“Safe as houses” used to be an old saying that was meant to be taken literally. However, that phrase is no longer applicable to modern homes. Criminals do not want to work hard for their booty. They choose which homes to burgle after giving the home a brief inspection. If you can alarm your home securely, then criminals will not waste their valuable time breaking into your property.
Motion sensor lights can be startling and surprisingly effective at keeping away criminals. However, even a steady porch light that details doors, garages or other points of entry can also deter criminals in neighborhoods where houses are spaced close together. Any silhouette of a moving body can easily be seen by neighbors.
Timers for lights inside of the home are an inexpensive way to make it appear that someone inside of the house is always awake and active. Just one lamp needs be set should you go away on vacation or have to work nights. Keep flashlights near sleeping areas or in basements to add extra light in emergencies to discourage looters.
Not only do doors need locks, but so do windows, sheds and even gates to fencing around the home. For example, dogs are targets of theft. But dogs are usually only out during the day, so thieves need to be as fast as possible. Even a simple padlock on a wire mesh fence can slow down a potential dog thief.
Good windows can act as locks. The Personal Security Handbook (Globe Pequot; 2003) recommends casement windows with latches. Forget about bars on windows because they can cause more harm than good. If people inside of the home needed to exit the windows because of a fire or other disaster, bars will prevent their escape.
Alarms range from a wildly honking goose in the front yard to wiring a sophisticated glass break detecting whole-house sensors. Even screaming makes an effective alarm call if neighbors live within earshot. Home security systems are only as good as their equipment and how well the home’s occupants can work the equipment.
Placing home alarm stickers prominently on doors or windows usually causes a criminal to think twice. Fake CCTV cameras are available to deter the more timid of burglars. The best ones occasionally move like real security cameras.
But in an article for Best Life, four property security experts claimed the best home alarm was a dog. Former NYPD detective and security business owner Beau Diel described his tiny Pomeranian that “barks at every damn thing.”
The best habit you can get into to keep yourself and your home safe is becoming friends with at least one of your neighbors, recommends the University Of Oklahoma Police Department. Learn their routines and call police if any strangers show up claiming to be friends or relatives of your neighbors. Let one trusted friend know when you are going on vacation so they can swing by your home to take in any mail or newspapers. Be sure to return the favor.
Also, get to know the barking habits of your neighborhood dogs. There usually is at least one dog in the neighborhood that barks only at people walking by and not squirrels or random plastic bags. If that dog begins barking, look out of your windows as soon as possible. Chances are high that a stranger has entered the street. Make sure that stranger keeps on moving.
The Personal Security Handbook. Christopher McNab & Joanna Rabiger. Globe Pequot; 2003.
“How Security Experts Secure Their Own Homes.” Best Life. December 2005/ January 2006.
University of Oklahoma Police Department: “The Police Notebook: Hardening Your Home.” August 27, 2008. http://www.ou.edu/oupd/hardhome.htm