Crime Prevention Tips: Home Security - Invest In It NowFrom the National Crime Prevention Council
If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge?
You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can break in, so can a burglar!
One out of six homes will be burglarized this year. For a small amount of time and money you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of being a victim.
Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds to try breaking into a home. Good locks--and good neighbors who watch out for each other--can be big deterrents to burglars.
Check the Locks
Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowelin the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame.Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or “pin” windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
Check the Doors
A lock in a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window open.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- If your doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders.
Check the Outside
Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips:
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
- Keep you yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn’t hide doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upper-level window.
- Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you’re at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions. And don’t let you mail pile up! Call the post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.
- Make a list of your valuables - VCR’s, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions. Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through Operation Identification.
- Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.
Consider an Alarm
Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history of break-ins.
- Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established company and check references beforesigning a contract.
- Learn how to use your system properly! Don’t “cry wolf” by setting off false alarms. People will stop paying attention and you’ll probably be fined.
- Some less expensive options…..a sound-detecting socket that plugs into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain noises, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches, or lights with photo cells that turn on when it’s dark and off when it’s light.
Burglars Do More Than Steal
Burglars can commit rapes, robberies and assaults if they are surprised by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.
- If something looks questionable - a slit screen, a broken window or an open door - don’t go in. Call the police from your cell phone or a neighbor’s house.
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
- Guns are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every year. Think carefully before buying a gun. If you do own one, learn how to store it and use it safely.
There's More You Can Do
- Join a Neighborhood Watch group.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from home. Rather than saying “I am not at home right now” say “I am not available right now.”
- Work with neighbors and local governments to organize community clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.