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August 31, 2009


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Keep curtains/shades closed on unused rooms and rooms not visible from the street - several robberies in our area occurred when thieves looked in windows to see what was available such as computers, jewelry boxes, tvs, etc.

Don't discuss plans for being away from home in public places - it's easier than you think to be overheard and then targeted.

Know the workmen in your area - they should have IDs or at least have the company name on their vehicle. If they seem to be 'wandering' around the neighborhood, call the company, or the security guard or police, and check on them.

Don't be predictable - if you typically leave your car in the driveway during the day, park it in the garage sometimes; go out to dinner every Thursday, change to Wednesday; play golf every Sunday morning, play in the afternoon or on Friday. Don't be in that newspaper photo or your name either that says the Blue Shirt Ladies Golf Group play every Wednesday. Burglars typically rely not just on visual clues, but patterns.

Don't mean to sound paranoid but where I live there is high unemployment, high rates of foreclosed/empty houses and the crime rates of burglary are going up. I've worked hard for what I have and I'm not going to lose it if I can do something to prevent it.

My neighbors garage was broken into two weeks ago- they busted a window in the door and took a bike.
I have since contacted our police department and scheduled a visit from the community security division and they will tell me how i can improve security at my home.
One of my co-workers has given me info on home security alarms that cost under $300, I am considering it and would be cheaper then a dog!

If you do decide to get a dog, you'll probably end up fencing in the back yard anyway :).

When we got our dog, our back yard was open and we had a chain for her. She was so miserable on the chain that we decided to fence in the yard so she could run around. Hadn't even considered the security angle to it; I'll mention it to our insurance company and see if we can get a premium deduction.

if you're a DIY type person a security system is actually quite affordable. Look for a wireless system and it is very easy to setup and maintain. We purchased a wireless system at the beginning of the year and it cast ~400 and that is with 18 months of monitoring. I even use our high-speed internet instead of a phone line and it worked very well...I've set it off several times and the call was very quick to come in.

It was a basic system with two window/door sensors, a pet-immune motion detector, master panel and router to send the alarm signal. Additionally I can expand it to control lights, add smoke detectors, or add video.

We also added sensors to outdoor lights that come on when it gets dark so we never have to remember to turn them on.

You can avoid the keys entirely with a Simplex, five button lock. No keys to worry about, no batteries needed, and change the combo any time you wish.

We had a series of break-ins in our sub recently and the police told us the number one security risk is:


The thieves were breaking into cars, then just pushing the garage door button, entering the house, closing the garage door, and they could roam the house undetected for hours looking for valuables. Even houses with deadbolts between the house and garage were no match, as the burglars had all the privacy they needed to kick in the door.

They were doing this on weekends when families would leave the house for obvious day-trips (i.e. packing coolers, etc.) in the main family car, which is normally parked in the garage. Meanwhile, the other car was left in the driveway with the opener on the visor. Easy pickings.

Adding lights needs to be part of a comprehensive solution.

Adding always-on lights to a back entrance could be a negative security feature, because it's not visible from the street (so neighbors aren't watching) and it provides light for a thief to pick the lock by.

Motion lights effectiveness is in their ability to draw attention to an intruder with the sudden burst of light. If you have frequent friendly yard guests (rabbits, cats, deer, etc.), then a motion light going on will be less effective since no one will notice/care that it has gone on.

Security is actually another interest of mine. This list is pretty good.

All windows should have blinds, and all of them should be closed by dark. Nothing screams "victimize me" like a house where you can clearly see into the inside from the outside. Besides burglars, it's also a good passive deterrent against peeping Toms.

Also, if you already have a car with a car-alarm, it's a cheap make-shift panic button. I have my keys next to my night stand so that the car remote s within easy reach.

Absolutely always have a cellphone, and next to you on the nightstand. Second to a very large dog, this is your best tool in the toolbox. That way, even if you experience a power outage, you can still call for outside help.

I also agree with motion sensing outdoor lights. No need to leave it on constantly. Saves electricity, and plus, there's that surprise factor I like. Otherwise, I've found that one can actually work around constantly lit nights, because it creates spots of shadows to hide in. (We used to play hide and seek at night like this when I was kid.)

Finally, this is more tongue-in-cheek than anything so please don't take it seriously, but I also shoot firearms. When I lived in a bad neighborhood, I posted the paper target with my shot grouping, and the score 100% circled in the upper right hand corner on the window. (My instructor circled the target, not me) I never once got robbed. I don't know if my make-shift "sign" had anything to do with it, but I would like to think it did. :D

Bellen made a good point about not discussing vacation plans in public. I would add that you should also watch what you say on your Facebook page, or in some blogs too, re: when you're going to travel, what cool new gadget or TV you just got, etc.

Also, in some municipalities, the police department will do a courtesy check on your home if you're going to be away on vacation. You just have to call and request it.

On the subject of lighting, I don't think more is always better. Here's a link to an article that takes an in depth look at what lighting is actually helpful in deterring crime.

Have the deadbolts "keyed" from BOTH sides of doors, so as to not allow a window to be broken and then reaching through to turn the locks!(Keys can be left in lock while home if you are fire weary). Have 3-4" "powerdrive" screws inserted into each door jamb/lock jam so as to have the jambs be reenforced with screws that go well INTO the studs around the doors. Be sure the locks "throw" the full 1" into the door studs and aren't blocked by the jam itself - I see this OFTEN! "Monster jambs" added to all exterior doors with 4-6 screws are a help also. Tighten hinges too! Be sure windows have cut and measured dowels that "deadbolt" the windows shut in addition to the window locks. Alarm/stickers/signs (even w/o the system) are great deterents. Cut the hedges, bushes ALL around the home. Be sure newspapers/flyers ARE collected when youa ren't home. do not put address on your keys or a key in a wallet (in case of loss), LOCK your garage door opener in trunk/glovebox when parking your also locked car. When away for longer periods, deadbolt the garage door and leave the openers home. Florescent bulbs cost a few $$ but pennies to operate and can be left on outside the home, don't forget the BACK where most breakin's happen cuz no one can see the back yard area...Most of all, common sense, USE the locks - ALL the time - storm doors too, check operation and be dilligent.

I have two big dogs. Didn't get them for security of course (wouldn't recommend it, they should be pets first) but they're quite effective at scaring off any unwanted visitors, whether they're local wildlife, burglars, or Jehovah's Witnesses.

I live in a rural area and I've considered getting geese for security. If you've never encountered a goose before they are highly territorial and aggressive.

FMF- You did a nice job of pooling together multiple resources to provide simple and effective tips for your readers. You would think a lot of the advise you provided is a no-brainer but sometimes it is the easy steps we can take to protect our homes that is overlooked.

Some additional tips for home safety can be found here:

I just had a quick tip, use two by fours to block windows from opening. Also I had purchased battery operated alarms from walmart which create a loud sound once a window is cracked open. I think they were fifteen dollars for a pack of two. Very inexpensive considering the options of a full alarm system.

Quite unrelated, but I was struck by your comment

"..ideas on how to handle speeders in the neighborhood"

How do you handle speeders in your neighborhood?

Billy --

Thoughts from the neighbors:

1. Have police do a stake out.

2. Have police post an unmanned radar sign.

3. Install speed bumps (I hate this idea).

4. Put up signs that say "speeders will be paintballed." :-)

One suggestion I have is to run your TV on a timer while you're away. Most modern TV's have this. Usually, the "glow" from a TV is easy to see, and if it's on, most people will think you're home. If it's on 24/7, you'll be wasting power and someone might figure out that you're not home. If it comes on for a couple of hours each evening, people won't think you're out of town. Nice freebie if your TV has it.

Occupied home invasions are something to consider as well. It's worth researching steps to be able to stop these and defend your and your family if necessary.

I also read somewhere not to post on facebook, myspace, etc. before you go out of town, or to post pics/comments while you're out of in town - perfect time for someone to break in! Instead, wait until you return to post pics and info.

This is a good post. thanks for all the tips. I like the "TV" tip. One thing, I'd do also is to put up a small camera and alarm device. And yes, please don't broadcast you're going out of town.

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