Peoria Police and city leaders offer home security tips after recent home invasions

By WEEK Reporter

October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 9:28 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Police are forming an home invasion investigative team after another Peoria couple was held at gunpoint in a less than a month's time.

While police said there is no need for panic, they are reminding residents to take precautions.

"I can't imagine what it's like to wake up in the middle of the night and be confronted with multiple armed suspects," said Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard.

That is what happened to Jeffrey and Susan Mckenna at their home in the 6600 block of Greenwich Place. Three masked men broke in, bound them and took their valuables. Now police are reminding residents to think twice.

"This is a call for a good healthy dose of self awareness and caution and taking inventory and stock of the security around your home," Settingsgaard said.

Neighbors in the Chadwick Estates subdivision are now taking extra precaution.

"We're concerned," said neighbor Rick Cieker. "Now we are going to use our alarm system."

Oberlander Alarm Systems has been protecting Peoria homes since 1956. Consultant Jeff Embry said that having a home security system will scare off robbers up to 80 percent of the time.

"When they see that signs outside, they know there's a possibility they'll have this system," Embry said. "So they're less likely to attempt a break-in."

Embry said the company has seen a significant increase in residents asking for home security services.

"People tend to be reactive rather than proactive," Embry said. "Security may have been on the back of their minds for a while, but then they say, 'Well we live in a really nice neighborhood, so it probably won't happen to us.' "

Police suggested that there are other ways to protect your home and neighborhood free of cost. Being active about reporting suspicious behavior is the first step.

"There is a difference between being paranoid and being vigilant," said Peoria Police Captain Mike Eddlemon. "You can't assume things won't happen in your area."

Neighborhood Development Specialist Steve Fairbanks said there are 70 neighborhood watch programs in Peoria.

"The neighborhood watch programs are only as effective as the neighbors participating," Fairbanks said.

He said that the neighborhood watch signs outside of houses may scare intruders, but actively reporting suspicious behavior helps even more.

He also suggested certain practices that you can start doing any time such as keeping your porch lights on, limiting the shrubbery around windows, locking your garage door at all times of the day and getting to know your neighbors.