Start with basic measures
What do you really need to maintain your home security and keep your family
safe? Security and alarm sales companies trade in homeowner insecurities to
sell myriad products designed to turn our castles into fortresses. But is all
that gadgetry really necessary? Of course you can spend a big pile of money,
but without taking the basic steps first and possibly changing some of your
habits, it might be for naught.
Actions you can take
Burglary is a crime of opportunity. If you and your neighbors work to prevent
the opportunity, you and your home will be that much safer.
Basic home security measures include the following:
- Know your neighbors and look out for each other's homes.
This is the key to neighborhood security. If you know your neighbors, their
kids, pets, cars, and typical schedule, it's much more likely that you'll
be aware when something is out of the ordinary. Talk to your neighbors when
leaving on vacation; tell them know how long you expect to be gone and when
you expect to be back. Most neighbors are happy to pick up the newspaper and
take out garbage bins. Leave a key with a trusted neighbor—it's
great when you get locked out, too.
- Call the police department and find out if there is a crime prevention team.
Ask for a home security inspection to identify your home's weak points.
- Train family members in basic safety techniques.
- Lock all doors and windows when you leave the house. Even
if you are making a short market run, lock the door.
- Keep the garage door closed and locked. The door between
the garage and house should have a deadbolt.
- Don't forget that your garage door opener is a version of a key.
- Windows and doors should be visible from the street. High
shrubbery and plantings can provide thieves with a place to skulk, so keep
- A tidy home gives a message that it's maintained and occupied.
If leaving on vacation, arrange to have papers and mail picked up by neighbors
or held at the Post Office. Hire a lawn service to mow, water, and tidy the
yard if you expect to be gone for more than a week.
- Don't leave your valuables where they are visible from doors and
- Don't leave notes with details about your absence.
- Train children so they know not to answer the door when you're gone
and to never give information out over the phone to callers they don't know.
(This may vary depending on the age of the child.)
- Photograph valuables and engrave, if possible, with your driver's license number
for insurance purposes. (Place a copy of your inventory
and related photos in a safe deposit box in case of fire.) Don't use your
social security number to ID your valuables.
- Remove all identification from your keys. If you lose them,
there's no reason to think they'll fall into honest hands. If you believe
someone has stolen your keys, have the locks changed.
Additional measures that may help secure your property.
- Upgrade doors to solid core that can withstand excessive force.
- Upgrade locks on doors and windows. A two-inch or longer
deadbolt lock on doors will stymie most would-be burglars.
- Add wide-angle viewers to doors to accommodate all occupants
including children or handicapped family members.
- Install motion sensor-activated exterior lights on entry porches.
Not only will it discourage burglars, it also makes it easier for you to get
into your home late at night.
- Install timers to switch lights, TV, or music on and off,
especially if you are planning to be gone.
Neighborhood Watch programs
Neighborhood Watch programs exist in many cities across the
US. It's an active and productive partnership between homeowners, neighborhood
residents, and law enforcement that has reduced crime substantially by raising
awareness of what can be done proactively to prevent becoming victims. If you
know of a program in your neighborhood, participate; if there is no program,
start one. This is not a social activity, you don't need to be best friends with
your neighbors to protect each other's home and family, however the benefits
are many including reduced risk of crime, mutual protection, and ability to
address neighborhood-related issues that may come up at a city level.
To start a Neighborhood Watch program, check with your neighbors to find out
if others are concerned or interested. Contact your local police department
and find out if there is a program coordinator or crime prevention specialist.
If the police have a Neighborhood Watch program in place, they can assist with
the details of organizing.
Suspicious of your neighbors?
Not all of us get to live in "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhoods. Sometimes our neighbors can be the problem. All the more reason to know who they are and band together with likeminded neighborhood residents to be vigilant. By working together you can create a neighborhood that is safer.
Work with your neighbors and local authorities to protect your home and property.
As a by-product of September 11, the Federal government is working with various
organizations to control gangs and facilitate homeland security and emergency
preparedness. The closer to home you keep your organization, the more autonomy
you retain. Awareness, the free flow of information, and proactivity are the
hallmarks of healthy citizen initiative and will provide the bedrock of your
neighborhood safety program.
A door installer can replace flimsy doors with solid core versions with heavy duty deadbolts.
Find a reliable, qualified professional who can be trusted. UpdateRenovate
can help you find installers in your city.