How to Burglar Proof Your Home...

        Is it just me or is there is something creepy about being a female alone in a house at night?  Maybe it's because every horror movie I've ever seen involves some creep lurking outside in the backyard, prank calling a young babysitter, wearing a mask and peeping through the windows .... Or maybe its because I'm overexposed to the criminal element ... Whatever the case, I had the priviledge of having a "Crime Prevention Specialist" come over to my house this week to share some wisdom on how to make my home "a harder target" and I thought I'd share some of these saftey tips with you.

Windows: Always have atleast two levels of protection on your windows.  If there is only one locking mechanism, you can go to Home Depot or Loews to purchase a cheap adjustable curtain rod, or a dowel, to stick in your window to give it that extra level of protection.  Pay extra attention to windows on the lower level of the house and any windows that a person could easily climb through.  Next, walk around your house at night. Look in the windows and observe what is visible from the outside.  Is your flat screen TV in perfect view from the street?  You may want to rearrange your furniture so that temptations are not on full display when the blinds are open. 

The last thing you have to worry about is someone shattering your window with a rock or other object.   I was told that they sell a security laminate that can be clear, tinted, or reflective and stick right onto the inside of your windows.  If someone throws something at your window, the laminate will hold up and keep the glass from shattering inside your house. It also creates more work for the burglar which is often unattractive (as they want to be in and out as quickly as possible.) They also sell security solar screens which keeps both the sun and criminals out!

Lighting: The more lighting the better.  When you are away, utilize timers to make it appear that someone is home.  While you are home, utilize motion detector lights outside to illuminate possible prowlers around the home.  A well lit home is less attractive to a burglar.  While you are walking around outside, look for dark spots around your home. Then try to fill them with light so that it's harder to hide.

Shrubs:  Could a person easily hide behind a large bush or tree in your front or back yard?  Smaller plants and trees leave no hiding places for criminals around your house. Also, if you have a wall facing a street, consider planting some pain-inducing plants in large potters surrounding the wall. Landing in a large cactus bush is not as inviting as a dirt yard.

Doors: Solid wood or steel frame doors.  Two doors are better than one. If you only have one door they sell pressure hinges that can be placed on the doorknob at night making them virtually impossible to kick or push though.

Safe:  If your house got broken into, what would be the few things that would devastate you if they were lost?  Is it a wedding ring?  Financial records? Birth certificates?  An urn? The things you truly can't bear to lose should be locked up in a safe and hidden in a specialized compartment in your house.  (perhaps behind a painting in the wall, or underneath the floorboards, in the basement, or attic)

Backyard:  First and foremost, if you have a backgate, put a lock on it.  Noone should be able to freely enter/exit your yard.  Secondly, put tools away.  The specialist stated that many burglars often do not even bring their own tools, but happen to use things they find in your backyard (shovels, screw drivers, rocks, etc..)

Signs:  Even if you don't have a big dog, get a "Beware of Dog" sign.  Also get a sign that says you have a home security system. Both act as deterrents to criminals.

Power box:  In order to defeat a security alarm, criminals will often cut off the power in the house before making entry. If you can lock your electric box, LOCK IT. I bought a combination lock this week and feel much better knowing the power can't be turned off on me.

Car: Do you park your car outside or in the garage?  If it's outside, do you keep the garage door opener on your viser?  Bad IDEA!!! That can easily be stolen and your garage door opened. 

Garage: Most automatic garage door openers have an emergency pull mechanism in case the power goes out. If you simply pull this red handle the garage will come off track and it can be manually opened. Some criminals know this.  All they have to do is remove one panel from your garage or one window, and they can reach in and pull that lever.  Go into your garage and look for your pull lever.  If its easily accessible, tie it up high where it can't be easily reached.

Pet doors: The smaller the better. Whatever size your opening is, try to disguise it with a customized pet house in front of it so that a burglar does not see an entry to the home, rather a small cat or dog house in the backyard.

Alarms:  There are 3 types: 1) Audible only (makes a loud screeching noise to scare burglar and alert neighbors 2) Monitored: when alarm goes off, a security company will come out to your home to decide whether or not police presence is necessary. 3) Non-monitored: You can actually receive direct notification if your alarm goes off and you can decide how to handle it from there. Decide what's most appropriate for your lifestyle.

Peepholes:  Have a large peephole and use it before you open the door. They actually sell video screen  peephole inserts that show you who is at your door on a live LCD screen.  They can even take a picture of the person at the door and record video. Get one with night vision.

Video Surveillance: They sell sophisticated video surveillance systems so that the home owner can view their front/back/side yard easily from a TV monitor in the house. This may act as a deterrent itself, but if not, atleast you have an image to provide to the police if your home is broken into. You can also determine the time they came, how many people were involved, any cars involved, officers more to go on.

Unexpected visitors:  Don't open the door right away. Give a verbal response to find out who is at the door and what they want. Don't feel pressured to open the door. Some criminals play the part of sales reps to get you to open the door and once its open, push their way through.

Firearms: If they are unsecured, they can easily be used against you if you are arriving home during a burglary. Keep them locked away with a trigger guard. Don't keep them in common places like the nightstand, under the mattress, in a dresser, or in the closet.

Neighbors: Talk to them. Tell them if you notice any suspicious vehicles or people wandering the area. Ask them to keep a look out for your home in exchange for the same.

Your stuff:  Have a list of all valuables with serial numbers for insurance purposes

There is only so much you can do to protect your home.  If a burglar truly wants in, it's going to happen. However, you can take preventative measures to keep the riff raff out. Make your home a "hard target." Then hopefully they will skip yours and move onto .... your neighbors?? Errrr.... Hopefully they will just give up and go to church... ;)



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