SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Midwest has a stereotype for being quiet and safe, but over time this idea of South Dakota has become much different than reality.
Sheriff Mike Milstead says crime rates are rising faster than the population is growing in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County.
But there are things you do to prevent being the target of a break in, theft, or vandalism and that doesn’t include calling to install a home security system. DIY security experts recommend starting with things as simple as just locking your doors.
Bruce Danielson is passionate about home security.
“I do data security and this was an off shoot of the data security. It kind of fit in,” he said.
A bad experience is what made him bring his work home with him.
“Starting in about 2010 I started having a lot of vandalism at my house, and some very expensive vandalism, and I had to start finding out what was happening,” he explained.
So he installed cameras.
We set them up at the KSFY studio to see how they work.
The picture shows up clear and can answer a lot of questions.
“Did I get the face right? Did I see the clothes right, did I guess what I thought happened? No. you've got it,” Danielson explained. “Let’s say you've parked your car outside and with all the car break-ins that have been happening, neighborhood vandalisms, you'd actually be able to record somebody with a camera like this, and see somebody messing with your car, breaking the glass slashing your tires.”
Sheriff Mike Milstead encourages people to use cameras on their property.
“Weekly people are identified on those shots. And they're all taken with people who have thought about you know I should maybe add an enhanced level of security,” Sheriff Milstead said.
These cameras can cost anywhere from 50 to more than 200 dollars.
But Milstead says people don't have to spend money to keep their home safe, they can just adjust their landscaping.
“Shrubs and bushes are really nice, but it's a great time of the year to think about trimming those way down, in particular by your windows, so that if someone was standing in front of your window or trying to get into your window, it would be visible from the street,” the Sheriff explained.
And when the sun goes down…
“They like the dark. They like working under the cloak of darkness,” he stated.
Installing a light can be a bright idea.
“It's been proven that lighting on a home does improve safety and does deter crime,” neighborhood watch advocate Theresa Stehly said.
They're not all created equal.
“The best lights are the ones that are sensor lights that would be motion detected, so that they are coming on and off with movement so they're not on all the time,” Stehly explained.
But they work best if people need to see that the light has come on.
When you're not home, neighbors can be a big help.
“When the light goes off at night, a neighbor can be watching, and can be cognizant of whether this is activity that is normal and ok or whether it's something to be suspect of,” Stehly stated.
“We like nosy neighbors in law enforcement. I mean they are our greatest asset as far as eyes and ears out there,” Sheriff Milstead said.
With crime of the rise, Danielson says beefing up his home security has given him peace of mind.
“You can go to sleep at night and if something happens in your yard or at your house you can see it you can sleep a lot better,” he said.
Another tip, take your car keys with you.
Sheriff Milstead says there has been a vehicle break in almost every day this year and every single one of the cars was unlocked with the keys in the car.
Home security also doesn't stop at the street corner, it follows people into cyber space.
Sheriff Milsteaed says what people share online can make them a target for theft.