Home Security: Protecting Your Family And Your Valuables
By Ralph Winn
According to FBI reports, every ‘15.4’ seconds a home is burglarized in the United States. Burglary is now the most serious threat to a home. Although considered a non-violent property crime because residents are usually not at home, victims of burglary are often left traumatized by the incident.
Thieves are usually looking for small and expensive items that can be sold undetected for cash. Targeted items include: jewelry, guns, laptop computers, cash, DVD and VCR players, and other small electronic products. Burglars continue to prosper because statistics show that police only solve about ‘13%’ of all reported burglaries. As well, the thief is usually long gone by the time the crime has been reported.
Entering Your Home
Home burglaries are most likely to happen during the day when people are at work. Law enforcement statistics reveal that although ‘70%’ of burglars use a certain degree of force when breaking into a home, they prefer homes with the easiest access. They search for an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the most extensive cover, and the best escape route. Their favorite method of entry is an unlocked door or window. Thieves are clever and will roam neighborhoods looking for the best target.
It’s important to be security-aware at all times, even when you are at home.
House Appearance: Thieves will look for signs that your house is empty. Don’t make it obvious that you are away. Methods thieves use to determine if a house is empty include: monitoring a house for activity, overflowing mail boxes, and ringing the doorbell to find out if anyone is home. If someone does answer, they will make up an excuse such as they are looking for someone who lives on the street. Trim trees and shrubs, especially close to windows and doors, which can be used as cover.
Windows: Only one open window will allow thieves to enter and exit quickly. Secure all accessible windows with blocking devices. Make sure a burglar cannot reach inside the window and remove the blocking device. Anti-lift devices will prevent windows from being lifted out. Install alarm systems on windows that can be accessed from the ground.
Doors and Locks: Make your home difficult to enter. A burglar will avoid a home if it takes too much effort to enter. Most burglars enter through the front, back, or garage doors. The garage and back doors also provide the most cover. Use quality locks that are resistant to manipulation and lock-picking. A quality deadbolt lock will stop pliers from breaking lock cylinder pins. Use a door knob lock set that has a mechanism to prevent the lock from being slipped with a credit card.
Sliding-Glass Patio Doors: Sliding glass doors are secured by latches not locks. They can be forced open from the outside because of the flawed latch mechanisms. This can be easily modified by placing a wooden rod in the track to limit movement. Place visible signage on the glass door that points out an alarm system or a dog.
Home Safes: Keeping a safe in your home is a sound investment. Home safes are constructed to keep thieves from accessing important documents and valuables. Home safes need to be solidly secured to the floor. Protect the safe code and occasionally change it.
Keep an Inventory of Valuables: One way to identify your valuables is by engraving your drivers’ license number on them. Photograph and record the serial numbers of all valuables. Store the copies in a safe deposit box. Keep receipts of the larger items in case you need to prove the value of the items for insurance purposes. Make sure your home insurance policy is current and insured for the correct amount at today’s prices.
Lighting: Light-timers are an inexpensive and worthwhile product. Use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains closed. The pattern of lights turning on and off gives the appearance of occupancy. Light timers can be used to turn on radios or television sets to give the appearance of occupancy. Outside lighting is also very important. Lighting on the front of a property should always be on a timer to suggest occupancy. Lighting should also be on a timer to turn on at dusk and off at dawn.
Alarm Systems: Alarm systems deter burglaries because they increase the fear of being caught. Burglars will usually avoid homes with visible alarm signs. Don’t write your alarm code on or near the alarm keypad. Alarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained. All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective. The sound alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after a few minutes. The thief will flee and your neighbors will not be annoyed. It is also highly recommended to install motion-activated sensor lights.
Garden Shed and Garage: Keep them locked. These areas contain valuable tools and usually harbor items thieves can use to break into your home. Always lock the doors between your house and garage.
Exterior Property: Don’t leave items such as expensive toys, bicycles, or lawnmowers on the front lawn. Lock your side gates. Gates allow thieves easy access to the back of your house where it is hidden from the street.
Work with your neighbors: If you hear an alarm, hear breaking glass, or see suspicious activity, don’t approach, call the police. Neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, bills, and periodically inspect home. Ask your neighbors to occasionally park in your driveway. This will give the appearance of occupancy while you are away. Giving a trusted neighbor your keys will make it unnecessary to hide them near the door.
Prevention Makes a World of Difference
At first, it may take a conscious effort, but get in the habit of locking up. It will soon become a normal routine every time you leave and while you are at home. If you have been burgled once, the chance of it happening again is increased. Thieves will often return when you have had sufficient time to replace the items they stole. Take all the precautions to keep them out. If you do come across a burglar in your home, don’t confront them. Call the police. Your life and your family’s life are worth more than any product you own. Adopting safe security methods is the key to achieving a worry-free and happy life for you and your family.
About the Author: Ralph Winn. 35 years in the Security System industry. Home Security and Alarm Monitoring tips.
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