Unfortunately, the crime of burglary is almost always a case of an opportunity seen and seized.
Home security is made up of many things, including landscaping and lighting, doors and windows, locks and keys, alarms and safes, and sometimes even your loving dog. All of these things work together to comprise your safety.
The truth is, if somebody wants something in your home, they are going to get it. No home is a fortress, and we don’t want to feel as though we are living in a prison. However, the reality is, there are steps that we can take to make our home less attractive to a would-be thief or criminal so that hopefully they will look at your home and move on to an easier target. Below we will outline some of the things that you can do to limit your exposure to violent crime or theft.
Locks and Keys: The first line of defense in any home is the locks, specifically deadbolt locks. This is the least expensive thing you can do to immensely improve your security. Deadbolt locks are not all the same; there are three grades of deadbolts, grade 1 being the best. These will typically include pick resistance, drill resistance, a key that can’t be duplicated without your permission and a security strike that fastens to the construction framing of your home to prevent “kick-ins”. To strengthen the door, a deadbolt wrap-around plate and “dogging pins” used on the hinge side will improve the security of your homes door. Do not hide spare keys in obvious places! For more ideas, see our page on Locks.
Alarm Systems: An alarm is only a notification system to let someone know that your first line of defense has been violated. This is not to say that an alarm system is not a deterrent. The alarm sign in the yard and security stickers in the windows let a criminal know that their time is limited if they enter the premises.
An alarm system can also be used for life safety in the home, such as: a carbon monoxide detector, smoke or heat detectors, medical emergency buttons, and water sensors. There are many options to a home alarm system and there are no pre-packaged designs that will properly protect your home and your family. Your home, your lifestyle and your needs are unique to you and your family.
An alarm system can only be best designed when a security professional sits down with you and learns about your lifestyle and walks your actual home and surrounding area. Many things need to be considered when purchasing an alarm system such as; are there children in the home, are there pets in the home, are you gone for extended periods of time, do neighbors live close by, is there easy access to the second floor, is the house hidden from the road, do you want it for personal protection, property protection or both?
There are two kinds of monitoring for your system as well. First is standard signal monitoring and the next is independent verification monitoring, such as two-way voice or video “down-look”. With an ever increasing number of alarm systems being installed, false alarms have become a growing area of concern for police departments in terms of cost. Two-way voice and Video Down-Look are helping to combat the number of false alarms being reported to the police departments. Our page on Alarms and House Monitoring will give you more tips.
Video Surveillance: Wouldn’t it be great to catch a crook on video and show the images to the judge in court! However, it’s difficult to achieve that with amateur equipment. In the movies, crooks are caught by cameras that are always in the right place, the cameras are in perfect working order, and they somehow automatically follow and zoom in on the perpetrator. Let’s face it: you don’t have time to lurk behind the curtains all night with your camcorder. Leaving a camera to run will last only two hours, or up to eight hours if you connect it to a VCR. But tape heads wear out and need cleaning, otherwise you’ll show the judge nothing but static. Automatic “spy cams” you see on late night TV aren’t much better. See Ten Reasons Why Getting a $79 Hidden Camera is a BAD Idea!
For reliable camera systems that will actually do what you want, there are several professional-grade units that you should learn about. See Surveillance Cameras for details on miniature models, color or night vision cameras, and even a live camera comparison.
Safes: Safes are the last line of defense. A safe is designed to buy you time when somebody violates your first line of defense and the time it takes for somebody to respond to your alarm system. Typically a criminal knows that they have 5 to 45 minutes after they have triggered the alarm before someone is going to arrive at your home. There are four kinds of safes; burglar, fire, burglar/fire, and media data safes. No safe is impenetrable; it’s only a question of how much time it takes to get into it. Don’t be fooled into thinking a locked “fire box” sold at home centers and discount department stores is a safe. These often offer no burglar features and are small and light enough to be carried away and opened at the burglars’ leisure. See All About Safes.
Landscaping: When planning your landscaping, think like thieves and know your enemy. Remove trees or branches of trees close to your home that give burglars access to upper levels. Make it difficult to navigate through your yard and approach entry points. Plant low thorny bushes below your windows, trim your trees and shrubbery, and don’t give crooks somewhere to hide. Keep your lawn well maintained so they know the house is attended to and constantly inhabited.
Lighting: In addition to keeping your yard neatly trimmed and well cared for, keep it well lighted. Burglars prefer to operate in the dark. Install porch lights and be attentive to burned out light bulbs. Install motion sensitive lights. They will not only make you feel safer when approaching your home after dark but they will also deter criminals who don’t want to be seen. Leave a light on, preferably on each floor, when you go out in the evening.
Your dog: Dogs really are a deterrent; not only do they often frighten intruders but they also warn you. However, your dog is not a trained security dog. Most dogs are a loving member of the family and just as you would not expect your child to attack an intruder, you should not expect your dog to be the cornerstone of your security. A burglar doesn’t think of your dog as anything more than an annoyance. If he really wants in, he will not hesitate to injure your pet. On the lighter side, do you really want the family member who drinks from the toilet to decide whether you live or die if someone breaks in?
Remember, if you are robbed, it is better to lose your valuables than your life. Yield your possessions and let the burglar go. Then call the police. Be alert to every detail that can aid in identifying the criminal. There are many more things you can do to minimize your risks and they are too lengthy to list them all here. If you are unsure as to your specific needs, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or telephone.