Make Your Home More Secure
If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge? You may think this is a good idea, but if you can break in, so can a burglar! For a small amount of time and money, you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
- Make sure that every external door has a sturdy, well-installed deadbolt lock. Key in the knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors offer easy access if not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the door frame and the fixed frame and insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or pin the windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbour you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, rekey the locks.
A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- If your doors don’t fit tightly in their frames, install weather-stripping around them.
- Install a peep-hole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders.
Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips:
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune back the shrubbery so it doesn’t hide doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upper-level window.
- Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you’re home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions.
- Don’t let mail or newspapers pile up when you are away. Call the post office and newspaper to stop deliveries or have a neighbour pick up.
- Take an inventory of your valuables – VCR’s, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take photographs of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions. Check with police about engraving your valuables.
Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your home, live in an isolated area, or one with a history of break-ins. Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established company and check references before signing a contract.
Learn how to use your system properly! Don’t cry “wolf” by setting off false alarms. Invest in inexpensive options – motion sensors that make lights flash when they detect certain noises or sounds, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches or lights with photo cells that turn on when it gets dark and turn off when it gets light.
Burglars can commit rapes, robberies and assaults if they are surprised by someone coming home, or pick a home that is occupied. If something looks questionable, a slit screen, a broken window or an open door – DON’T GO IN. Call the police from a neighbour’s house or a pay phone. At night, if you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep. Guns are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every year. If you own firearms, be sure they are stored safely.
Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from home. Rather than saying “I’m not home right now”, say “I can’t come to the phone right now”, or “I’m not available right now”. Work with neighbours to keep an eye on each other’s homes and be aware of each other’s habitual comings and goings.