Uninviting Burglars part 1
Burglars, thieves, and muggers are opportunists. They prowl about looking for things such as high bushes around doors, windows, or garages to hide behind; open doors or windows for easy access; an inviting open garage door; an accumulation of flyers & newspapers; little or no lighting around entryways and garages; empty big-ticket-item boxes on the curb; a darkened house indicating nobody home.
Keep a written inventory of your property along with photos or videotape. Store the list along with pictures/video in a secure place away from the house such as a safety deposit box. Include a description of each item, purchase receipts, and any serial numbers (helpful for insurance/recovery identification). Contact your local police department. Many offer a free home security inspection. Mark your property with a code in an inconspicuous spot using indelible ink or an etcher (Some police departments loan etchers for personal use). Don’t keep all your jewelry in one easy-to-find place.
Burglars and muggers hate light. Have all entrances to your home and garage well lit with fixtures out of reach from ground level. Install lights with motion sensors but be aware they may give false alarms. Use photocell controlled lighting. The lights come on at dusk and stay on until dawn and cost pennies per month. If you have an electrical or fuse box mounted outside, secure it with a strong lock.
Muggers and burglars don’t like to work in the open. If you have bushes or shrubs near any windows or doors, trim them down to clear the view from windows and trim them up 1-2 feet from the ground to eliminate potential hiding places. Trim shrubs around the garage doors.
Keep doors and windows locked at all times, even if you’re in the back yard.
Install a peep hole/wide angle viewer at a height convenient for everyone in the house.
Don’t rely on door handle locks. Experienced thieves can easily open these. Don’t rely on chain locks. They can be easily cut or pulled out. Install deadbolt locks in all outside doors. Make sure the lock has at least a 1” bolt or throw. If you already have a deadbolt, check the length of the kick plate screws. These screws should be at least 3” long to go into the frame. If there is a window next to or in the door, you should have a double cylinder deadbolt (requires a key from each side). That way, a burglar can’t break the window to gain access to the deadbolt lock. Keep the key nearby but accessible only to your family for emergency use. Patio sliding doors are particularly susceptible to break-ins. Use anti-slide bolts or a track bar to reduce track clearance.
For double hung windows, you can purchase locks & clamps that attach to the windows to restrict movement. An alternative is pinning. Drill a down-angled hole through both windows and insert an eyebolt or pin having a head. This is for emergency removal. Drill a second hole no more than 4 inches lower and the window may be opened for air circulation yet not allow access. Louvered windows allow easy access since the panes are easily removed. Replace them with a more secure window type. The most secure basement windows are made of glass block. Before changing basement windows, check fire codes and be aware of emergency exits. An exterior air conditioner should be securely mounted on the inside of the window frame. If possible, remove the air conditioner in cold weather.
There are many fine wireless or wired-in alarms and alarm systems on the market in a variety of price ranges. You could purchase a D-I-Y system or have a professional install one for you. Wireless systems run on batteries and will work during a power outage. Some wired in systems connect you to a central monitoring center through your phone line and have a monthly monitoring fee. Remember, an alarm system will only help you if you turn it on! If you are unable to invest in an alarm system, put alarm warning stickers on doors and windows.
Jim & Deb