CrimeTracker 10: Convicted Burglar Helps Police Outline 5 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Home

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UPDATED: Monday July 7, 2014 11:47 PM

You hear it all the time - lock your doors, lock your windows, lock your car.

If you don’t heed the warnings, you may become a victim. That’s the message from someone already behind bars.

Columbus Police are using the criminals they catch for intelligence on the crimes they commit.

“These are the people who actually COMMITTED the burglaries. That’s why we're here,” said Commander Bob Meader of Columbus Police Crimes Bureau, who is spearheading a new project for CPD's You Tube Channel.

One of the criminals who volunteered is Joel Hamlin, inmate 527257. He's serving time at Marion Correctional for breaking into a home in 2006 while the homeowner was upstairs.

Hamlin tells CrimeTracker 10 he has spent more than half of his life in and out of a jail cell for breaking into hundreds of homes and cars since he was a young teenager.

“If you’re knocking and a dog starts barking, we’re moving to the next place,” says Hamlin.

It’s just one of the few things Hamlin says will stop a burglar ;like him from entering your home. His experience has shown, homeowners often make the same several mistakes - over and over again.

It starts with relying on an alarm sticker for a system that you don’t have.

“We're going to get in still, because we know that's fake. You can see wires where it's wired up for sound,” added Hamlin. “But when you go and open the door, and back off and wait, and No alarm goes off. No one ever came, then you can go on in."

The second mistake starts in the garage. Hamlin says that’s where criminals look for you to leave items in your car like purses and keys.

“I'd go in there, get your car, your purse, the keys. I'd go open the back door up (while) you're asleep, while you're there, walk right in, steal whatever while you're asleep,” explains Hamlin.

It's a frightening thought. That’s why Commander Meader says his team spent months interviewing several convicted burglars at Ohio prisons in Marion and Chillicothe with the help of the Prison News Network, an inmate-run video production service that broadcasts on closed-circuit television.

“This time, we're actually going to be able to see how many people are actually watching the video", says Meader about the benefit of showing CPD's video project on YouTube. "And the nice thing is that this is for the city of Columbus but this will work in any jurisdiction on the world wide web."

There are three other mistakes burglars like Hamlin say homeowners make.
They include leaving your valuables in plain sight which tells them there's more to take inside.

Another mistake is thinking a loud television left on while you are away will deter criminals.

“If no one is there, we knock, no one answers - you just go on in,” said Hamlin.

The biggest mistake of all, says Hamlin, is leaving doors unlocked. It's something Hamlin says he sees often.

“Does it surprise you that as you checked some of these homes, that the front door was unlocked?” asked Angela An.

“Yeah, it really surprises me. It don't surprise me now because I'm so used to it, but at first, I was like - wow, this is open?” said Hamlin.

Hamlin not only provides tips on what not to do… he also told police what would work to stop a home burglary.

It’s noise. If burglars feel they have to make too much noise to get into a home, it may scare them off.

“That's true. We want to be as quiet as we can, we don't want to draw no attention to us if we're doing it."

Columbus police say they hope this information will have you taking simple steps now to protect you and your family later.

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