Friday, March 29, 2013

Bicycle Theft Prevention

As we enter warmer months more and more bicycles will be hitting the streets.  Bicycle safety is a topic for another blog or another time. Check out for tons of information on safety issues and driving your bike.  What I would like to address tonight is the prevention of bicycle theft.  This in some respects is a very basic concept.  In some cities and communities bicycle theft is one of the most prevalent crimes on the daily crime report.  Why is this?  In some places like the jersey shore towns near me it has to do with a lack of awareness of the problem combined with a lack of security on the part of bike owners. Simple concept warning:  Don't leave the bike unattended without some type of security device in place.

Some other recommendations:
  1.      Secure the bicycle inside a building whenever possible.  Bicycles left on the lawn, standing by the garage, or loose in front of the local convenience store will disappear in seconds.
  2.      Use a good quality lock AND secure the bike to a strong metal object.  See the SFBike website for some excellent recommendations on securing your bicycle.
  3.     Record the make, model, and serial number of your bicycle so that it can be returned to you should it be stolen and recovered.  My police department recovered at least 100 bicycles every year but had no way of returning them since the owners either did not have serial numbers when they were reported stolen, or they never reported the theft.  I once recovered a $2500 mountain bike.  The owner had recorded the serial number but the local police department, not mine, entered the number incorrectly into NCIC.  I was only able to locate the owner through a bike shop decal that was on the down tube.  When I called the shop they knew right away who owned the bike because they had only sold one of that make and model.
  4.      If available register your bike with your local police department and display the registration sticker prominently.  This will help in recovery. 

Although have have ridden bicycles for most of my life for thousands of miles.  I have never had one stolen.  this is not luck.  It comes from following these basic prevention tips.

Thank you,

Frank Plunkett

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's the holiday season.

I am a little behind schedule on this one but it is still of great value. The holiday season is rife with opportunities for crime. Shopping leaves us open to thefts, robbery, and car thefts. Huge parking lots full of cars. Long walks back to the car after dark. Cars filled with packages. all temptation for the criminal mind. Be sure to lock your vehicle, know where you parked, and do not leave any packages visible in the car. It is best to lock them in the trunk and then move the car as if you are leaving rather than walking back to the store.
During this season many of us will be traveling and visiting, leaving our homes unoccupied. Be sure to make the home looked lived in. Use the same basic home security techniques recommended in the previous post.
When visiting, do not leave valuables in plain view in the car even if only for a little while. enterprising thieves walk or drive through neighborhoods looking for gifts and other valuables in your car and will break in and take them while you are busy enjoying your visit. Be safe, be aware, and have a great holiday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Computer Related Robberies

Have you ever advertised something for sale on-line. Web sites like Craig's List and Ebay handle the lions share of sales of used items that used to only bee seen in newspapers. Recently in Philadelphia two separate people advertised expensive watches. The ads were answered by males who set up meetings on streets in the city. Both advertisers were robbed. See the story: The moral of the story is to be careful when selling to strangers. Get as much identifying information as possible before meeting. Meet in a public place. Be alert to your surroundings. STAY SAFE!
Frank Plunkett


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Protect Yourself Against Home Invasions

Recently in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey a man pretending to be a Pizza Deliveryman attempted to force his way into a home. The residents were able to push the door closed and keep him out. Story at: This situation ended positively for the family. Other similar situations have ended in robberies, rapes, and murders. Simple caution when returning home, and when answering the door can prevent the majority of these types of crimes.

When you leave the home during the day you should be sure that lights will be on when you arrive at home. Lights that come on at dusk and turn off at dawn are recommended for all entry doors. Lights with motion sensors should be position around the property as noted previously in our discussion of burglary prevention. Shrubs, trees and obstructions that block the view of the entry door from the street should be trimmed or removed. These simple techniques will discourage many would be home invaders.

When coming home you should be aware of your surroundings and any persons standing at or near your home. If you are not sure drive around the block and return. If the person is still there you should keep driving and call 911 (in the US) or other emergency number to contact police. If you enter your home using an automating garage door be sure to pay attention that no one slips in the door behind you after you drive in.

When answering the door at home adults should be just as cautious as they expect their children to be. Use a peephole or nearby window to identify who is at the door before opening. If you do not recognize the person you should challenge them without opening the door. If you have any suspicions you should contact the police.

Remember that most communities require people selling door to door to register and carry identification. People working for utilities will have uniforms and identification. Never open the door if you are not sure who is one the other side. Questions and comments are welcome. More to follow.

Frank Plunkett

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lakewood NJ Police Officer Killed. Suspect captured in Camden NJ.

It has been a few months since I last posted. I am developing some new material to be posted soon. In the mean time I want to use this space to thank the citizens whose tips helped to capture Jahmell Crockam the suspect in the killing of Lakewood NJ police officer Christopher Matlosz on Friday afternoon. Crockam was captured on Sunday, January 16, 2011 in Camden NJ. Details can be viewed at Once again, thank you to the citizens that help capture this killer.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Window and Door Security Part 1 Hinged Doors

In my last post I discussed the importance of the physical security of your home in order to prevent burglary. In the next series of posts I want to discuss two essential elements of that physical security, doors and windows. Today's discussion will be about hinged exterior doors.

Owners of new homes have an expectation that all is secure. This is often far from the truth. Homeowners should inspect each of the doors and windows in the new home for proper installation and adequate security. Two problems I have encountered in new homes in my years doing residential security inspections are improper installation and poor quality materials. The following recommendations are applicable to new and existing homes.

Let us address improper installation first. Exterior hinged doors should be made of a solid material like wood or steel. They should have a quality deadbolt lock (to be addressed in a future post) and that lock, and the door itself must be installed properly. The bolt on a deadbolt lock has a throw of approximately one inch. At the inch the deadbolt engages. If the bolt does not travel the full throw it may not engage and you do not have a dead bolt effect. One of the installation issues I have seen is the hole that receives the bolt being too short. The worst case I have seen was in a new home where the hole was only one quarter of an inch. The homes security relied on that one quarter inch of bolt into the short hole. The dead bolt did not engage allowing someone to use a slim tool of some kind or a credit card to slide the bolt back and thereby unlock the door. That hole needs to be bored the entire length of the bolt so that the bolt does not hit the inside of the hole before the deadbolt can engage.

Another issue is hinged doors installed inside out. Normally the hinges and hinge pins on an exterior door should only be accessible from the inside of the home. Improper installation leaving those pins accessible from the outside allows someone to remove the pins and pry open the door on the side opposite the lock. If you have exposed hinges on the outside and cannot reinstall the door this problem can be rectified by "pinning the hinges". This is done by removing the center screw which holds the hinge in place on the door and the frame. Drill a hole on one side. On the other side install a long screw leaving a portion just shorter than the hole that you drilled on the other side. Cut off the head of the screw. When you close the door the screw will go into the hole on the other side thereby preventing the door from being pried open.

For personal security each entry door should have a 180 degree door viewer installed or alternatively you should be able to view the door from a nearby window to identify callers before opening the door.

In part 2 of Window and Door Security we will discuss sliding doors.
Send questions to Frank Plunkett at

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Residential Security

Burglary is a problem that many people fear. Companies selling alarm systems often use scare tactics as part of their ads suggesting the burglars target women and children home alone. Although this does happen occasionally, statistically it is a rare occurrence. Most burglaries occur when residents are not at home. Burglars do not wish to encounter homeowners. Those that do break into occupied homes usually have other things on their minds.

Today's message will address the first line of defense that most homeowners have to prevent residential burglary. That line of defense is your perimeter security. Securely locked doors and windows make it more difficult for a burglar to enter your home. Don't rely solely on the locks that came with the home. Often, builders, door and window manufactures, and those that do the actual installations do not have your security in mind. A cursory inspection of your doors and windows can reveal gaps in your security. Often dead bolt locks, essential for security are installed improperly. Lock keepers should have screws that extend into the stud work beyond the door frame. The bolt on the deadbolt should extend at least one inch and the hole that accepts that bolt must be at least as deep as the bolt is long. If the bolt slaps against the inside of the keeper the deadbolt may not engage and a big part of your home security is absent. Window locks are often insufficient and require upgrades. Check with your local police department and see if they provide home security inspections. Some agencies will even do upgrades for Senior Citizens at no cost.

More information on residential security can be found at:

My next entry will address the issues of window locks and security in greater detail.

Frank Plunkett, MCJ
Crime Prevention Consultant

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