Ahead of the summer holidays, Paris area residents are being forewarned to lock up their apartments and be wary of break-ins by organized gangs targeting those leaving on vacation. Message below from the U.S. Embassy Paris. No need to be paranoid, just careful and responsible. Safe travels to those leaving.
U.S. EMBASSY PARIS, FRANCE
July 22, 2010
This Warden Message is being sent to inform U.S. citizens about recent residential break-in trends in France.
During school and national holidays when many residents travel on vacation, well organized burglary rings move into the city. These rings are professional and frequently conduct reconnaissance to develop their list of targets. The Embassy has been advised of individuals claiming to be from a variety of public services (chimney sweepers, painters, garbage men, etc.) using this guise in an attempt to gain access to residences.
The Embassy suggests these simple measures that will significantly decrease your chances of being victimized.
Even when you only leave your apartment for brief periods, always double lock your doors; doing so engages the three-point bolt locks on the door and makes it much more difficult for a thief to break into the apartment. When your door is only single locked, it can take less than 20 seconds to break in.
Leaving a window open and unlocked is an invitation for a thief, no matter what floor you live on. Please lock your windows or use your shutters when you are not in the room.
Vary the times that you arrive and depart your residence. Being predictable increases your chances of being targeted.
Small, inexpensive timing devises are advised, especially during periods of time when you will be away from your residence. You can use them on lights, radios, and televisions to create the image that you are at home.
CONTROL YOUR KEYS
Limit the number of keys you have; distribute them only to family members and fully trusted friends and be sure that the keys are fully accounted for.
DO NOT LET UNINVITED/UNEXPECTED PEOPLE INTO YOU HOME
If you have not been informed that a visit will occur, do not open the door. If the embassy or a utility company is sending someone, they will notify you either by phone or posted notice in your building. Thieves often use this scheme to “case” your apartment. The best defense is simply not to permit any unexpected visitor into the apartment.
Always be aware of your surroundings. What’s “normal” for your neighborhood? What’s not?
If you keep valuables in your apartment, hide them in unusual places. Burglars move very quickly and do not normally spend a great deal of time searching for valuables; they take what is immediately available and flee. The first places a thief will search will be in bedrooms under the mattress, on upper closet shelves, in drawers, and in common spaces such as hallways and living rooms where valuables are left in plain sight. We also recommend that you record the serial numbers of laptop computers, MP3 players and other valuable electronics, as these are highly prized by burglars. Having model and serial numbers could assist the police in returning your property if recovered. As always, you should have your valuables insured.
More travel safety advice is available at www.travel.state.gov.
The U.S. Embassy in Paris can be reached at 01-43-12-22-22 during regular hours and for after-hours emergencies. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where current Country Specific Information, Travel Warning, and Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution can be found.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada; or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
U.S. citizens living or traveling in France or Monaco are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within France and Monaco. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in cases of emergency.
United States Embassy
American Citizen Services Unit
4, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
Telephone in France: 01 43 12 22 22
Telephone from U.S.: (011 33) 1 43 12 22 22