Crime is on the rise in the United States. The economy has taken a downturn, law enforcement has been cast in a negative light (unfairly, for the vast majority in the profession, in my opinion), and calls to defund police continue to be heard from certain parties. No bail reforms have criminals returning to the street. Burglaries and home invasions continue to be a concern. How do you keep the place you call home secure and the ones you love most safe? Here are some commonsense ideas that are worth discussing.
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Lock Your Doors and Windows
Sounds simple, but many are lulled into a false sense of security. “It won’t happen here,” or “This is a good neighborhood’”, may make you feel better, but unfortunately are untrue. Many thieves will simply take the path of least resistance, check residences that are unsecured, gain entrance and look for high-value items that can be grabbed and converted to cash easily. This may include wallets, purses, jewelry, and smartphones. Once in your home, thieves will usually go to the bedrooms first to see what can be grabbed quickly. Many will be in and out in just a few minutes. Make it harder for them. Lock your doors.
Pro Tip: This includes your vehicle’s doors. People often leave wallets inside their vehicles. Lock your doors and if you do leave items in your vehicle, put them out of sight. I am aware that in certain areas where progressive prosecutors have declined to charge those committing criminal trespass of motor vehicles it is common to break windows and pry open trunks. I’m sorry, I have no answer for this other than to not go into those areas with vehicles. When business revenue and taxes decline because people no longer go into those areas because it is not safe, pressure will be put on those same prosecutors to take steps to return to some form of normalcy.
Have Solid Doors and Good Locks
It does no good to lock a door that can easily be forced open. Many front doors can easily be kicked or pushed in. Will this draw unwanted attention? Maybe, maybe not. It is quicker and faster to kick in a front door than go thru a window or be spotted lurking in someone’s back yard trying to come thru a patio door. Crooks know this.
The addition of a security door or a good deadbolt solidly set in a door’s frame can make a difference. Can they be defeated? Definitively, but sometimes a little deterrence is all that is necessary. It may just be a speed bump but make things difficult enough for an intruder and they will go elsewhere.
Consider an Alarm System
We live in a wondrous age of technology and alarm systems have never been easier to access, more affordable and of better quality. There are a number of companies that offer alarm services that will come to your house and install them for you. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, there are more options today than ever before for alarms and security cameras, many of which can be accessed by your smartphone.
Yes, I know, if society melts down, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) arrives and a lawless society without a rule of law (WROL) emerges, alarms will be of little use. However, until that time, they may be a good idea
Consider a Four-Legged Alarm System for Home Security
Owning a pet, especially a dog, is a big responsibility. Veterinarian bills, feeding, and caring for Fido are a big responsibility. There are many benefits from having pets, not the least of which are companionship and affection. Pet owners live longer. We love our furry family members, but they also can provide a valuable service.
Dogs bark. Some bark a lot. Some are big and look very menacing. After a career in the security field and speaking with numerous in-custody offenders, unless they are highly motivated or have some special intent (which is relatively rare) if there is either a dog or an alarm system present, it is simply easier to move on the next place than to deal with an alarm or a dog. Any dog. Sure, your 95-pound German Shepherd is going to be more menacing than your 20-pound Terrier, but once again, almost any dog will draw unwanted attention to them.
Dogs usually have better hearing, a better sense of smell, and a higher state of awareness than us lowly homo sapiens. My dogs “go switch” is on all the time and they can go from sound asleep to barking their brains out in seconds if they hear something they don’t like. Yes, this can be annoying sometimes. It is also extremely annoying to burglars.
Pro Tip: We love our feline friends, but unless you have a highly trained attack cat, cats will usually not deter someone trying to gain access to your home.
Pro Tip 2: Dogs do not take batteries or need electricity. Alarm systems don’t poop or need to go to the veterinarian. Pick your poison.
Know and Have a Relationship with Your Neighbors
This is an important one and often overlooked. I have lived all over the world in all kinds of setting including barracks, dorms, apartments, and standalone residents. In some settings, it is harder than in others to build relationships with those that live near you. I have had neighbors that looked as if they would rather kill me than say “hello” to me.
That said, I have always made an attempt to know and have good relations with my neighbors and for the most part, I have been at least partly successful and, in many cases, very successful. While in the US Army, more than one vehicle trespass was stopped in my unit by an alert paratrooper who knew somebody was poking around vehicles that were not theirs.
We currently have an informal neighborhood watch where I live and I am friends with most of my neighbors. We have a real community and look out for each other if one of us is away from our home. I certainly take other precautions as well, but good neighbors are invaluable. One of our neighbors thwarted a burglary because she saw an activity that didn’t make sense and took action. I am blessed with good neighbors who are good friends. Unfortunately, not everyone is in this situation but do the best you can to build bonds and community. All or some of us are more formidable than just one of us.
Have a Way to Defend Yourself and Loved Ones
This is a controversial subject, open to heated debate, and depends heavily on the laws of the jurisdiction you live. Many areas have the castle doctrine, which, briefly stated, that if someone enters your house illegally you have the right to defend yourself and your family. Other places have a duty to retreat, which basically says you must retreat, if at all possible, from an intruder. You must know the law and how it pertains to your situation where you live.
Home invasions are on the rise in the United States. If you do choose to defend yourself, have a plan, train, and prepare yourself. This may include personal combative, pepper spray, a Louisville Slugger, or other methods. One thing is for certain: If someone breaks into your residence at 2 am, they will not be impressed with your verbal judo. As horrible as it is to think about, have a plan in place before a dire situation arises. Know what you are and are not capable of doing. If your plan of self-defense is to retreat to a secure room and call the authorities, so be it, but take steps so that your plan has a chance of success.
Shed Some Light On It
Do you have outdoor lights and do they work? Have you thought about areas that may benefit from lights triggered by motion detectors? Do you keep a flashlight near your bed so you are able to easily access it and investigate something that goes bump in the night? Crooks love the dark. Light them up.
I Love Me Some Cul de Sacs
This tip is not for everyone, but it is something to think about. It is much harder to walk by or drive by a residence on a cul de sac without drawing attention than on a street with two-way traffic, either vehicular or on foot. “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted” is a military maxim. Unfortunately, the bad guys feel the same way and like to scope out possible targets. Unfamiliar people and vehicles draw more attention to cul de sacs. When was the last time you heard of a drive-by shooting on a cul de sac?
All Together Now
Some of the areas above may or may not be applicable to your personal situation. Although anyone alone is not a bad idea, if you can group several together to provide concentric rings of security, it makes you and your family safer.
A baddie looking for an easy payday may think twice after seeing a security door with a dog bowl next to it, an alarm sign in the front yard, and neighbors scrutinizing him or her when they roll into a neighborhood. If one of the above ideas is good, several together are great.
We spend a lot of time and money on being comfortable in our homes. We live with those we love. Every man or woman’s home is their castle. It makes sense to take steps to secure what you have worked hard for and hold dear. Good luck out there. And if you wanna read more about securing your home, take a look at our post Home Preparedness: Survival Things That Should Be In Everyone’s Home.