Christmas: the season for burglaries and home invasions. Though the threat of robbery exists all year round, there’s a very real increase of theft between Thanksgiving and New Years. Now is the time to keep the season bright by conducting a home safety walk-through.
Burglars love places to hide. Do you have any tall shrubs or bushes close to the house? If so, trim them down. Next, walk around your house at night. Are there any shadowy, dark places where a prowler might lurk? If so, you should install motion detector lights to illuminate those places whenever potential trouble passes by.
Have you been in the habit of hiding keys under doormats or rocks? Consider giving everyone in your family a copy of the key and bringing the spare inside. Burglars are well aware of the most common hiding places for keys, and will be more than happy to let themselves into the house should you neglect this step.
Next, take a look at your hardware. Do you have an exterior fuse box? Secure it with a lock. Do you have a habit of leaving ladders or tools around your yard? Lock them up so robbers can’t use them against your home and family.
A reputable, monitored security system is a massive deterrent for burglars. A do-it-yourself security system is not. A DIY security system assumes that there is always going to be someone nearby to hear the alarm system when it goes off. If you are not home to hear the alarm it will do you little good, and relying on neighbors to hear the alarm assumes that they will be home as well. It also assumes that the neighbors won’t simply dismiss the sound as a false alarm. A monitored system, by contrast, sends a signal to a 24/7 monitoring center who in turn dials the police. Display security system signs and stickers prominently to make your home look less attractive to thieves.
Since most security systems do not cover all of the windows, you should also install sash window screw bolt locks. Since security systems and screw bolt locks can generate a discount on your homeowner’s insurance you can contact your insurance company to get their recommended brand.
Though it may be an expensive project you may also want to take a look at replacing your doors and windows. Most burglaries begin when the crook kicks in the front door. You can make this harder on thieves by installing sturdy deadbolts. If you have a hollow core door you should replace it with sturdy, solid wood or steel. As for your windows, storm windows are difficult and noisy to break.
Dogs can be somewhat helpful, but they’re not as big of a deterrent as people think they are. It’s easy to shoot dogs. It’s also easy to slip them drugged meat. If you want a watch dog, you might not want to get a larger breed. A small, fast, aggressive yappy dog can present far more problems to a robber than your typical laid back Labrador.
Good security also begins with the people living inside the home. Discourage your family members from chatting too freely with sales representatives, delivery people or repairmen. You should also be wary of anyone who knocks on the door after dark. Home invaders often knock on the door only to force themselves inside to subdue the family once the door is open. If you’re not expecting anybody to come over and you don’t have a peephole, don’t open the door at all after dark.
Finally, don’t advertise. Don’t advertise what you own by putting electronics or appliance boxes out on the curb for the world to see. Don’t advertise your presence or absence. Have the post office stop your mail and the newspaper stop deliveries when you leave for the holidays. Leave a light on or the television going when you leave the house. Hide your car in the garage so that it is impossible for your driveway to announce whether you are home or not.
Remember, burglars like easy, lucrative targets. If you can make it plain that your home represents too large of a risk, chances are the thieves will move on to someone who is a little less prepared.