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Take extra steps to protect property from burglars
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I have, in previous writings, urged readers to take extra precautions to protect their jewelry, firearms and other smaller valuables from theft. This is owing to the increase in burglaries from homes, businesses and vehicles. My advisory was to take jewelry, valuable coins, and other collectibles to a safe deposit box or to place these items into a high quality safe. Firearms, of course, also require extra precautions. I will say more about this later.

Also keep in mind that blank checks, deposit slips, vehicle titles financial and other documents that can be used by criminals to access your financial assets should be protected from theft. Again, a safe deposit box is probably the best form of security, but a safe that is fire resistant and bolted from the inside to concrete or some other very strong material can substantially increase the security of your smaller valuables. Even with the extraordinary security measures, given enough time, criminals can get at what they want. I know of cases where trucks have been used to rip safes from their moorings and hauled away by criminals, and there are safe "crackers" and other persons willing to stop at nothing to take your things. And now because we have a weakened criminal justice system (thanks to what the state has done with realignment), criminals have less fear of going to jail and many of them now feel free to take full advantage of this debacle.

Firearms require special consideration. First, let me be clear that I support the rights of persons otherwise not prohibited from owning firearms for hunting, target shooting, self-protection or simply as collectibles. But keep in mind that owing any firearms brings with it great responsibility and the increased potential for your homes to be burglarized. In terms of your responsibilities, each firearm owner is required to keep the firearm secured from children (in particular) when not in use. I think there is also the prospect for increased civil and criminal liability if your [unsecured] firearms are stolen by a criminal and who uses them to commit crimes. This may seem totally unfair, but the trends I see in our society seem to leave increased burdens on law-abiding citizens, and unscrupulous lawyers are likely very enthusiastic to jump on any such opportunities should they exist.

In addition to ensuring that all firearms are properly secured (to include trigger locks), it is important to take photographs of them, to record serial numbers and include the date(s) of acquisition if known and give the list to your insurance company. In terms of the information you give to the insurance company, you might consider doing some research to assign a replacement value to each of them.

With the looming debates on "gun control," those who favor private ownership of firearms will always assert that it is a constitutional right for citizens to own firearms, and that if their rights are taken away, "only the criminals will be in possession of firearms." The arguments are valid and have been the primary reasons that gun ownership opponents have not been entirely successful in completely quashing those rights as asserted. Since the point of gun control is to keep criminals and mentally unstable people from possessing and unlawfully using firearms, then you can see why securing your legally-possessed firearms is critical. In effect, careless storage of firearms may well give gun control-minded politicians the "ammunition" they need to support their position as state and federal legislators consider the issue. Clearly, it is in firearms' owners to take all steps necessary to keep them from falling into the hands of criminals.

The main content of this column focuses on firearms, but I did not intend to lose the broader point that I am making, which is that your valuables, whether firearms, jewelry or the like, are vulnerable in this new situation that we now exist in. Do what is necessary, even if it costs in terms of inconvenience and having to spend money. You really have no choice if you want to keep ownership of your valuable possessions.