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L. Frank Baum famously said, “There’s no place like home.” When that home is violated and encroached upon, our safety and sense of security are threatened.
We won’t even be thinking about house crimes like theft and burglary in a perfect world. Our home should be a safe haven, a sanctuary where we feel secure and protected. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. In fact, according to statistics, an estimated 2.5 million burglaries happen every year in the US, 66 percent of those are home crimes. Most of these home break-ins happen in broad daylight, especially in summer, when doors and windows are usually left open.
What can we do to protect our homes? Here are 7 practical steps to deter theft and burglary.
The first thing you do to protect your home from villains is to think like one. Are there weak entry points in your house? Anyone who wants to gain unlawful entry into your home will most certainly take advantage of weak spots.
Survey your property. Are all your outdoor lights working? Are there step ladders near windows? Are there tree branches reaching out to an upstairs window? Are there tall shrubberies where intruders may hide for cover?
Check out all your doors and windows. Fix anything that is broken. Use metal bars to reinforce windows. Check sliding doors too and use a foot lock so they don’t forcibly open.
If anything looks and feels weak, that could be a problem. Is part of your ceiling falling off, or is a rotting wall going to cave in soon? If you can’t get it fixed, at least find a temporary solution.
The next worst thing to an unlocked house is a key readily available for the taking. Think flower pots or flower beds, doormats, rocks, and other obvious hiding places. People stash their spare keys in obvious places, making burglary with no forced entry very common.
We all need a spare key in case we lose ours or one of the kids gets home before anyone else. But don’t be too obvious for crying out loud.
The best thing to do is to give responsible family members their own set of keys or leave an extra one to a neighbor you absolutely trust. Remember that keys are so easy to duplicate, so you want to be sure your neighbor is trustworthy before you give them a house key.
If budget is not a problem, consider a smart digital door lock. It eliminates the need for an extra key and the hassle of rummaging for it inside your bag. Moreover, it comes with many features for additional security measures: it notifies homeowners when someone enters or leaves the house, it may be remotely accessed, and it may be integrated with other smart technologies like smart camera and smart lighting. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a downside. Old-timers are not particularly receptive of smart lock technology since many of them don’t use smartphones, WIFI, or Bluetooth, which are commonly used to access digital locks.
Weigh the pros and cons and check if your budget will allow it. A smart locking system may just work for you.
Take advantage of technology these days and install a reliable alarm system. Install motion sensor lighting, a doorbell camera, and, even if you’re going away, put a radio on the timer.
If you need additional security measures, especially if house break-ins are common in your area or you’re going away for an extended period, go for a closed-circuit television (CCTV) or, at very least, fake one: hang video surveillance aluminum signs. These metal signs are sometimes enough to deter unlawful entry so many homeowners use it to fake surveillance recording.
If there’s no friendly neighborhood spider in your area,you have to step up your game. Get to know your neighbors and, if at all possible, start a neighborhood watch program.
People are usually eager to contribute to a community effort when they understand what’s at stake, and what could be more important than living in a safe and secure community? Nobody has to do what law enforcement officers do and put themselves in harm’s way, but there are many things you can do as a community to protect each other and your properties.
Getting to know each other is a good start. Anybody who doesn’t belong to the community or doessuspicious activities must be reported to the police immediately.
When you go on an extended vacation, ask someone to grab your mail—but not all of it. Someone eyeing your property will be instantly alerted if mails don’t come anymore, because the usual practice is to cancel subscriptions or redirect mails to a box or another address if one is going away for some time.
Another good practice would be to ask a neighbor to use your car park. Based on online data, burglary happens only 27.6 percent of the time when someone is home. If you ever want to deter burglars, first pretend that someone is always at home. It also helps to trim shrubbery around entrances and remove anything in the neighborhood that may provide criminals ample cover.
What does delayed gratification mean to you?
Well, in the case of your home’s security, delayed gratification could simply mean not advertising your trips as soon as you lock your home. In fact, do not post your plans at all.
Many people advertise their plans, their schedules, and even their alone time at home. Those are personal things we don’t want to share least someone with dark intentions gets wind of them.
So when on a trip, enjoy the moment, take as much photos as you want, and post them on social media platforms once you’re safely back home.
If you have a mortgage contract on your home, you most probably have home or property insurance. If you don’t, be proactive and don’t wait for the unthinkable to happen before insuring your property.
A property insurance usually covers sudden and unexpected damages to your property. These damages may be caused by fire, hail, hurricane or tornado, or theft. If you do have property insurance, read and understand its coverage.
Make an inventory of your valuables, like jewelry, expensive watches, or heirloom pieces, and keep them in a safe. So many people cannot provide authorities with accurate information about their valuables because they missed to make an inventory. So while you are not in a rush or in a pressure cooker, make that list.
Valuables, like expensive artworks, that you’re not placing inside the safe should be moved away from windows or doors where prying eyes can easily spot.
As much as possible, we don’t want to give criminal minds the stimulus they need to violate our properties, and let’s keep in mind that our best offense is a good defense. So go ahead and secure your homes now.