Some Words of Advice on Home Security
Every 13 seconds, a burglar breaks into a home in the United States and steals an average $2,119 worth of property. (Source) If your home is burgled, the financial losses you’ll sustain are bad enough. The trauma and unease in its aftermath, however, is a bell that can’t be unrung, and many burglary victims never again feel safe in their own homes.
It happened more than 2 million times in 2009, and most if not all of those victims thought their home was pretty secure [source: FBI]. They had locks, lights, neighbors and the occasional dog, and alarm system. So how’d it happen? The alarming fact is, it’s actually not that hard to get into most homes.
Most homes have weak points, and seasoned thieves are pretty good at finding them. Some weak points are obvious: an open door, a tree house within stepping distance from an upstairs window, a ground-floor window left open on a hot summer night. Most people are more careful than that, yet burglary is still relatively commonplace. The weak points that lead to most burglaries are somewhat more hidden, though easy to fix. It means making a few changes and additions to create a less appealing target. In this article, we’ll check out a few fixes.
Let’s start with one of the most common security additions, the alarm system. Alarm companies portray their product as an impenetrable force field that takes the uncertainty out of home security. In fact, it doesn’t really stop anyone from breaking in. The thing about alarms, though, is that the blaring happens after the fact. Somebody has already broken in, has probably already taken whatever small valuables were closest to the door and has gotten away by the time the alarm company alerts police and the cops arrive.
If you want an alarm to really protect, the thugs need to know it’s there before they target you. That means displaying that unsightly notice with the alarm company’s name on it and displaying it prominently, outside the house.
Up next: Some things are better left unsaid, like our holiday plans
It seems harmless enough: updates to our Facebook status to let our friends know we’ve arrived in Paris, Tweets of our intention to meet up for coffee, real-time posts of photos of our road-trip. We like to share. The problem is, we can’t be entirely sure with whom we’re sharing. So keep your whereabouts off the social networks.
Up next: For real, for real, everybody knows about the doormat. Once upon a time, the doormat might have been a fine place to hide a key (NOT!). And, it’s even possible that fake rocks were secure when the first 1,000 people tucked their keys inside and tossed them in the dirt. And, for some, the door frame is still an ideal place to stash a key, if your burglar is the height of a grade-school student. It’s best to change this practice. When you hide your house key in an obvious place, you may be reducing your inconvenience in case you lock yourself out or need a friend to drop over when you’re away, but you’re increasing the chance you’ll find yourself in the much more inconvenient position of being robbed or put in harm’s way. It’s best not to have an extra key anywhere on your property. Far safer than leaving a key where it can be found, is having a locksmith install a key-less deadbolt.
Up next: It’s all about the lighting
The very first lesson on the very first day of burglary school is: Don’t get caught. The first step to avoiding capture is avoiding detection (if they can’t see you, they can’t call the cops).
While lots of burglaries take place during the day, darkness is still a great cover. When looking to make your house less of a target, one of the best fixes is lighting, both outdoor and indoor. It’s partly about minimizing the appearance of vacancy inside the house (which burglars look for), and partly about shedding light on would-be intruders outside the house. Inside: set your lights on timers so would-be thieves have a harder time telling if you’re on vacation or just working late. Outside: it’s all about visibility. The area immediately outside your home is the first line of defense. Lights should be placed at strategic points such as entries and pathways. Any hiding spots, like clusters of trees or freestanding structures, should also be well-lit.
Up next: The last line of defense… If a thief makes it past your lighting without being deterred, you pretty much have one last shot to stop the break-in — at the point of entry. That’s typically a door or window. For windows, locks are crucial, and burglar-proof glass is a possible upgrade.
- The door should be either solid wood or metal, so it holds.
- The strike plate should be the heavy-duty kind, secured with four, long(3-inch) screws.
- The lock should be a deadbolt or a knob-in-lock set with a deadlatch.because a burglar can gain entry either by kicking in the door or disabling the lock, so you want to address both of those possibilities. Doors and locks aren’t a place to go cheap. Even if the thief learns on Facebook that you’re in Paris, ignores the alarm sign in your yard and makes it to your door without being seen, a sturdy lock and a burly door can still keep him on the outside and keep you and your loved one safe from intrusion.