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We've published a couple of stories in recent days about a concerning spree of home burglaries in Washington County. These break-ins have been brazen, the thief or thieves damaging homes and stealing guns among other valuables.

Years ago, when writing about an increase in burglaries in the region, I decided to reach out to a guy I had talked to a few times who I knew had picked up a few burglary arrests during his younger years. I asked him what he looked for when deciding whether to break into a home, and he had some interesting answers.

* He said that dogs were the biggest deterrent, and that even the little yappy ankle-biter types would keep him from trying to get in a home. They may not have much bite, but they bark and attract attention. A "beware of dog" sign was enough to get him to move on.

* Unlocked doors were pretty much an invitation in. It should go without saying, but you have to lock your doors, preferably with a good dead bolt.

* Alarm systems also kept him away, and all it took was a sign or sticker indicating that there was an alarm system to deter him.

* Burglars are generally looking to get in and out pretty quick, in case someone comes home, so hiding or locking valuables is always recommended. Casing homes usually involved peering in windows, and if a purse, jewelry or jug of coins was visible, a quick score could be had.

That interview was long before the advent of small, cheap surveillance cameras, and police also recommend setting up one or two of them outside and/or inside your home to help in the event there is a burglary, with video sent to the "cloud" for recovery if the camera is stolen or damaged.

Secure guns in a gun safe, or make sure there are trigger locks, not just for the possibility of theft. A gun with a trigger lock on it is not worth much to a thief.

Hopefully the police figure out who is behind all of these break-ins around Washington and Rensselaer counties, as I know it has a lot of people on edge. But there are ways to lessen your chance of becoming a victim.

-- Don Lehman

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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