Home Security Tips - Book and Kick
CYA - Cover Your Assets
The day before Thanksgiving, my parents awoke to the doorbell at 3:30 am. A tall, thin policeman stood on the porch when they opened the door. My parents instantly feared the worst and started thinking of all their children and grandchildren. After a moment of staring at one another, the policeman took a breath and explained that a person had been caught breaking into cars all along the road. Apparently, my parents' 4 cars had been broken into also.
My Mom called me the next day and my mind raced with many different thoughts. What if the person had decided to break in to the house instead? What if my parents had heard something and went out to investigate, only to be confronted by a man with a gun? What if the man decided to return to the scene of his crime? Are my parents doing ok after such blatant disregard for their privacy? Luckily, my concerns were laid to rest when my Mom said the police caught the crook with the stolen goods on his person. Hopefully he goes away for a long time.
My motivation for writing this article is to help other people protect their homes and property from intrusion, legally known as burglary. The car break-ins do not constitute burglary, since they are not a typical permanent dwelling, but they got my mind moving. People in America need to know how to protect themselves from home invasions and robberies. For an act to be considered a burglary, the person must attempt to gain unlawful entry to a structure with the intention of committing a felony or theft. The attempt to gain entry can be by force, without force, and by attempted force. According to the FBI, an estimated 2,179,140 burglaries were committed in 2007. Many options are available for people who want to make their homes more secure and protect their assets.
Methods to Protect Your Home
The most popular way to protect your home is with a home security system such as ADT or Brink's. The typical home security system consists of:
- A keypad to enter your security code to arm or disarm the alarm
- Motion detectors for main rooms to alert you to movement, in case an intruder uses a door or window not set up with a contact alarm
- Contact alarms to tell you when windows or doors are opened
- A burglar siren to alert occupants and neighbors of an intrusion and to hopefully scare off the burglar
A second way to protect your home and property is to use automatic timers on lights or window shades within the house. If you choose this method of protecting your home, be sure to change which lights come on when and which shades will open or close so a burglar cannot detect a pattern and realize timers are being used.
A third way to protect your home, as well as your family, is to eliminate dark or protected areas around your house. I recommend implementing this step whether or not you implement the others. Use motion detector lights to illuminate doors and windows. A dark path to a door provides more cover for an intruder. Do not plant tall shrubs and bushes or trees around your house. Again, these places provide dark cover for a burglar to hide and wait for the opportune moment.
Other methods for protecting a home that I have seen include a home surveillance system, a medium or large-sized dog, a disabled security system or security provider logos on windows and doors, a neighborhood watch, and use of numerous locks.
Less Conventional Methods to Protect Your Home
A home surveillance system is not the same as a security system. It does not monitor movement and sound an alarm that instantly notifies police like the system. Rather, it is a camera and monitor that allows you to record and view movement outside your home. While this may be a good investment if you anticipate something happening while you are in your home, it still does not notify authorities of an issue.
A dog is a great deterrent for home intruders. Most dogs will notify owners of unusual movements and sounds from outdoors and typically the dog's bark will warn off burglars. Statistically, a burglar will only spend 5 minutes trying to enter a dwelling and will only do so if chances are extremely favorable that he or she will not be hurt or caught. Burglars do not want confrontation of any sort, and a dog will provide just that.
Some homeowners cannot afford a security system. Instead they have devices, stickers, or security company logos put on their property to appear as though the home is protected, while not enabling the service. While this was once a good idea, word of it has spread to the point of recognition by most people. A burglar does not automatically believe a home is protected anymore just by visual cues. However, it does still improve your odds a little bit because there is still the possibility.
A neighborhood watch is great. The neighbors all keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and report it immediately. However, there are times during the day when most people leave for work and are unable to monitor the streets near their homes. The neighborhood watch is a good idea, but I feel strongly that it should be used with other methods of home security.
Using excessive locks on your home is another great way to protect your home and property. Following the statistic mentioned above, a burglar will only take about 5 minutes to enter a home. If he or she has to trip 10 different locks, the effort will be too much. If you use this method, be sure to properly secure all windows too, even on the second floor if applicable.
In closing, I am going to mention several common sense security tips:
- Always lock your doors even if you are staying home
- Always lock windows at night or if you are leaving
- Do not invite strangers into your home, even if they seem to be from a reputable service company. Heck, I've read stories about people stealing police uniforms to gain access to protected places. If you are not expecting someone from a service company, call the company's customer service and be sure someone was due to your home for maintenance.
- Keep jewelry and expensive electronics in areas of your home not easily seen from main rooms and windows.
- Do not hide a spare key outside. A burglar can search online and find the newest key hiding gadgets just as easily as you and I.