“What can I do to make my home less of a target?” I get this question at least once in each of my classes, no matter what we are talking about in that particular class, this question always comes up. It’s actually a great question and many people have no idea what it means to make their home more secure and less likely to be targeted by criminals.
While it’s true that criminals at large (like my pun?) may not have a certain type of house to go after and may just target at random, many of them certainly have looked at your house before and made assumptions, plans, and ideas as to whether or not your house looks like prey. Burglaries happen every 15 seconds in the United States and over ¼ of the time someone is home. This is scary because not only is your house vulnerable in general but you might also be home! In our NRA Personal Protection In The Home class we discuss some ways that you can prevent this from happening and work with you on many expanded topics, but I wanted to provide a glimpse on some simple things you can do to make your home less attractive to criminals.
Lighting is the first thing most people think of, and for good reason. By having a good exterior lighting system, preferably with motion sensors and bright floodlights you can deter and detect someone entering your personal space around your house. More importantly you should have your entry and exit ways always lit so that you know what or who is around when you get home in the dark, or need to look outside at night. Now I am not going to spend too much time here as the trend in criminal behavior is now shifting towards daylight robberies because there is less risk for the criminals.
Alarm Systems are probably the best deterrent for criminals. Whether its day or night if you have a working alarms system with audible sirens, chimes, and signs you are usually going to be skipped over by the common criminal. Just because you have an alarm system however doesn’t mean you should get complacent. We recommend you stay alert, be aware of your surroundings and have a plan.
Maintaining a clean yard is probably one of the most overlooked of the prevention methods. Many people leave valuables in the yard, exposed or clustered about. If you can cover up, put away or hide these items you can often deter prying eyes who will make assumptions that your house has many goods inside. You should also keep all of your hedges, bushes and trees trimmed back below your windows and away from your entry and exit points of the house. Don’t have a huge hedge or tree next to your garage door, front or back doors. Someone could take advantage of its size and conceal him or herself behind it. Another part of maintaining a clean yard is making sure you aren’t placing other large obstacles in your line of sight from the house. If you have piles or toys, or equipment that someone can hide behind, they will. So keep your yard in an orderly fashion and help minimize some risk.
Pets, well dogs specifically are a huge deterrent even if they are small. A bark is easily one of the best warnings to both you and anyone knocking, or near your house. Many people are afraid of dogs and when they hear barking, often they cannot determine its size until it is seen. Place some chewed up toys near the front and back doors, or somewhere visible so that you remind people there is a dog here. Even if you don’t have a dog its easy to get a toy and beat it up. Many folks with small dogs often ask me how they can make their dog seem bigger. The answer is just buy a large dog bowl, chain, or toy and beat it up a bit. Now your house appears to have a large animal. Human nature is to relate items we see to things we know, or think we know. The subconscious brain will tell someone walking up to your house and seeing a hug bowl, or chain that a large dog lives here. Just like seeing toys in the yard makes you assume children live here. Simple steps like these can help you keep your home safer.
Technology can make a big difference nowadays. Timers and sensors are the greatest yet simplest invention for the person who wants to appear home while away. You can buy timers from $5 on up and can schedule times for your lights, radio, TV, garage door and just about anything else electronic to turn on or off, go up or down, make noise, etc.… Many of these even connect to your smart phone now and you can control them remotely. Look into one online or at your local hardware store and play around with how these could help you. *Just make sure to use the password and encryption options so that someone else cant use these against you.
Finally I will leave you with a few words of wisdom. If possible, keep a LOCKED car in the driveway, home or not. (Make sure there are no valuables inside and if possible take your garage door opener out of the car) If someone is home, most people will avoid your house for fear of confrontation. Not all criminals are this way so beware but usually a car in the driveway, or even a few lets people know someone is in there. Be careful whom you tell about your personal security, or travel plans. Not everyone needs to know. Only tell a trusted person who you know won’t share information and has an interest in keeping you safe.