Improving your Home Security

How to Improve Home Security While You’re Away:

The typical family spends an average of 6-10 hours away from home every day. Kids are at school, parents are working, and the house is empty. On top of that, there are vacations, holiday trips, and other miscellaneous events that will take you out of your home each year. This is when the majority of all burglaries occur. About 30% of all burglaries are done through an open or unlocked door or window. Be sure your doors and windows are closed and locked when you leave the house — every time! Don’t leave a note on your door announcing you’re not home.

Years ago, before cell phone technology, people would leave a note on their door to let a deliveryman, friend or neighbor know they were gone and when they’d be back. It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but don’t be tempted to do it. Also, don’t leave a note saying “we’re out back” or “I’m in the garden”. Burglars will get into your home through an unlocked door, rob you blind, and get out without you ever knowing it until you go back inside. When you’re away on vacation, there are a number of things that can keep your house from looking so empty: Have a neighbor get your mail and check on your home. Give someone you trust a key to your home so they can get your mail every day or two and pick up any papers that you might get. Burglars take note of things like papers piling up or mailboxes that won’t close because there’s too much mail in them (and often, they’ll take the mail, too, looking for checks). Offer your house-sitter a mid-day snack in exchange for them hanging around for an hour or so.

If someone is watching your house when your friend comes by, sees them get the mail, go in, and immediately leave, that’s still a red flag that your house is empty. Likewise, don’t leave your garbage can at the road for pickup unless you ask your neighbor to bring it in for you after the trash truck has run. A garbage can left at the road for days at a time is a sure sign of an empty house, too. Set your lights on a timer. Buy a few timers that plug into your wall outlet to plug a few lamps and maybe a radio into. Lights going on and off throughout the house with a little noise will give the illusion that someone is there, and thieves will be less likely to target your home. You can actually pick up some programmable power strips that will turn certain outlets on and off randomly so no patterns are established, thus making it harder for a burglar to know anything. Close your blinds and curtains. If it’s hard to see into your house, it’s hard to know if someone is home. Coupled with the lights on timers, nobody will ever know if you’re there. Don’t broadcast your vacation on social media. This happens way too much.

I understand you’re excited to share your vacation photos with your friends online, but what you don’t realize is at least one of those extra 400 people on your friends list may not be as good of a friend as you’d like to think. They see you’re out of town (and possibly even out of country), they know where you live, and they take advantage of that information. Don’t announce that you’re going on vacation and don’t post a bunch of pics while you’re on vacation. Wait until you get back if you want to share. Improving Security While You’re at Home: Most burglars won’t attempt to rob your house if they know you’re at home, but you should still stay alert! That guy walking up your driveway that looks like a salesman may be ready to put a gun to your head.

Maybe not, but stay on your toes anyway. Also, if you’re outside and you see a car drive by or someone walking through the neighborhood, stop, look and wave! You’ll learn who lives in your neighborhood by their face and the car they drive (and might even make a new friend). Once you learn who lives in your neighborhood, you’ll learn who doesn’t belong. If a burglar drives slowly through your neighborhood, and nobody turns a head, they’ll keep doing it to find the perfect house — and may hit multiple houses in the same night (or day). When you’re settling in for the night, be sure to lock all of your windows. If you tend to open your windows through the day in the spring, autumn or any other time of year, be sure to close and lock them at night. You might even invest in some adjustable window security bars that keep your windows from opening by locking into the window frame. When you’ve decided you don’t need to go outside any more for the evening, go ahead and engage all the locks on the door. You can even install one-way deadbolts on your doors. These don’t have an outside plate, so from the outside, you’d never know there was a lock, and you definitely can’t access it.

Not enough security for you? Use one of these “door jammers” to help keep your door closed. Also, remember to block your patio doors from opening by laying a board or pipe down in the track. If you have a garage, engage the manual locks on your garage doors. If you don’t have them, you can buy side-mounted indoor locks and install them for some additional security just in case a burglar gets by your electronic garage-door opener. Another tip is to frost, glaze or otherwise cover your garage windows so burglars can’t see in to tell if your car is gone or not. You can do this with a simple can of glass frosting spray — and it’s quick and easy! Install a peephole in the door separating the house from the garage.

If you hear suspicious sounds, you can check without opening the door. Holiday Home Security Tips: Don’t let your trash give you away! When you make a major purchase, don’t leave the big box out by the curb for pickup — it’s a huge red flag for burglars. Break the box down with a razor knife and put it into a garbage bag (preferably an opaque dark colored one so nobody can see anything inside the bag).

While it’s tradition to open your blinds and curtains to show off your Christmas trees and decorations, I’ll repeat what I said earlier — keep them closed! With your blinds and curtains wide open and your whole house lit up with Christmas lights and displays, it becomes even easier for a burglar to see into your home. If you’re going to display your lights, only do it while you’re at home and awake! General Tips for Better Home Security: Break into your own home. You should know where your house is most vulnerable, so try to exploit that. If you are successful in breaking in, imagine how much easier it would have been for a professional burglar. Now take that knowledge and fortify that area.

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