Part Two of how to keep your family and home safe
The only way to stop a burglar is to put yourself in his shoes and think like one.
Most home burglaries are carried out by amateurs who are easily foiled once they come across a minor complication. This is in your favor, but keeping professionals at bay is a totally different matter.
There are several things you can do to keep your home and your family safe from a possible threat.
The key factor
One of the first things to do when moving into a new house is to have all the locks and tumblers replaced. There is no telling who is running around with a spare key to your property, even if you’ve been totally assured no other keys exist. Who are you to say that your would-be burglar is the same person assuring you there aren’t any more keys in the first place? Bear in mind that it’s extremely easy for somebody to make a copy of a key. Letting anybody in, like a dog-walker, house cleaner, or a babysitter, unless you have good references for them, is taking an uncalculated risk.
If you have misplaced your keys, change the locks as soon as you can. Somebody could have seen you coming out of the house and dropping them, so they don’t need to have your address stamped on your keys for them to know which door they open.
I’ve seen people ‘hiding’ their keys under the doormat, or on top of the door. This is the first place a person with evil intent will look at. If you’re not on good terms with the neighbors, enough to leave them a spare key to your home, then cover it in something waterproof and bury it in a spot where you can easily find it when you need it. And no, in the pot by the front door is a little bit too obvious. Don’t forget that burglars aren’t stupid.
Curtains keep more than the sun away
Keep your curtains or shades on ground floor windows closed. This helps people not to look in, and come to conclude that there’s nobody in the house at the time.
If the access points of your house are in darkness, these make it easy for a burglar attempt entry in peace. You can have lights installed which come on automatically when sensing movement in the vicinity.
Make sure your doors and windows are locked, and where necessary, use deadbolts for added security. Ideally, use fortified glass panels when possible. Many burglaries take place through an open window, or door. This also applies to gates and garage doors. You should really make it a point of locking up before you leave the house, even if it’s for a brief period of time. It only takes minutes for somebody to enter your home, and ransack it.
It’s not practical to have too much space between the frame and the door, or a window. This makes it easier for a burglar to lever it open. While on doors, if the door hinges are on the outside, place them on the inside, as it’s safer. If a burglar has access to the hinges, all he needs to do is remove the pin on the hinge, and the whole door comes off!
Don’t make your leaving obvious
A big No-No is to leave a note on the door with a message saying ‘you’re away’! This is what a burglar’s dream come true would be like. If you have regular deliveries to your home, call up the people providing you with the service. Don’t be too elaborate about your explanation though, just say that you don’t require their products, or services, for the next few days, and will get back to them in due time.
While trees provide you with shelter from the sun, they can also block out the view to your front door, or windows, nicely hiding somebody in the act of trying to break into your home. It’s a good idea to have these removed, and if you have any bushes covering up any other entrance to your home, to have these trimmed down to a level which doesn’t hide any part of your vulnerable zones.
The neighbor’s the ticket
Ask a neighbor to pick up your mail and other things delivered to your home when you’re away. This includes flyers on doors. If these flyers are still present the next day, it shows burglars that nobody’s at home. Who knows if these flyers were put there by the burglars themselves to scan the area before they strike? Nothing worse to attract attention to an empty place than a pile of un-opened newspapers on the lawn, or a pile of letters bursting out of the mailbox.
If you’re on very good terms with a neighbor, ask them to warn you of any suspicious looking types hovering about your home in your absence.
Once a house has burgled, it can happen again. Statistics show that you are more prone to be broken into than a house which has never been attacked. Apartments are at a greater higher risk than family homes.
The greater number of burglaries take place when most people are at school, or at work, that is, during the daytime.
It’s also a good idea to install iron bars on ground-floor windows. These don’t need to be like those found in a prison, as many are very decorative, but they do the job of keeping somebody from breaking into your home.
Away from prying eyes
One of the things to fool a burglar is to hide valuables where they wouldn’t think of looking. The first place they would look is in the bedroom.
A huge No-No is telling the whole world, on Social Media, that you’re going on holiday! You’ve just alerted all the burglars in the vicinity and your house is their next target. No posting on Social Media sites that you’re at the such-and-such restaurant, or stuck in traffic and won’t be home for hours, or visiting family in the next State. It’s all well and good, but it’s telling the whole world that your house is up for ransacking.
In a perfect world, your house should seem like it is occupied. Unless you ask somebody to stay over your place ‘til you come back, the only way to effectively do that is to make your house SMART.
Knock Knock – Who’s there?
Door-to-door salesmen are also a potential hazard. These might very well be professional burglars who would quickly scan your place for any alarm system present. Be wary of people in ‘distress’ who ask to use your phone to call the police or come up with an excuse that their car broke down and have to contact their mechanic. Just get the number and make the call yourself while they are outside your house, with the door locked.
Having a dog is handy. Putting up a sign on the front that says ‘Beware of The Dog’ is even better. Better still yet, is for your dog to start barking as soon as somebody approaches your house. In all fairness, you don’t actually NEED a dog, but it only SEEMS like you have one. This will be part of making your house SMART.
Be extremely careful of phone calls from supposedly Security Systems Firms asking you if your home is secure and if you need their service. NEVER say you don’t have an alarm system. Just mention that you have weapons in the house, and a dog. That should put off anybody getting any wise ideas about trying to break in your home.
However, after such a phone call, it would be wise to really think about installing a Security System…
Part Three, to follow soon.