Watching the news, homeowners can get the feeling there are a lot of people out there looking to snatch their stuff.
Unfortunately, it’s true. There are unscrupulous, opportunistic folks out there looking to take advantage of the trusting and unprepared.
The most effective weapons against burglary are simple: Looking out for your neighbors, and taking steps to make burglars uncomfortable doing what they do – trying to sneak in and out, quickly and quietly.
Nowhere to hide
You don’t have to put up a 10-foot high electric fence or dig a moat.
The first thing to do is to start reducing the amount of places around your home a burglar might hide, a lot of which comes down to increasing lighting and visibility. Ask yourself this question. Does your porch or landscaping offer concealment from you, your neighbors, the street or other public areas?
Trimming away vegetation from windows and illuminating areas where shadows fall are two of the best ways to help prevent property crime. No self-respecting burglar wants to be seen preparing for, – or committing – his or her dastardly deeds.
Homeowners should also make sure each exterior entrance is illuminated with at least a 40-watt bulb. It’s always a good measure to use motion-detecting lights all around the property, or have lights that turn on and off automatically with timers or photoelectric cells.
You can’t be home 24-7, so it’s important to maintain good communications with your neighbors. A mutual agreement to keep a lookout for suspicious activity or persons around your homes is probably the best security measure a neighborhood can have. Neighbors should be able to see clearly who is going in and out.
It’s a lock
Making it difficult and inconvenient for a burglar to get inside your home is the next step. Criminals don’t want to be seen, don’t want to be heard and certainly don’t want to take a lot of time.
A home security inspection should start at the front door, and include an assessment of all doors, windows and locks.
All exterior doors should be equipped with single cylinder deadbolts, and hinges should be protected from removal from the outside. Any screen doors or storm doors should also have adequate locks as a further deterrent.
All windows too, should lock from the inside. Window screens should be maintained in good condition to make sure any attempt to cut them or remove them is obvious – even to an untrained eye.
Make sure you know everyone who has a key to your residence, especially if you’ve had keys and locks replaced. You never know when one got missed.
Sliding doors should have a regular lock plus a locking bar to further prevent opening from the outside when the lock is not secured.
Basement entrances are sometimes overlooked, but should be visible, well-lit and adequately secured.
Last, but not least, is the garage. All exterior garage doors should be locked and closed when not in use. Automatic garage doors should have a locking feature. Garage door openers should never be left in unattended vehicles, and vehicles, even if parked int he garage, should be locked with no valuables or keys left inside.
Any door from the garage to living quarters should be outfitted with the same security measures as an exterior door – with a single cylinder deadbolt as well as a standard key lock. Burglars have been known to slip into the garage when it opens, then wait inside until the coast is clear.
Make your mark
If you’ve done enough prevention and planning, you should have no intruders make it inside the home, but if it somehow happens, the next step is minimizing losses, and aiding law enforcement in finding stolen property.
Keep valuables, a home inventory list and as much of your cash as possible in a bank, not at home.
Engrave all the property you do have at home with your driver’s license number including the state.
Keep a list of serial numbers for watches, cameras, computers, TVs, stereos and other electronics with serial numbers. Keep descriptions of items that don’t have serial numbers. Don’t ever make unnecessary display of valuable items, whether through your home windows or in your automobile.
If you discover a burglary has already been committed, leave immediately. Leave the house undisturbed and call the police. Never confront a burglar or interrupt a burglary in progress.
Many residential areas have taken the next step in protection with organized “Neighborhood Watch” programs.
Developed to address an increasing number of burglaries, Neighborhood Watch programs go back to colonial times, where volunteer watchmen would patrol their neighborhoods at night.
Revived in the 1970s as a law enforcement effort to involve citizens, these organizations concentrate on keeping eyes and ears open, maintaining a visible presence and relaying information to local police.
If your neighborhood doesn’t have a Watch program, call local police for help, or consider linking with an existing organization, such as a citizen’s association, community development office, tenants’ association or housing authority. They may be able to provide an existing infrastructure.
Canvass door-to-door to recruit members, and ask people who seldom leave their homes to be “window watchers,” looking out for children and reporting any unusual activities.
Physical conditions like abandoned cars or overgrown vacant lots contribute to crime. Sponsor cleanups, encourage residents to beautify the area, and ask them to turn on outdoor lights at night.
Watch groups are not vigilantes and should not assume the role of the police. Their duty is to ask neighbors to be alert, observant, and caring – and to report suspicious activity or crimes immediately to the police.
These simple tips will help you feel secure in your home by making you a less attractive victim.
If you would like professional advice and assistance in a thorough home security inspection contact your local crime prevention program.
To keep your guard, take a critical look at your home security every three to four months. Don’t become lax – crime prevention is a continuous process.