Make invading our home difficult enough to make a potential felon move to an easier target.
I have the luxury of living in a relatively low crime area that has relatively few home break-ins and the incidence of home invasion violence is rare indeed. However, I have been thinking of purchasing a home security system, just for additional peace of mind.
Of course, I have gone through some of the possibilities that are not so hi-tech like owning an attack-trained Rottweiler or Doberman Pincer; perhaps purchasing a particularly lethal shotgun and the window sticker that says something like “premises guarded by Smith and Wesson”, or something just as frightening and lethal; maybe even figuring a way to wire high voltage shock into the areas of access to my home.
In short, I envisioned a rural Fort Knox for my home. Fortunately for me (and for our bank account), my wife has sensibly put a damper on these and other more lethal systems of home security, and I’ve reluctantly allowed sanity to re-enter my plans and looked at some alternatives.
I once, years ago, heard a discussion by a man who was an expert in home security and something he said has stuck with me since then. He said that we are not going to reform a burglar or his intention to steal; rather every security device we use is aimed at having him rob someone else. In other words, we need to make invading our home difficult enough to make a potential felon move to an easier target.
To that end, I started looking at how easy it is to enter our home. The Department of Justice says that around 40% of annual household burglaries in the United States are where someone was able to walk, climb or crawl inside of houses with ease, almost as if we gave them a key.
When most of us think of home security, we tend to go to an alarm system (monitored or not) that is wired into each door and window. I will go into them in a subsequent article, but first let’s look at ways we can lower our vulnerability in simple ways by ourselves.
The first thing I did was ensure that I have a dead bolt on each of my entrance doors. Without a dead bolt, most simple locks can be opened by sliding a credit card into the door and popping the door open in less than ten seconds. I also installed a Schlage programmable lock (about $120) that replaced a key.
This allowed me to easily program a code for each person that we wanted to have access to our home – our house cleaner, our children, selected friends, etc. The joy of these locks is that we can program up to 20 different codes and delete them as we wish. We don’t have to give out keys that may be duplicated or lost, or leave a spare key where burglars can find it. Of course, for both sliding doors and windows, a simple dowel or other piece of wood can be cut to size and placed on the to prevent them from being opened from the outside. There are also locks or pins designed to do the same thing, that can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Other, simple things that serve to lessen the chances of your home being invaded include:
- When you leave, even for a short time, leave a light or two on and leave the television or music playing to make it appear that someone is home.
- Keep your landscaping manicured. Tall shrubs and overgrown trees are both hiding places for criminals to wait until the coast is clear and easy access from branches that overhang the home.
- Involve the local police – Many local law enforcement agencies offer security evaluations of your home and, if you’re leaving town for a while, let the police know and request that they drive by your property to check on things.
- When you go away for a vacation or visit, don’t let your home look empty. Don’t change your phone messages to indicate that you have left town.
- Have your mail held at the post office.
- Ensure you lawn is being mowed and that your newspaper subscription is held so papers don’t pile up.
I know that most of the above are simple measures and you’ve probably heard them before, but remember that many break-ins occur by simply going through unlocked windows and doors.
Unless it is known that you have something particularly valuable, or that you have made your absence public knowledge, burglaries are crimes of opportunity and if you make your home a less desirable target, the would-be thief will go elsewhere looking for an easier victim and you will remain safe.