The Season, for Home Burglaries and House Fires - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

The Season, for Home Burglaries and House Fires

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If you don't know the alarming statistics already, south Reno Home Depot's Jason Draper was there to tell us: "25% of our home burglaries occur during the next month."

He's right. According to FBI, a full quarter, or about 500,000 in the U.S., forced entry home burglaries happen from Thanksgiving to New Year's. Burglars are now casing homes for expensive gifts bought for Christmas. The shorter days allow them to work more in the dark, and families travel during the holidays for empty homes.

Here in Reno, Draper told us that too many learn the hard way. "On a daily basis, we get customers who come in here who either need a new door because somebody broke it down, or a new window because somebody broke in through it." Yes, every day in that one store.

With a simple twist of your door's deadbolt, you're safe. Or so you think. What's the biggest surprise to these victims? That a hard kick can open an old lock. You may not know that, but the crooks do. Draper says get a new lock, even if your old one is still working. He says, "Now they're making them so that they can't be picked, so that you can't kick them and break the pins."

He told us most burglars prefer windows to get in, so get a window lock. As he showed us, "They cost less than $3. This one here is $2.65."

And outside lighting means somebody's home. There are new solar ones that never let you down…they work even when the power's out. Draper showed us one that "has a 15-watt bulb that's included in it, but it provides just as much light as a 75 watt regular bulb."

The second danger is fire. Most of them occur now, in late fall and winter. More than 300,000 residential fires a year are reported in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association. There are more candles, Christmas tree fires, holiday cooking and lights and overloaded circuits. The cold weather triggers fires from heating systems, propane heaters and fireplaces.

And…lots of space heaters that are too often the cause of winter home fires. The south Reno Home Depot's Jim Steelman has been in this business for 19 years. He says we've come a long way from the days when space heaters were like a match to a flame. He told us that back then, "If the heater fell over, the heater would still be running because it didn't have a mechanism to shut it off. Then it would heat the carpet up and start a fire." The new portable heaters shut off when tipped over, and carpets are now fire resistant.

And how many times have we all heard about a terrible home fire where the smoke alarm had dead batteries? That may become a problem of the past with what's new on the market: "never replace the battery" smoke alarms we saw on the shelf. Jim told us they're "up to 10 years maintenance free on those. And this one has a voice alarm so it will tell you to get out of your house if there's a fire."

Next Saturday, December 8th, you're invited to the Home Depot in Sparks to learn more about protecting your home. You'll learn how to escape a fire, kids can visit a fire safety workshop, and the first 100 to attend get a free smoke alarm installation. That's next Saturday starting at 11:00am, at the Sparks Home Depot, 4655 Galleria Parkway.

-written by John Potter

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