Did you every hear the old expression, “Trust in God, but lock your door”? Not only has that adage been passed on from one generation to the next, but it’s a lyric in an old Kenny Rogers song, and you’ll occasionally see it on bumper stickers. Although keeping your home safe from intruders is a serious topic, that old saying reminds us, in a humorous way, that we shouldn’t take home security for granted.
In addition to high tech approaches to home protection, there are also easy and inexpensive steps you can take to discourage burglars. Although many of these safety measures seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at how many homeowners forget to lock doors, leave lights on, and take other simple precautions when they’re away. Here’s a handful of smart steps you can take to substantially reduce the risk of having your home broken into.
- Make a habit of locking your doors and windows. While this piece of advice may sound like a “no-brainer,” many reports of home break-ins mention an unlocked window or door as the point of entry for burglars. The first thing you can do to tighten up security and feel safer in your own home is to increase your awareness of potential threats, and emphasize to your family the importance of taking precautions. The ideal scenario involves reinforcing positive habits, without instilling a sense of fear. After all, your home should be a peaceful place where your family always feels safe and comfortable.
- Shine a light on the problem. You would think that everyone would leave lights on when they’re not home at night, but — for one reason or another — many don’t. Keeping your home well lit, both inside and out, is a good strategy for thwarting crime. To save money on energy bills and to avoid the appearance of always having your lights on, you can purchase inexpensive lighting timers. Leaving a radio or TV on when you’re not home, or connecting it to a timer, is another way to create the illusion that someone is home.
- Barking dogs are a known burglar deterrent, as are “Beware of Dog” signs. The actual dogs are obviously more effective than the warning signs, but many people bring their pets to a boarding facility when they’re away on vacation. One solution is to arrange for a house sitter or an on-site pet care service to stop by. If you have a trusted neighbor or family member who can feed and walk your dog while you’re away (maybe, water your plants, too!), then your canine security guard can remain on duty in your absence. Many communities also have licensed and bonded pet care services that can stop by and take care of your dogs, every day, eliminating the need for your pets to be away from home.
- Landscaping features can be a risk factor. Be aware that high bushes and hedges can make it easier for burglars to hide while breaking into windows. Keep shrubs and branches trimmed back as much as possible to eliminate this chink in your security plan. If you’re still concerned about the effect of bushes on home security, then make sure your window locks are sturdy and fully functional. Inexpensive battery-operated window and door alarms are also an option.
One method that can virtually eliminate the problem of forgetting to lock your doors and turning on lights is to have a high-tech security system installed. This technology enables you to activate locks, lights, and even thermostats from any location with your cell phone, laptop, or other mobile device. While these automated systems and monitored alarms incur a monthly service fee, the peace of mind and added control you get over your home environment is often more than worth the expense.