which means the burglar thought it would be a good target.

We contacted the local Sheriff’s department to report the incident. Because there was nothing taken and no break in, the Special Investigator took note of our address, should anything occur in the future.  We alerted our Neighborhood Watch and the Bellflower Watch organizations with the information and we have taken further action to protect our home.

While the 4th of July for most people, means gathering with friends, family and fireworks, for criminals it means something entirely different: the opportunity to cash in on homes.  Last year, at this time, overall crime rose 6.3% across the county compared with the same period in 2015. Property crime was up 3.8% and violent offenses climbed by 15.9%.

Your home is particularly vulnerable to a break-in during a holiday and vacation time. Burglars watch for vacancy signs: accumulating stacks of mail, piles of newspapers, and steady-burning or always-off entry lights. You can monitor your home remotely with network cameras. Pet-Immune Motion Detectors uses digital technology to prevent false alarms, as it ignores anything weighing less than 60 pounds and it can be integrated with an existing security system, or operate independently to alert you of any unwanted visitors.

There are numerous interactive phone apps that are some of the most versatile home security applications on the market.

For a one-time fee, you can download an app that lets you view live and archived video of your home, turn lights on and off, and control home security systems. There is a shatter resistant window film that you can apply; cross bar police locks, full service home security systems and motion sensor lighting.