Whether you have a monitored home security system or not, here are some helpful tips and suggestions for making your home more secure and less inviting to unwanted intruders. It’s often the simple tips and tricks that work the best. When examining your home for security holes, make sure that you do a complete job and leave nothing unnoticed. Don’t let the intruder find the security holes for you!
This page covers security items for new homeowners along with using deadbolts to secure doors, being creative with landscaping, better securing windows, teaching young children about safety and security, what to do when going out of town on a trip or vacation, and how to protect your home with outdoor lights.
New to home:
Have all of your door locks replaced and make sure you are the only person who has the new keys. When you get additional keys made make sure that the key maker doesn’t “accidentally” make any extra copies. Never leave a key hidden outside under a doormat, above a door frame or overhang, or in a “fake” rock! This is a very dangerous practice and most burglars know how to look under potted plants, under doormats and above doorways.
Keep an updated street map in your car. Besides finding new ways around traffic jams, you’ll also be able to find an escape route if you ever find yourself in an undesirable area of town.
Consider seeing if a police officer can stop by your home and give you a home security inspection as well as any advice and potential problem areas in the community. Most police departments will gladly set up an appointment and do a security review for free.
Install double cylinder deadbolts in doors instead of single cylinder sliding locks. Most sliding locks can easily be defeated by breaking a window in or next to the door and then reaching around and sliding the bolt. In the need of making a quick escape from the house, have a spare deadbolt key in a secure place near each door, but out of sight and reach from any window. See this page at Intruder Prevention for more information about the differences between single cylinder and double cylinder deadbolt locks.
Avoid having trees and large bushes next to or touching your home, particularly by the doors and windows. Large bushes give an intruder excellent concealment from neighbors and passing cars, especially at night. Trees may not appear threatening, but to a lightweight or agile burglar it’s an easy way to the often unlocked upstairs windows. Instead, plant thorny rose bushes or holly bushes with their thick and sharp leaves under your windows. Most burglars will move on to another home and avoid getting cut and tangled with such plants.
Use window pins or window locks to properly secure the windows. This is especially helpful for the upper floor windows since the majority of people only use a security system on the main level. Burglars know about these trends. It’s very easy for an intruder to carry along a collapsible ladder and instantly have access to the unprotected upper windows. A simple window pin will force a burglar to risk breaking the glass or forcing open the window with a crowbar. Either break-in option will likely wake up and alert the residents as well as keep the robber exposed for a longer time on the ladder.
Take the child on a walk through the neighborhood community and have them meet the local people and business owners. Explain to them where they should go and what to do if an emergency happens. If a child can dial a telephone number from memory, then they can operate most of today’s home security systems.
Today’s security system control panels are very user friendly and it only takes the push of a few buttons to change the settings from Home to Instant to Off. And of course, make sure that the children can dial 9-1-1 and give enough information to the operator if an emergency were to happen at home.
Going out of town:
Let trusted neighbors know when you’ll be gone and how to reach you in an emergency. Arrange to have your neighbors pick up your mail and newspapers.
The Post Office and newspaper companies have many low income workers who could come across your notices to stop delivery. In times of need any one of them might make a quick buck by informing others of your planned departure. Don’t give them that chance!
Make sure that you have a few lights on timers that closely resemble the real evening rituals in your home.
Turn down the volume for your telephones and answering machine. Most of these can easily be heard outside when they’re on their normal volume settings. A crafty burglar may sit outside your home and call your house, listening for movement and the ringing phone to determine if anybody is home or not.
Outdoor flood lights:
Night intruders are especially fearful of two things – light and noise. A few strategically placed motion-activated flood lights will cover the outside of most doors and windows around your home. Be especially careful of any small bathroom or laundry room windows that may be hiding in a dark area outside. Burglars and robbers sometimes love to enter through there knowing that most security systems (if any) would most likely be monitoring the main doors and windows. Be sure to at least place a night light in those rooms if the outside windows aren’t illuminated by any motion-activated outdoor lights.
If you have a security system, install a strobe light on the outside. At night this will quickly draw attention to your home and have the intruder run for cover. You can also install a siren outside, but too many false alarms will create angry neighbors and the “cry wolf” syndrome.