This e-mail came across the Youngstown Historic Buildings and Home's listserv about protecting vacant property in Youngstown. It is worth your time.
Subject: [YTownHistoricHomesBldgs] Protect your vacant property from scavengers!
The scavengers are at it again on the North Side of Youngstown - BIG time. The Crandall Park neighborhood association is going to resume neighborhood block watch patrols, but here are some things you can do if you own a vacant home ANYWHERE in town and want to be pro-active about protecting it against being stripped by scavengers:
Have ADT install an alarm system with motion and smoke sensors. Motion sensors are more effective than door and window switches at detecting a home intrusion.
Smoke sensors will call the ADT monitoring center (and, therefore, the FIRE department) before there is even an outward indication that a fire has started in the house. If a fire does happen in your vacant property, every moment saved could mean the difference between a damaged home and a destroyed home. With the recent rash of arson fires all over town, your vacant property MAY ALREADY BE a target for the arsonist(s).
For vacant houses without telephone service, ADT has wireless modules that can be added to a basic alarm system so that the alarm box can call for help without a telephone line. Their alarms also have a battery backup that can operate without public power for up to three days. They even offer a "wet basement" sensor that can be tied into the alarm box. The ADT system will notify the monitoring center if either the telephone line or the electric line is cut.
If you are concerned about the cost of an alarm system, just think about what it would cost to replace all of the antique fixtures in one of these old homes at today's prices.
Other measures that can be taken to protect your vacant properties include having LOTS of BRIGHT outside lights around the house and making sure that windows and doors are not obscured by bushes, weeds, etc. DON'T give the scavengers dark corners around your property where they can hide and do their bad deed without being seen from the street.
If you have a spare vehicle, park it in the driveway at your vacant property. Put up curtains in EVERY window. Make it appear as though someone lives in the house - even though it is vacant. Try putting an old portable TV in an upstairs bedroom - on a timer - so that the flickering light from the picture tube can be seen through the curtains at night by passers by. Black and white TV sets are especially good for this ruse.
Keep the grass cut and the yard clean - nothings says "I'm empty, come rob me" to a scavenger more than tall grass and trash laying around.
Let's make it more risky and less inviting for these *&%$! scavengers to do the despicable things that they do! If you have the spare time and want to help make your neighborhood safer - VOLUNTEER for a neighborhood block watch patrol. The Youngstown Police Department needs all the help they can get!
Best Regards to all,