09 December 2011

Home Security: Easy and Cheap Ways to Increase Your Home’s Security Based on Burglars’ Habits

I wrote on home security here before, but two events made me want to mention it again especially in the Holiday Season:

  • My sister and her husband became a victim of larceny. Without their knowledge or permission (!), their cleaning woman had brought a helper with a long rap sheet of arrests for drug dealing. He (or perhaps she with him?) stole irreplaceable items (hidden, but that didn't help). Even a $30 money box could have prevented this.
  • A really clever trick to scoop out burglary targets. This happened to me shortly before Christmas a few years ago: a neatly dressed man in a black SUV pulls into our driveway and says he's ready to take us to the airport now. My first instinct was to say "but we are not leaving until Wednesday". But I shut my trap just in time. Instead, I explained that we're not travelling anywhere over the Holidays. He apologised and left - one house less on his list of potential burglary targets. 

That in mind, here are some interesting tips from one of my favourite websites, Lifehacker:

Most burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 pm.

Burglars look for homes that appear unoccupied. Consequence:
  • If you're out of the house during those hours and are concerned about burglaries in your neighborhood, consider setting a random timer to turn the TV or radio on during those hours.
  • If you have a second car, keep it out in the driveway while you're at work. Or, perhaps you can rent your driveway during the daytime (besides making your home less attractive to thieves, you can make a few extra bucks. Win!). Park Circa is a website where people look for a parking spot, perhaps also in your neighborhood.
  • Schedule gardening services or other home maintenance services like window cleaning during those prime theft hours.

The typical burglar is a male teen in your neighborhood – not a professional thief – and 60 seconds is the most time burglars want to spend breaking into your home.

Enough security to thwart a regular person may be sufficient (and pros are difficult to deter anyways):
  • "My scary dog runs faster than you"-sign may be one of the most effective theft deterrents, other than—or in addition to—actually owning a scary dog. (Even a small dog prone to barking helps, though.) 
  • Regular "beware of dog" signs work too, especially if you add some additional supporting evidence of dog ownership, like leaving a dog bowl outside by your side door.
  • Deadbolt locks, bars on windows, and pins in sash windows may be effective theft deterrents. Make sure every entry point is locked.

Homes without security systems are about 3 times more likely to be broken into.
  • In lieu of actually signing up for a home security system, you could just buy decals and signs from ebay or elsewhere. Place the decals on your front door, where the majority of thieves enter.

Thieves enter through the front door, first-floor windows, and back doors, followed by the garage, unlocked entrances, and the basement (in order of popularity).

  • Look at reinforcing all of these entry points.
  • Make sure those points of entry are well lit (motion-detector lights are inexpensive and don't use a lot of energy).
  • Clear thief-hiding shrubbery close to your house.
  • Best places to put your security cameras: front and back door, first floor windows (Lifehacker featured quite a few DIY ones using old webcams or your PC.) 
  • Fake security cameras placed at those points might also be effective.

An average of 8 to 12 minutes is all a burglar spends in your home.

So make your valuable objects harder to find within those 12 minutes:

Protect your home while on vacation.
  • Make sure help from friends or neighbors includes little things like putting out garbage cans, getting mail, maybe even cutting the grass.
  • Don't forget the daily stuff like stopping newspaper and mail delivery, if you don't have someone picking those up for you.
  • Use a random timer on your indoor lights or TV.
  • Create a home inventory – for which there are plenty of good tools – and take lots of pictures of the place before you leave.

Got any tips of your own? Please share!

Via Lifehacker

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