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The Usual Burglaries The majority of burglaries committed in Turkey are unplanned and disorganized. Burglars rely on lax security and look for the easiest target with the least risk. They make sure nobody is home through some method which can be easily explained away, such as knocking on a door with a pretext question or walking around the house to see if they are challenged, as they look for an easy entry point. If they find they're able to walk through an unlocked door or climb through an insecure window, speed is essential. so they take what is left on tables and dressers or stored in the usual drawers. Even the most basic security measures could stop these burglaries. Just hiding valuables in a place one would not normally expect them to be can prevent their loss. The usual burglaries are committed during the day, when the resident has gone out for a short time. Victims can be especially complacent ıf their town is known for having a low crime rate. Burglaries During Local Events Well-advertised events, such as concerts, assure would-be burglars that a lot of people aren't going to be home at a certain time. In Çeşme, a mostly crime-free resort area, teams of burglars came from out of town to find unoccupied homes during the well-advertised concert of a famous European singer. Thankfully, the burglars were caught and most of the property returned. Swarms Although rare, a swarm involves three or more people (in a recent case all women) who knock on a door, then get inside. While one or two of the group keep the homeowner distracted, the other(s) roam around grabbing what they can. Then they leave as quickly as they came. Doors Doors are the primary entry point for burglars, especially when they are unlocked or left open. Most houses and apartments in larger towns in cities come with a Çelik Kapısı (cheh-leek kah-puh-suh) or steel door, which is fitted with a regular lock, separate from the handle. These also lock with a bolt at three different points in its steel frame by a turn the knob one to three times for three different depths. They are quite secure, and without a locksmith, it would take several hours (and cause a lot of noise) to get through one when it is completely locked. Steel doors also come with a "spy hole" or "peep hole" so you can see who is on the other side of the door before you open it. If you don't have a steel door, have one installed. Make sure that it also has a steel frame, and that the frame is at least as strong as the door. Door Cages Consider installing a door cage. These are made of decorative steel bars, and lock with a key, so you can open your main door without letting a person on the other side enter. They can also pass things to you between the bars. Spy Holes Have a door with a spy hole so you can see who is on the other side before you open it. Talk to the person through the door rather than opening it to someone you don't know. Door Chains Make sure your door chain is a high-quality steel chain, with a sturdy attachment to the door frame. It should only be used as a secondary means to address someone on the other side of the door if you don't have a locked door cage. The Back Door Back doors can be more vulnerable to break ins because a burglar can work out of the view of neighbors or passers-by on the street. Back doors should be as sturdy and have the same security features as the front door. Doors with Windows Some back doors (and front doors) have window panes which can be broken if the door is locked. Replace any standard single panes with double-glazed laminated glass. These windows have two panes which are bonded together with a laminate, making them stronger and harder to break. Instead of having a deadbolt lock with a knob on the inside, which a burglar can access by reaching through a broken window, have a lock with a key on both sides. Sliding Balcony or Patio Doors Sliding doors are attractive to burglars, because many of them only have a single, flimsy latch which locks to the frame. On upper balconies, sliding doors are often left open, an invitation to burglars. When poorly-secured sliding doors are closed and locked, a burglar can pry and force the door open, or use a lever to lift the door from the bottom so the latch releases from the hole in the frame. They can also lift the door off its track and remove the door entirely. You can stop the door from being lifted by screwing a thin, flat piece of wood into the inside of the top track. This will take up any excess space and prevent the door from being lifted. Sliding doors should always have locks which are separate from the latch, and which secure the door to the frame on the top and bottom with a key. Have these types of locks installed if they aren't already. At minimum, a good way to prevent a sliding door from being opened is to drill a hole through both door frames, at the bottom, and insert a bolt through the hole in both doors. Even if a burglar is able to defeat the standard latch, he will not be able to slide it open if the bolt is in place, unless he smashes the glass, which would attract attention. Note: When a door locks with a key on both sides, you can keep the key in the lock when you are at home. But when you are out, put the key in an in a nearby, easily-accessible place, always in the same place, but out of reach of anyone who could reach through a broken window or use a rod to retrieve it. This way, if the key isn't in the lock and you need to get out quickly because of a fire or other emergency, the key will be near the door and you will always know where it is. This is especially important with door cages, since they should not have the key left in them at any time. Don't hide an extra key under a door mat, flower pot, or rock in the garden. Have a trusted friend keep your key for you. Windows Windows are a secondary entry and exit point for burglars, or a primary point when unlocked or open. Windows should be laminated and double-glazed. Wooden single-frame windows are the least secure, and should be replaced. Window locks should fasten the window to the frame by means of bolts, at least three of them. The locking mechanism should be separate from the handle and lock the window itself, not just the handle. It is best to buy windows with these locks already installed, since the necessary drilling and fitting may weaken the frame and void the warranty of the window. Window locks should lock with a key, not just a knob, and the key should not be left in the lock. To leave a window partly open, but still secure, buy a window which has a sliding lock, or buy one and have it installed. Lighting Lighting should be used to augment, not replace, other security measures. Lights can be used to illuminate entry points and to make your house look occupied. You can get security lights which have motion-detection capability, which can be adjusted both for the scope of the area they sense, as well as their sensitivity. Sudden, unexpected illumination will sometimes scare off a burglar before he tries to enter, and also deny him the darkness he needs to do his work. If you are out, leave a light on in a sitting room with the curtains closed. Don't use a hallway light. If a hallway light is on for hours, it is rather obvious that nobody is living in the hallway. Get light timers which will turn interior lights on and off at random, or at certain times. Timers can also be used for the radio or TV. Again, these are merely methods to augment an overall security plan, since a burglar can also knock on your door with a pretext, to find out if anyone is home. Apartment Security The front door of your apartment building should have an intercom system so you can verify the identity of someone wanting to enter the building, and an electric lock that you can open remotely by pressing a button. It should have an automatic door closer, which closes the door completely and locks it automatically, as well as a manual means to open the door from the inside in case of a power outage. The building front door should never be wedged open. Don't open the building front door until you verify who it is. Just because you are expecting a delivery, or a guest, doesn't mean they are the ones who rung the bell. Unfortunately, the building's front door is only as secure as the least security-conscious occupant of the building. Lower Floors If your apartment is on the lower floors, the security precautions covered earlier in this article apply. Climbing Burglars Burglars sometimes use trees, drain pipes, ladders, and even the security bars on lower apartment balconies to climb to the apartments on higher floors. A prime target is a balcony door which is left open and is easily seen from the street. Many a morning has seen a group of people gazing up at a second, third, or fourth-floor apartment, scratching their heads and asking themselves "how did he get up there?" Besides a securely-locked balcony door, putting a motion-sensing light on your balcony can be an effective deterrent to this type of burglary. Top-floor Burglaries Top floors are sometimes targeted because only a few people in an apartment building ever go there. By watching the elevator's floor indicator, burglars can know when someone is coming. If the elevator doesn't stop its ascent and is about to come to the floor they're on, they can run down the stairs. In this case, your front door is your only defense. Make sure that you have a high-quality steel door, and that all of its locks are locked, including the deadbolt. A completely locked steel door takes hours to get through, and the work involved to do so makes plenty of noise. Newspapers, Mail, and Fliers Have someone come by every day or so to pick up newspapers, mail, and fliers which are left at your door. Even if you don't subscribe to a newspaper or get much mail, a few unsolicited fliers stuck in your door which have been there for several days is a sure sign that nobody is home. Garden Security Make sure your house is visible from the street and that vegetation doesn't provide hiding places. Lock up ladders either by storing them inside or with a chain and lock. Don't leave tools laying around which could be used by a burglar. Lock up bicycles and maintenance equipment in the garage or in the house, or chain them up to a secure post. Alarms An alarm system can significantly reduce the chances of a burglary, and various types of systems are widely available in Turkey. You can get an alarm system which simply makes a loud noise at most any do-it-yourself store. More sophisticated alarm systems, which are are monitored by security professionals who call the police when an alarm activates are available from local security firms. Property Marking and Photography Marking your property makes it more difficult to fence, as well as providing police a way to return recovered property to you. Engrave your most valuable items with your name and a number so you can show that it belongs to you. Record serial numbers of expensive electronics, and photograph valuables to make it easy for police to know if any recovered property is yours. Mobile Phones You can shut down your mobile phone if you have recorded it's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. For more information on this, see the article on lost or stolen mobile phones. Learn Security Consciousness Even if you have the highest level of security devices available in your home, they are completely ineffective if you don't use them. Get in the habit of closing and locking doors and windows even when you are at home, for example, hosting a barbecue or swimming in the pool. At minimum, learn the habit of locking doors and windows when you go out, even if it's only for a short time, until it becomes second-nature. Brief family and visitors who are staying with you about security precautions they should take. See Also Crime, Safety, and Terrorism in Turkey Forum: Please visit an join our forum to post questions or comments about this topic. Ken Grubb As a special investigator for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and teacher for the University of Maryland, Ken Grubb has lived and worked in Turkey since 1997. He now lives in Antalya, where he researches and writes guides to help others live skillfully in Turkey.