Beefing Up Home Security
When we were kids our folks rarely locked the front door to our home. Consequently, we could have never been classified as “latch-key children” since we never had to carry a key.
Times have changed and an “open door” policy is now the rare exception and a locked door the rule. According to statistics presented by the U.S. Department of Justice, there are more than 8,600 break-ins daily – that’s one every thirteen seconds! Most unlawful entry is through doorways and about 50 percent of those are through doors left unlocked. More than half (51%) of break-ins occur during daylight, where 49% occur after dark.
What follows are some suggestions that will help beef up security on your home front and give you and your family greater piece of mind.
Install a deadbolt: According to law enforcement statistics, most burglaries are the result of forcible entry. There are many steps that you can take that will make your home less desirable to a would-be prowler. The first step is simple – lock your door! Unfortunately, a plain keylock will not provide the level of security needed to prevent a break-in. All exterior doors – including the door from the house into the garage – should have a deadbolt with a full one-inch throwbolt. However, a good keylock and deadbolt at exterior doors is only part of the solution. Equally important is the integrity of exterior doors and frames. Exterior doors should be of solid construction (not hollow core); measure a minimum of one and three-quarter inches thick and have secure frames.
A latch-key-kid alternative: Some parents are reluctant to send their children off to school with a house key for fear that it will get lost or that a duplicate will be made unknowingly. Consequently, they leave doors unlocked. This presents an especially dangerous condition that leaves both your home and children vulnerable. If you are reluctant to give your child a key, consider a new state-of-the-art alternative – a keyless deadbolt. Several leading lock manufacturers have developed user-friendly and easy-to-install substitutes for the traditional keyed version of this locking device. Many of these devices have a numeric touchpad that can be programmed with a four-to-eight digit security code. Some models may even be operated by computers, smart phones and tablets. Most models are battery operated and have both a visual and audible low battery alert. Since the code can be changed as often as you wish, this technology is especially suited for service technicians or other personnel that require access but whom you don’t want to have a key.
Improve exterior lighting: An intruder’s greatest fear is being seen. In fall and winter as daylight grows short, crime is on the increase as intruders have a better chance of not being seen. It’s your job not to give them a place to hide by making sure that the entire perimeter of your home – especially areas with doors and windows – has good exterior lighting. In addition to improving safety and security, good exterior lighting will create a psychological barrier that will make your home less desirable by a would-be intruder. Keeping the perimeter of your home lit from dusk till dawn can be an expensive proposition. Therefore, consider installing motion-activated lights that only turn on when activity is detected. They are an effective alternative that won’t bust your utility budget and will still provide great security. New LED technology offers the best in energy-efficient exterior lighting.
Keep bushes trimmed: Thick bushes and densely landscaped areas around your home provide excellent locations for prowlers to hide. Regular pruning and thinning of bushes and trees will not only improve the appearance of your home, it will provide fewer hiding places. Also, tree branches that overhang a roof can serve as an excellent conduit from the ground to a second floor window for a tree-climbing prowler.
Glass can shatter your security: Locks that are located within arm’s length from glass panels and sidelights require glass block, grates or grilles. An alternative, where building codes allow, is to install double cylinder deadbolts that must be opened with a key on both sides. Many brands of sliding patio doors can be especially vulnerable access points in a home since they are lifted into position when installed and can be easily lifted out. Adjusting roller height to limit clearance, installing a latch at the track-to-frame connection or laying a wooden dowel into the track is effective means of preventing a sliding patio door breach.
Maintain that “lived-in” look: In the movie Home Alone, an inadvertently abandoned child used a host of creative pranks to give his home the appearance that it was occupied by his entire family. Although some of the techniques that he used were a bit outlandish, maintaining the appearance of occupancy at all times can prevent unlawful entry. Use automatic timers to operate different lights and appliances in different locations at different times and at varying intervals. Have a trusted friend or neighbor retrieve newspapers and mail or have them discontinued if you plan to be away for a while. It’s even a good idea to have them use your garbage cans and place them out for collection. And don’t forget to have someone shovel snow if you plan to be away for the winter.
Keep an eye on your neighborhood: According to law enforcement, neighbors’ watching out for each other is the most effective method of crime prevention. Host a Neighborhood Watch get-started meeting for your block and invite local law enforcement to assist with planning, education, and training and prevention techniques.
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