Crime can occur to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Depending on your age, lifestyle, neighborhood, and other factors, you may be more or less at risk of being a victim of a crime. But there are steps that you can take to minimize your risk. And some of them are quite easy.
Home is a place where one should feel safe, so let’s talk about how to protect your home, make it less appealing to thieves, and keep the bad guys away.
Keeping it Locked Up
Access control is your first line of defense. Solid front door with a deadbolt. Deadbolts are great, but they have to be installed properly to work effectively. Long screws installed through the receiver portion of the frame and the receiving hole has to be deep enough to extend the bolt all the way (or it is not really locked). Hinges on the inside, etc. A locking security door on the outside of the front door is a nice option if you want to talk to strangers that knock.
A fenced yard with locking gates help maintain boundaries with outsiders. For a sliding door, you should have something additional to the door latch, even if it is just a board or pipe in the track. Window locks may be needed depending on the type of windows that you have.
Lock Quality and Types
Typically, the most common brands, Schlage and Kwikset are good enough for most applications. Commercial applications are often upgraded to Medeco locks, which are virtually unpickable. Lock picking is not the way most common thieves go. It is a skill that takes time and would be reserved for situations when the entrance needs to go undetected and leave no trace. Common thieves don’t worry about what kind of mess they leave, only about being quick, quiet, and unseen. Different types of locks are required for different types of access points. A door with a window (or with a window next to it) will need a different type of lock than a solid door.
Outdoor Lighting and Landscaping
Much like cockroaches, thieves are terrified of detection and avoid lighted areas. Having the outside of your home well lit and clear of debris and unnecessary brush, except maybe some thorny rosebushes under some windows, makes things very uncomfortable for your typical burglar. Motion sensor lights offer them an additional surprise. Landscaping like trees, walls, and large rocks or concrete structures can be security features as well.
Buy a Home Security System
Home security alarm systems make for an excellent deterrent to potential robbers. Probably considered the number one option. I will go into much greater detail on home security systems in an upcoming article, probably several, but if you are in the market, start considering which options are important to you as there are many points to consider.
Up front costs vs. long term contract, DIY vs. professional installation, DIY vs. professional monitoring, customer service and support, wired vs. wireless, app access and home automation features and camera options.
Install Security Cameras
Thieves do not like to be famous. Most of the home security alarm companies also have camera options available. I am creating a separate article for cameras as well. There are many options to consider for them as well.
Indoor/Outdoor, Multiple Channel, DVR, App Access, Wireless, HD, Night Vision, Motion Detection/ Sound Detection, Zoom, Pan, Tilt, Audio, DIY vs professional installation
Get a Dog
Personally, this is my favorite, but it is definitely not for everyone. Dogs are quite needy. Much more so than cats. They need food, water, training, exercise and love. But burglars are usually scared of dogs, even small ones, probably because they are noisy. We have a large dog with a very beefy bark.
Some simple things
Shut your curtains at night, leave some lights on, maybe a radio. Don’t let mail or newspapers stack up in your driveway or doorway when you are away. Maybe don’t post that you are going on vacation out of town on social media.
So you don’t have a security system, anyone can still post a sign on your window that indicates that you do have one. So what if you don’t have a dog, you can still have a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign. I used to have my daughter keep a pull tab personal alarm attached to her backpack in case she felt in danger. It was loud as hell. Feel free to get creative.
If you want to see how real thieves think, there are 80 episodes of To Catch a Thief TV show on Discovery.com. A reality show where an ex con is challenged to break into various houses. It is highly informative when it comes to how break-ins are planned and executed and how to avoid being a victim.