Your home – it’s your place. No one wants their home violated by thieves or home invaders. These days, the risk for a break-in seems to be growing. So what can you do to deter such activity?
It’s simpler than you think. A burglar can enter any home given enough time and desire. Your job is to make it unappealing enough they move on to another home.
First line of defense: Secure your place while you are away. It seems almost insultingly simple. Despite that, many overlook the simplest of things. Check windows to be sure they are latched and locked. Check exterior doors, particularly those that may go out the side of your home or into the garage. These doors should latch when closed and the locks engage without force. If not, call a handyman to have windows, locks and door adjusted to operate properly. Even the best locks can’t do their job if the door jamb is damaged or weak. Have the handyman install longer screws that screw into the 2 x 4 inside the door frame so the striker plates can do their job correctly. Most striker plates are secured to the door jamb with short screws that thread into a thin piece of wood. Use double cylinder deadbolts on door with glass panels. That way if the burglar tries breaking the glass and reaching inside to unlock the door, he will still need a key. Keep the key close by where you can reach it to unlock the door in case of a fire. Place padlocks on gates and storage sheds. Don’t leave the garage remote control on the dashboard of your unlocked car.
Next: Lighting. The front and rear doors of virtually all homes have some sort of light fixture. Well lit areas around these entry points allow you and your neighbors to see if someone is waiting to enter your home through one of these doors. As side benefit is the house looks as if someone may be home. There are a wide variety of fixtures that feature things like motion detection, dual or variable brightness and day/night automatic sensitivity. Many of these types of fixtures are so automatic so you don’t to be home when it’s time to turn them on. One caveat, avoid intensely bright lights. They cast strong shadows that someone could hid in. If the lights so bright that you cannot look directly at them, neighbors will not look at them either, defeating the purpose of exterior lighting.
A variety of motion sensing dual brightness fixtures.
Next: Landscaping. Large shrubs, low hanging tree limbs and such can provide an area for a burglar to hide behind. Walk out 20 feet or so from the front of your home and look back at the front or rear of your home. Can you see the door easily? If not, it’s time to trim. If you have to have shrubbery close to the property, keep it low and perhaps plant things that have thorns such as Holly shrubs or roses. That will deter someone from attempting to hide behind the landscaping. Around the property, try and keep large plantings away from gates or electrical service boxes. This will keep these areas in view discouraging the potential burglar from having access to these areas. Shrubbery should be trimmed to stay below the level of windows for the same reason.
If you find the need to keep a spare key for the entrance to your home outside, don’t hide it under the front door mat, a rock in the garden or even inside the electrical service box. Thieves know all about these places to find your key. Instead, purchase a lock box from any hardware store and place the key inside the lock box. Lock boxes can be secured to hose bibbs, chain link posts and such. This will provide access to the key for friends and neighbors as long as they have the combination to the lock box. You can change the combination should you feel the need to prevent someone you wanted to grant a one time access from coming back later to enter without your knowledge.
Automatic timers to control a radio or interior lights should have the feature of variable on and off settings. This will keep someone who may be watching from seeing a pattern of seeing things come on and off at the same exact time every day. A radio playing in the home works better than lights alone. There will always be someone who tries to ring the doorbell to see if you are home. For the most part, they will just move on to the next home. A good handyman can install these timers into a wall switch box so you don’t end up with extension cords everywhere.
All these steps are highly effective and cost very little to implement. There is little need to subscribe to expensive monitoring or the purchase of a large dog and the associated costs of owning such an animal if you do these few things. Of course, if you feel you are in a high risk area or have expensive valuables, monitoring may be a great backup to all of the other things listed above.
A good handyman can check doors and windows as well as install locks and lighting. Don’t wait for trouble. The cost of implementing these measures is small compared to the hassles of dealing with police, insurance companies and the replacement of the stolen items. Then there is your own personal safety to consider also.
Stay safe! -Mr.Fix It Mike