Security Tips Part 1
Is your home easy prey for a burglar? According to a Recent FBI report, a burglary occurs in the United States about every 14 seconds.
The majority of these occur during the day when the occupants are likely to be away and most are committed by males under the age of 25. Cash and items easily turned into cash such as jewelry, guns and electronics are the items most frequently stolen.
While most burglaries are crimes of opportunity; the criminal will typically spend up to 45 minutes evaluating their target. Time and attention are their chief concerns as the longer they spend in the act of gaining entry and the more attention they attract, the more likely they are to be observed and/or caught.
There are steps that you can take to make your home less inviting to the criminal, steps that could convince them to move on and seek an easier, less risky target.
We divided these steps into two groups. The measures listed in this article are those that require very little time and money and yet can substantially reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Steps you can take to improve the security of your home and family:
- Keep doors (including garage doors) and windows locked at all times. A recent study found that 12% of all burglaries occurred through an unlocked door. This simple act could substantially reduce your risk.
- Keep your car locked even when it's in your garage.
- Do not hide spare keys outside above the door, under doormats, in flowerpots, etc, criminals know all these "secret" hiding places.
- Control spare keys. Don't give keys to service personnel, trades people, babysitters, etc.
- When moving into a house or apartment, have the locks re-keyed. Previous residents may still have keys and they may have given spare keys to countless others.
- Install a wide angle Door Viewer on solid entry doors that permits you to see callers and/or their identification before you open the door.
- Do not open your door for strangers or solicitors. Don't be bashful about asking to see identification from utility employees, delivery and service personnel. They are accustomed to the request and have photo ID provided by their employers.
- If a stranger asks to come in to make an emergency phone call don't open your door, ask them to wait outside and offer to make the call for them.
- Call the police if a stranger in the neighborhood acts suspicious and alert neighbors to their presence.
- Get to know your neighbors; good neighbors will keep watch on each other's homes and summon authorities in the event of suspicious activities and in emergencies.
- Keep a list of emergency phone numbers near each phone to save time if you need to summon help.
- Use curtains or blinds on windows and close them at night.
- Keep expensive items away from your windows.
- Trim shrubs and bushes so they don't obscure doors and windows and provide cover for someone in the process of breaking in.
- Don't leave tools, ladders, etc outside your home; lock them up so you don't provide the means to break in.
- Patio doors are vulnerable; use a secondary locking or blocking device (pins and bars) that provides protection from lifting off the track as well as sliding.
- Prevent windows from being opened by drilling sash overlaps and installing pins.
- If you will be away from home for an extended period, have someone keep your lawn mowed and newspapers picked up while you're gone. Put mail deliveries on "Vacation Hold" or have it picked up by someone.
- Don't publish the fact that you will be out of town attending weddings, funerals or on vacation. Burglars read the society pages and the obituaries looking for opportunities.
- Don't place a message on your answering machine indicating that you are out of town or how long you'll be away. Don't leave notes on your door that indicate you're away and the time that you will return.
- If you have a security system USE IT. A recent study found that 41 percent of homes with security systems that were burglarized didn't have the system turned on.
- If you have a monitored security system, be sure to keep your Alarm Response Call List up to date.
- If you do not yet have an alarm system, alarm decals, Neighborhood Watch signs and Beware of Dog signs may deter some criminals but others may test to see if it is a bluff.
The steps above cost little or nothing are easily implemented and will help protect your home and family. Security Tips Part 2 will pick up from here and ratchet up the effort to harden the target.