Home Security Solutions
With somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million burglaries happening in the United States each year, you likely want to take some measures to prevent it from happening to you. Fortunately, there are a number of things that are cheap and easy that can put the odds in your favor to prevent break-ins.
Easy Ways to Prevent a Burglary
See, the thing is, burglars are lazy. They don’t want to screw around with alarm systems, heavy-duty locks, and other such preventative measures. They want to get in and get out as quickly as they can. Any obstacles you can put in their way will increase the chances they’ll just move on to an easier target.
If you don’t have an alarm system, fake it. Purchase or even print up on your computer at home stickers you can place on windows, advertising one or another alarm company. This simple measure might be all it takes to keep someone from wanting to risk a break-in at your home.
Install good locks on all doors and windows. Deadbolts should extend at least one full inch into the door frame when they are locked. Generally speaking, the cheaper the lock’s price, the lower the quality. In other words, don’t just buy what’s on sale but spend a few bucks more to get something that is going to do some good.
While you’re at the store looking at door locks, pick up a small package of 3-inch long wood screws. When you get home, open your front door and examine the hinges. You’ll see three screws going into the door and three screws going into the door frame, right? Typically, these screws are rather short and don’t dig into the frame very far. Replace them one at a time with the longer wood screws. If you go one by one, you won’t have to deal with completely rehanging the door. The longer screws will go past the thin door frame and dig into the studs, making for a much more secure entry point to your home.
Whether you have a dog or not, place an empty food dish somewhere easily seen from the back door to your home. Why the back door? Well, burglars tend to favor entry points that are away from prying eyes. By placing the dog dish near the door that is away from the street, you increase the odds it will be seen by the burglar. Over and over, studies have shown that crooks tend to avoid homes where they believe one or more dogs may be present.
Signs that say things like, “My home is protected by Smith & Wesson” are cute and all but really, all they accomplish is informing the burglar you likely have firearms in the home. Firearms are highly prized among burglars as they often can be sold quickly and for decent amounts of cash. Rather than encouraging a burglar to go elsewhere, all you’ve done is increase the temptation to see if your gun safe is unlocked.
Motion Lights Can Help Prevent Break-Ins
Install motion sensor lights above or very near each and every entry point to your home. Again, crooks don’t want to be seen. Test these lights regularly to ensure they are working properly and that the bulbs haven’t burnt out.
Clear bushes and shrubs away from doors and windows. They can provide concealment for thieves. If you simply must have some greenery, choose thorny plants such as Hawthorne. If you’ve ever encountered that plant before, you know well just how nasty it can be.
Take a walk around your home and look at it from an outsider’s point of view. Imagine if you were tasked with breaking into the house. What vulnerabilities do you see and how can you overcome them? What things do you have in place to prevent intrusions?
Improving Window Security
Next to doors, windows are of course a burglar’s easiest way to enter a home. Fortunately, there are a number of projects the average homeowner can complete that will serve to augment the home’s window security.
The key word when it comes to security is TIME. The longer it will take to gain entry, the more likely they’ll move on to an easier target.
Remove the Brush
The first thing to do is to remove any large bushes or shrubs that could conceal a burglar as he tries to open a window. This in and of itself will go a long way toward foiling potential burglaries. Burglars want to be hidden from prying eyes as they go about their business. For this reason, also consider installing motion-sensitive lighting along each side of the home.
Next, look at applying security film to the inside of the windows. This is a clear plastic that prevents the glass from shattering. The plastic keeps all the pieces of glass together, rather like we see in modern vehicle windshields. While the glass will break if struck, it stays in one piece, preventing the burglar from reaching in and unlocking the latch.
Prevent Outside Opening
If you have traditional double-hung windows, use a drill to put two small holes in the lower sash, drilling through and into the upper sash. Drill the holes at an angle downward. Then, slide nails into the holes, being sure to use nails that will slide back out easily with your fingertips. This will prevent the window from sliding open from the outside.
Don’t Display Valuables in the Sill
Avoid placing valuables directly in front of windows so as to prevent temptation. What you might put on the sills instead are inexpensive knick-knacks or vases. This way, if the burglar does get through the window, odds are there will be some noise from those things being knocked to the floor.
These are a few things you can do to help improve the window security of your home. Got any other tips you’d like to share? Post your ideas in the comments.
Keep Windows Covered
Burglars and other ne’er do wells will often peek into windows to find targets of opportunity. They are checking for two things. First, they want to determine whether anyone is home or not. Most burglars don’t want to be disturbed and target homes that are unoccupied.
Second, they are looking for the good stuff. Electronics, of course, are popular. TVs, DVD players, stereo equipment, anything that looks high-end and they can easily carry. Jugs of loose change will also get their attention, as will any other money lying around, jewelry, and firearms.
Do yourself a favor and keep your shades pulled when you’re not home. At night, leave a light on in the kitchen or living room so the glow can be seen from behind the curtains.
Avoid leaving valuables lying around where they can be easily seen, or even grabbed, from a window. Not much you can do about large TVs, of course, but positioning them so they don’t face the street is wise. Think about it this way, if someone were out for a late-night stroll, do you really want them coming to a halt in front of your house to see what you’re watching on TV?
Personally, I prefer blinds to just using curtains. I just find them to be better suited for keeping out prying eyes. Curtains are great for aesthetics, of course, so you might choose to use both.
Keeping the blinds closed during the day when you’re not home will also help keep your house cooler in the summer, which will help with the electric bill.
Landscaping for Security
I always advocate keeping shrubs to a bare minimum near doors and windows. The reason being, if they are large, they can hide an intruder as he or she works on breaking into the home. However, another approach is to grow plants in those areas that will help ward off the bad guys.
Growing a climbing rose along a window is a great way to keep folks away. Install a trellis under or next to the window and train the vine to follow it up and then along the window sill. The Voodoo rose is a great one for this as the thorns are very sharp.
The Washington Hawthorn is another great security plant. With thorns that can be a couple of inches long and VERY sharp, few people will traipse through one. As it grows, keep it trimmed as they can get very large.
The thorns on a Washington Hawthorn.
Blackberry vines work well too and have the added benefit of the fruit.
Pyracantha, also known as the fire thorn bush, can actually sting a person, leaving a burning sensation that lasts quite a while.
Any of the above, as well as other thorny vines and shrubs, will work well in deterring potential intruders from coming in the windows.
Securing the garage is just as important as securing the rest of the house. For those of us who use their garage as their workshop, complete with expensive tools and such, it is vitally important to keep things under lock and key.
There are three ways a burglar can enter the garage.
Secure the service door just as you would the entry doors to the home. Have a solid door, rather than a flimsy hollow-core one. Use a good, locking doorknob as well as a heavy-duty deadbolt. Make sure the hinges are installed using screws long enough to go into the studs. If you have an attached garage, take these same security measures on the door coming into the home from the garage.
The overhead door should be closed when you’re not in the garage working. If you just leave the door open all day long, what you are really doing is showcasing your good stuff to any burglars looking for good scores. If you have a garage door opener, unplug it when you’re not going to be home for a few days. You could also lock a padlock through one of the holes in the tracks to keep the door from moving.
Windows need to be secured as well. I honestly don’t know many people who actually open the windows in their garages. They are just for letting in light. If that’s the case for you, run a few wood screws through the frame to keep them closed permanently. Also, consider putting security film over the windows to keep prying eyes from checking out the merchandise.
Rural Homes Need Protection Too
Although the crime rates in cities certainly have much higher statistical numbers, there is no denying that rural areas are targeted frequently and perhaps more successfully. Rural residents often have fewer neighbors that can see what goes on, the lighting is less prevalent, and people in some areas even leave their homes unlocked while they are away.
True, a relaxed lifestyle is one of the benefits of living away from the city, but many homeowners may not realize that this lack of vigilance could someday cost them dearly. The most common types of crime in rural areas are larceny, burglary, and vehicle theft.
Protecting a Rural Home
Property crimes are actually somewhat common in rural areas. This could be in part because so many people leave their cars and outbuildings unattended without locking them up, and again it could be because the crimes are easier to commit due to the relative privacy of these rural homes.
However, instances of aggravated assault have skyrocketed over the last few years due in part because of the increasing drug traffic that now takes place in more isolated areas. This means that today, no one is safe, and the carefree days of living in the country may be a thing of the past.
Another factor to consider is that rural areas often have far fewer resources for protection at their disposal, due to smaller budgets and less manpower. In addition, since the rural homes are more far-flung and are often many miles away from the nearest police station, help could be a long time in coming when you call 911.
Protect Your Doors
A good home safety kit combined with extremely powerful outside lighting may be enough to not only prevent burglary or other crimes from happening but keep you safe if it does. You can put together a kit from this website that contains a combination of protection and alert devices to help you stay aware and react appropriately to the situation at hand.
You can include our Door Brace or door stop alarm, which can keep intruders outside where they belong. Our products are affordable enough to allow you to set up a whole security system that can fit almost any budget.
Worth learning is whether your state has any form of Castle Doctrine laws on the books. Most do, at least to one degree or another, but there are some that do not.
Castle Doctrine says if you are in your home, you have the right to defend yourself against an intruder, up to and sometimes including the use of deadly force.
Admittedly, that’s putting it a bit simply but that’s the long and short of it. Some states also have provisions within the law that state if a homeowner uses force to defend against an illegal intruder, said intruder may not bring suit against the homeowner for injuries sustained or damages, nor can their next of kin should the intruder be killed by the homeowner.
In most cases, there are elements that must be met for the Castle Doctrine laws to apply.
1) The intruder must have entered the home forcibly or unlawfully.
2) The occupant of the home must be there legally. Meaning, the occupants cannot be just squatting nor can they be fugitives from the law.
3) The occupant must reasonably believe their life, or the life of another occupant is in peril due to the intruder.
4) The intruder cannot be a law enforcement officer performing a legal duty, such as serving an arrest warrant.
Some states expand upon Castle Doctrine to include vehicles, workplaces, or even just where you’re standing at the time.
For those who may consider using deadly force to protect their family, in the home or otherwise, I’d HIGHLY encourage you to research the laws of your state and determine what is legal and what is not. There have been instances where homeowners have used deadly force against intruders and then were successfully sued by the next of kin. Better to know ahead of time what you are legally allowed to do and what you should avoid doing.
The floor is yours!
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