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Protecting Your Home from Intruders

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program defines burglary as the unlawful entry of a residence or structure (garage or shed) by an individual or group of individuals, whose intention in most cases is to commit a felony or theft. As long as the person who entered the property had no legal right to be present in the property, a burglary can be already established.

Image source: Burglary Lawyer

FBI statistics show that the estimated number of burglaries in 2015 accounted for 19.8 percent of the calculated number of property crimes. Burglaries of residential properties made up the 71.6 percent of all burglary offenses. These figures enough justify the need for homes to be better protected, especially if they are located in high-risk areas.

Burglary can be classified into four types:

  1. Completed burglary. A successful unlawful entry achieved with or without force
  2. Forcible entry. A successful burglary in which force is used to gain entry to a property.
  3. Unlawful entry without force. A form of completed burglary in which no force is used.
  4. Attempted forcible entry. Force is used in an attempt to enter a structure.

There are initial steps that a homeowner can take to prevent burglary:

  • Install an alarm system. Consider asking your provider to deliver a fast response time or to automatically notify the police once an alarm event occurs.
  • Install security cameras. Outdoor security cameras with night vision are recommended and a hard drive that can record a few days worth of video.
  • Invest in strong window and door locks.
  • Leave the lights on especially if you plan on going on a vacation for long periods of time.
  • Protect your valuables by placing them in safety vaults.
  • Households who own dogs are less likely to attract burglars. Keep in mind though, that owning dogs should not be solely due to guarding against burglary.
  • Ensure that your mails and other deliveries are properly monitored and kept away from the prying eyes of burglars.

Finally, you may also opt to purchase a burglary or crime insurance, which covers the property against loss or damage in the event of a house break. You may want to keep a documented list of your personal and valuable belongings as insurance companies usually require documented proof of ownership to avoid possible fraudulent claims.

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Alabama Boating Laws and Regulations: An Overview

In Alabama and several other US states, any individual aged 12 and older who intends to operate a motorized boat needs to seek education. Those who are between 12 and 13 years need to be supervised by another person who is at least 21 years of age and capable of taking immediate control of the boat if necessary. Do note that completing a boating course is different from actually having a boating license.

Operators who meet any of the following criteria need not get a boating certification:

  • With a legal US Coast Guard Motorboat Operator’s License
  • Successfully accomplished a safe boating course approved by the ALEA Marine Police Division or a similar course offered by US Power Squadrons or the US Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • Aged 40 years or older as of April 28, 1994.

You need to register a boat within 72 hours after its purchase. Most powered watercraft (sailboats, mechanically propelled vessels, rental boats) must be registered in Alabama, except for the following:

  • Non-motorized boats
  • Boat trailers
  • Are registered and kept in another state (Note: Boats are allowed to operate for 90 days or less.)
  • With temporary certificates of number
  • Registered in another country and just temporarily operating in Alabama
  • A ship’s lifeboats
  • Owned by a government entity/agency
  • Have a commercial documentation with the US Coast Guard

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) also provides boat certification to ensure adherence to the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) standards. Around 90% of boats are built to ABYC Standards.

A boat safety course is usually taken by operators to save on their personal watercraft (PWC) or boat insurance. Insurance companies acknowledge the less likelihood of filing a claim for those who have taken the effort to commit to safety education and thus are open to lowering boat insurance rates. To guarantee the best possible premiums, consult with your insurance agent first before signing up.

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao