Defense Against Crime

05/05/2009

HOME INVASIONS – Part 3 – Defensive strategies – Securing YOUR House (i)

skylinkhomesecurity_2036_2286264If you Google “Recent Home invasions” You’ll see headlines like

 I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but 1 of every 5 homes will experience a break-in or home invasion this year. This is based on current US Crime Statistics.  That’s over 2,000,000 homes!  Count the number of homes on your street, one of them WILL BE A TARGET. Most people only begin about making their home secure after a burglary has occurred in their neighborhood.  This will include your home, UNLESS you decide to act.

The goal of a series is to introduce you to residential security system countermeasures to reduce your chances of being a criminals  next victim. We gave have been using progressive layers of protection to accomplish this goal. Imagine four concentric circles around your house, with your family and your most valuable possessions at the center. The interior of your home is the second layer, the exterior shell of your home is the third, and the property around your home is the fourth.  In this article, we are going to examine the third layer of your home and things you can do to make it less appealing to a burglar.

 It has been declared that burglars only need about 60 seconds to break into most homes. Recent FBI statistics claim that only one out of every four burglaries involve forced entry. The easiest way for a criminal to get into your house is just to kick-in your door! The FBI says every 12 seconds a home is invaded by going right through the front or back door. Most burglars enter homes through an open or unlocked window or door. By making it more difficult for intruders to get into your residence, you can greatly reduce your chances of being a robbery victim. The more a burglar has to work to get into your home, or the more likely the burglar thinks he may get caught the less chance you have of becoming his victim.

 To establish how secure your home is, think like a burglar. This past weekend I had the chance to just ride around several middle class and upper middle class subdivisions looking at all the things that people do wrong.  If you get a chance just go in your yard and take a good look at your house. From the outside of your home, consider how difficult it would be to break in. If you locked yourself out, could you easily break in or climb in through an unlocked window? If you answered yes, then a burglar could answer yes also. Carefully observe any items or objects in your yard that could offer assistance to a would-be thief. Are there any items lying around your home that could actually entice a burglar? A ladder propped up beside your garage could offer easy access to a second floor window. A tool such as a screwdriver or hammer left outside could be used to break a window or pry open a window or door. A privacy fence or large trees and shrubs could provide cover for a burglar while he attempts to break in.

 Here are some additional tips

  • Always lock your doors and gates, even if you have to go just around the corner. Keep your garage closes and locked and also the door that goes from the garage to the house. Secure your sliding glass doors to prevent them from being lifted out of their track.  You may want to have an additional lock on the garage door. A locksmith told me that the standard garage door lock is easy to pick.
    • Be mindful of the types of , locks and padlocks used in securing your doors, garage doors and fence gates. These should be of the best quality. Solid core doors, dead bolts and hardened shackle padlocks should be considered. Depending on the level of threat and on location (e.g., isolated homes), consideration should also be given to installing burglar proofing and security doors/garage doors and reinforced glass where needed. (look at our blog on Lock Bumping)
  • Speaking of secure Doors
    •  Choose metal exterior doors. If this is not possible, you should choose a solid wood door instead of a composite one. · Make sure your door hinges are located inside so doors can’t be removed from the outside. · If your mail slot is in your door, make sure a hand can’t reach through the slot to the doorknob or locks.
    • For sliding glass doors, install a device that secures both the sliding and stationary panels of the door by pinning them together where the frames overlap.
    • Most realtors will tell you to change your locks when you move into a new or existing home. You never know who had access to the home or who may still have keys to it.
    • Consider reinforcing your door frames.
  • Speaking of secure Windows
    • Don’t use crescent or “butterfly” latches to secure double-hung windows. They can be pried open easily with a knife. Use a do-it-yourself nail or bolt window stop instead. Drill the hole for the stop at a slight downward angle to prevent a burglar from jiggling the pin out of the hole under pressure.
    • Laminated-glass windows, which can only be cut from one side, foil another burglary method: Quietly cutting glass to gain entry. Laminated security glass products may be specified for virtually any application, regardless of concurrent requirements for heat-transfer, visibility, or aesthetics. They are especially appropriate for front-door windows and sidelights.
    • One ill-advised “security” treatment is the application of film to windows. Window films have never passed tests necessary to certify them as resistant to forced entry, and windows with a daylight application of film—one that is unanchored and adhered to the glass surface only—are actually easier to break than their unfilmed counterparts.
    • Windows that are never used—unless they are a means of escape during a fire—should be fastened permanently shut.
    • Consider installing window alarms.
  •  Keep skylights closed and locked. This is a common access point for criminals.
  • Do not leave ladders or tools lying around your house as these may be used to gain access to your house or apartment.
  • Be sure that there are no large trees with branches overhanging your house that could be used by criminals to climb onto the roof or balcony.
  • Surveillance is a weapon that may be used against criminals who are less likely to act if their actions can be witnessed. Shrubberies should be trimmed away and large plants and trees avoided (as they provide a hiding place for criminals).  
  • Consider fencing your property in such a way that it is possible to see through. Walls or solid fencing provide unlimited cover for criminals once they are in your yard. Don’t forget to add a “Beware of Dog” sign.
  • Close your blinds when you are home in order to avoid being observed by potential criminals.
  • Avoid putting your name next to street numbers. This will prevent a would-be burglar of looking up your name in the telephone book and using his/her telephone number to check if someone is home. However, the house numbers should be clearly visible for Emergency personal such as police, firemen and paramedics to easily identify your home in an emergency
  • Lighting is an important crime deterrent. Your home should be well lit. Consider a combination of photoelectric lighting (which automatically switches itself on at dusk and off at dawn) and motion-sensitive lighting (which switches itself on the instant an intruder steps into its range) to cover strategic areas. Make sure the lights are positioned at a height that intruders cannot easily disable them. Electronic timers that turn internal lights on and off at different times are also a useful crime deterrent. 12·
  • Don’t try hide your house key outside under plants or under rugs. If a family member habitually loses or forgets his or her key, develop a better strategy—perhaps giving a set of keys to a trustworthy neighbor, or hanging the key on a long chain that a teen can wear around the neck. There are key hiders, but some are more obvious than others unless you put them where you have the real things.

A home invasions can have extremely serious consequences for the victims. As we cannot expect the police or security to be constantly guarding our properties and us, it becomes necessary for us to take the initiative and adopt defensive strategies to minimize the risk of violent victimization.  

Our Next series will look at what steps to do just in case robbers do make it inside your home.

By Victor Swindell, owner of PepperEyes.com, a division of Swindell Enterprises. PepperEyes.com is dedicated to assist those people who are unwilling to become a victim and are taking responsibility to protect themselves, their cars, or their possessions with our pepper spray, stun guns, and other personal protection products.

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2 Comments

  1. […] which may be considered include video surveillance cameras placed at strategic positions. In our next series we will discuss these systems and the different types […]

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    Pingback by HOME INVASIONS – Part 2 – Defensive strategies – Alarms Systems (iii) « Personal Protection and Security — 21/05/2009 @ 2:12 PM

  2. […] that a regular key lock can’t.  Since I’ve already covered what steps to take to prevent your door from being kicked in, I’ll just refer you back to that.If you have glass windows on your doors or next to your […]

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    Pingback by HOME INVASIONS – Part 4 – Defensive Strategies – Internal Defenses « Personal Protection and Security — 04/06/2009 @ 1:24 PM


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