Feeling Secure or Being Secure
In the world of home security, you can either feel secure or you can be secure. Feeling secure has to do with having locks, securing the keys, maybe having an alarm system. But none of these things by themselves will completely prevent a burglar from entering your home. They will slow them down, but these things alone will only give you that feeling of security everyone wants when they are in their dwelling. They may not actually make and keep you safe.
In the security field, professionals talk about layers of protection. Have you ever watched the personal bodyguards of a dignitary or presidential entourage? There are people positioned next to the dignitary, people in a greater perimeter and people in a greater perimeter still. The circle of protection actually extends out and into the surrounding neighbourhood where sophisticated technologies are scanning and probing the area for weapons, bombs and other devices. So, the person being protected is at the centre of a multilevel designed protection bubble. You have to do the same for your home.
The Criminal Mind
Most people who commit burglary are after some kind of get a rich quick item that will take care of an immediate need they have. They will focus on the homes that are easily broken into and quickly escaped from should the authorities arrive.
It may be interesting for you to know that studies have been conducted surveying those criminals in prison who committed a burglary and data indicates they made their decision as to which house to enter based on the factors of noise, time and visibility.
The primary goal of a burglar is to get into the place as quickly as possible and get away with something as quickly as possible. Anything you can put in place that will add time to these two factors will increase your level of security. If it takes them a long time to get into your home because they have to neutralise a series of locks and electronic technologies, then the more time your neighbours will have to see them and call for help. Don’t disregard the locks you place on your entry doors. Keeping your doors locked and not forgetting lock them will add time to the process for the burglar and increase your chances of stopping their entry.
In addition to their wanting to take the least amount of time to do the deed, burglars look for places where they can work without being heard or visibly noticed. Home security systems that use alarms or protection dogs that are trained to bark when danger is near are not the places they will make their first choice. The noise created during the burglary effort will deter them. Burglars will move on to more quiet and secluded homes rather than risk being discovered.
A front porch light or lights lining your walkway or driveway are one of the best things you can do to make your place more visible to the world. Movement detection devices that turn on spotlights or “running” lights will deter a criminal. Remember that criminals like to work in the dark, away from people and as quietly as possible. If your home is poorly lit and your windows are covered by the limbs of trees, then you are creating the perfect scenario for a burglar.
So, keep the three factors of time, noise and visibility in mind as you live in your home. Take a look at your own dwelling. What are your home’s weaknesses? Where are the areas that need more lights, more locks, and stronger deterrents?
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
When I look outside my home and think about the perimeter, are there places where trees and bushes cover that would assist a burglar to be concealed?
Are there plenty of well-lit spaces outside my home?
Is every opening in the outer shell of my home adequately secured? That is to say, are all windows, crawl spaces and doors locked completely?
If I were to stand on the street and look at my home, what would I see? Is it possible for a passerby to see inside the home and know there is an expensive television or sound system? Do the windows in my home allow people to see expensive artwork? Can someone outside see people moving inside?
Take a serious look at the patterns of your family members. Do the folks you love have routines that can allow a burglar to know when everyone is out of the house and when they will return? If so, then consider changing it up from time to time.
Practical Matters of Security
Home Security System
Install a home security system and install it after consulting with a trusted locksmith and/or security company. Homes that do not have a security system are more likely to be burgled than those without them. Home security systems make noise and that noise seriously inhibits burglaries. The system also automatically dispatches the police and possibly other first responders to your home when activated. Depending on the system you have installed, you may also be able to control your lighting, home appliances, carbon monoxide detection and other factors in your home.
If a home system is financially out of reach right now, go to one of the “big box” stores or get on Amazon and buy a noisemaker. You want to get a device you can place at your doors or windows that will make a loud noise and alert your neighbours that something nefarious is underway. If you just can’t spend any significant money, get some fake security company signs and place them in your yard or near your front door.
Know Your Neighborhood and Your Neighbors
You will want to know how many houses are in your immediate neighbourhood, how secure are they? Are the lawns cut and do the houses looks like people are regularly taking care of the grounds. How likely is it that a burglar will target your area of the city?
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to get to know your neighbours and make friends with them. It will give you a keen sense of peace and well being to know you can simply call up a neighbour and ask them to watch your place while you are away. Remember, if burglars know they are being watched they will most likely just move along to the next house. That neighbour who often takes a walk through the area or that lady who walks her dog could end up being your best deterrent to thievery.
Landscaping and Cleaning
Keeping your grass cut and your hedges/bushes trimmed will send a message to everyone that some lives at this location and is regularly outside doing something. Choose different days of the week and times of the day to cut your grass or do the trimming. Change up the schedule to include working into the early night using your well-placed lights.
Getting a dog that will respond to strangers with at least a bark will add to your protection arsenal. If your dog yelps and barks at the slightest provocation, then all the better. A burglar will hear the dog from afar and decide early on to bypass your home.
Police Your Trash
Don’t throw away credit card receipts or any kind of receipt in your bin. Don’t go out an buy a new expensive appliance and then place its packing container on the sidewalk or near your bins. This is a signal to burglars that expensive items may be found at your location. Cut the cardboard box up and place the pieces inside plastic bags.
Know the People You Allow Into Your Home
If someone knocks on your front door and they want to sell you a new roof or want to give you a home inspection, then ask for some kind of official identification. Don’t allow anyone in your home that you don’t know or trust well. One of the favourite tactics of burglars is to send in an innocent and sincere acting salesperson who is just in your home to “case it” and discover what can be stolen later.
Salespersons, repairmen, general contractors, cleaners and babysitters will enter your home and return later with their colleagues to steal from you. Ask for references and make sure you contact the companies for which they work. Also, if someone unsolicited lands at your door and wants to sell you some tree trimming or yard work of some sort, be aware that while you are outside showing them what you want them to do their cohort may be inside stealing from you. The general rule here is if you did not call a company to come to your house, then don’t answer the door.
Consider doing a background check on anyone entering your home. There are many websites available these days where one simply pays a fee and the check will be run. If you are considering the hiring of a homeworker on a regular basis then consider the use of a fidelity bond. This bond is issued by an insurance company protecting you from any theft committed by that person while in your home.
Secure Your Doors
Make sure all the hinges on your doors are inside. Outside hinges can be taken off rather quickly with the right tools. If you have an older home, check the strike plates at your doors. Older strike plates will give way with little resistance. Replace them with new ones. You might consider installing a security film on the glass you have indoors or windows. This film will hold the glass together when thieves attempt a break in. If you have French doors, the split in the middle is the security issue. There are kits to be purchased that can reinforce these doors. If you have sliding glass doors, then consider the use of a metal rod or wooden dowl placed in the running track to prevent the door from opening.
Always lock your windows and consider the use of security film. Use security bars across your windows. Make sure you use bars that can be released from the inside as any other may prevent you from escaping in the event of a fire in your home. Use shutters and curtains to prevent seeing in and an added measure of protection at the window opening. Consider planting some bushes with thorns directly under your windows. In addition to making it more difficult to a break-in, the bushes may also become evidence collectors as the burglar is escaping. DNA, blood samples and bits of torn clothing have been found in thorny bushes.
Keep your garage door closed and locked. If you are working in the yard all day long and your garage door is open all day, then you are telegraphing the contents of your garage to the neighbourhood. Make sure all access doors to your garage are locked also. If you park your car in the driveway make sure you don’t leave the garage door opener in the car. If your car is unlocked and you go inside the house for any period of time, the burglar simply has to get into your car, activate the garage door opener and steal your possessions.
When you go on a vacation or should you be visiting relatives for a period of time, you will want to have someone looking in on your home from time to time. Ask them to collect the mail, pickup any flyers or papers left on the porch and remove anything left on the door. Burglars like unoccupied homes, so do your best to have someone there. Ask a neighbor or have a friend or relative place trash bins at the normal place and remove them also. This continues a sense of normalcy. Ask someone to fee and walk your dog so you can leave Fido watching the property. Consider putting your inside and outside lights on a timer that will turn lights off during the day and turn them on at night. Leave a television running with the volume up loud enough so anyone can hear it from a door or window. You may consider leaving the A/C. When the compressor turns on, a burglar may hear it and think someone is inside.
Use these tips and your home will be less of a target to those who would seek to steal your possessions or simply violate your personal space by breaking and entering into your most special place, your home.