22 June 2015

10 Ways to Make Your Home Look and Feel Secure

We should all be allowed the freedom to feel safe in our own homes. Living in a community should be enough to give us that freedom, but often you cannot rely on the goodness of those around you to feel safe. The upside of this is that by examining crime statistics and patterns we can see that most criminals are predictable in their behaviour. Understanding criminal trends and patterns of behaviour can help us protect our homes and families so long as we take the steps to make our homes less vulnerable to intruders.

Here are 10 ways to make your home both look and feel safer, keeping you and your family protect and deterring criminals.

1. Lock up

It may sound obvious, but a lot of ‘break-ins’ are better described as ‘walk-ins’. A lot of the time owners don’t expect a crime to occur, or think their home won’t be made a target, and leave windows, doors, and crawl spaces open for thieves to enter through. Crimes that occur as a result of the owner’s carelessness are easily preventable, so ensure you always lock your home, even if you are only planning to be out for a short period of time.

2. Don’t show off

You can enjoy your 65 inch plasma screen TV for longer by ensuring you don’t leave the box out on the street for everyone to see. Fold up the boxes that new appliances come in, and place them discreetly in the recycling bin, or take them straight to the tip yourself. This also counts for when you are getting rid of old appliances, as people may expect that you’ve replaced them with something bigger and better. Make sure you also keep expensive items that are inside your home away from windows so that they are not visible from the street.

3. Trick burglars

Most break-ins occur during normal business hours because burglars expect homeowners to be at work, or out completing errands. Leaving a light, radio, or television on while you’re out of the house can deter possible intruders. Most burglars won’t take the risk of breaking into a home when they can hear sounds coming from inside. It’s also helpful to have a sign saying the property has a security monitoring system as this helps to further deter some burglars, who don’t want to run the risk of entering a property that may have a high tech security system installed.

4. Secure windows

Many people lock the front door of their home without giving much thought to their sliding doors and windows. Older style sliding doors are easy to pop out of their frames, louvre panels can be slipped out, and air conditioning units can be jimmied out. A good way to discover how easy your home is to break into is to try and break into it yourself (without breaking any windows). A rod blocking a sliding door from opening, or a nail stopping a window opening enough to gain access are both small measures you can make to stop an intruder from breaking in. Always keep all doors and windows locked and closed, even if they only lead out to the garden.

5. Look after your keys

The key under the flowerpot is a cliche, and way too easy for burglars to find. Thieves can also observe you or family members as you arrive home and retrieve the key, returning later to actually break-in. It’s actually much safer to leave your spare key with a trusted neighbour or nearby friend, and call them if you get locked out, rather than leaving it ‘hidden’ around the garden.

6. Landscape sensibly

Don’t allow criminals to hide as they break into your home. Trim shrubs that could double as hiding spaces as criminals jimmy windows open. Cut back any branches that could be climbed to give access to higher windows. Keep your entry area clear so that any intruders loitering near the door are made obvious and visible from the street. Consider using landscaping around the home that creates noise when trodden on, such as pebbles or gravel, to further prevent a burglar from making a quiet entry into your home.

7. Consult the experts

Your local police force will always have a good idea of any criminal activity that may be happening in your area, and might even offer a free home assessment on how you can upgrade your security. If you’re going away and don’t have any local friends and neighbours who can check up on your home while you’re gone, the police may be able to drive past and check on it while you’re away. If your suburb has a neighbourhood watch in place, this may also be helpful in gauging local criminal patterns and having someone check up on your home while away.

8. Don’t advertise when you’re going away

Criminals don’t take traditional holidays, and usually work extra hard over the holiday season. Having a friend collect your mail and newspapers while you’re away, leaving a car in the driveway, and leaving a few house lights on a timer system are all good ways to trick burglars into thinking you’re still at home while you’re away. You may also consider getting a friend to house sit while away for extra protection.

9. Get to know your neighbours

Crime is less likely to occur in close-knit communities, so whether you’re planning to stay for six months or sixty years, be friendly to your neighbours so that they are more likely to take care of your home and report any suspicious activity. Of course, don’t make this the only reason for befriending neighbours, but it’s a good thing to consider.

10. Deter burglars by looking difficult

There’s an old joke about two hikers in the wilderness that makes a salient point about securing your home from intruders. One hiker muses that he doesn’t have to outrun the bear to survive, he only has to outrun the other hiker. It’s a grim joke, but the same applies to home security in your neighbourhood.

Burglars prefer homes that look easy to break into. You don’t have to look like Fort Knox, but outward signs of security like window grilles and security doors, are all subtle, practical home improvements that make your home less attractive to would-be burglars.

So take the lessons from this article and make the measures to protect your home and family. Stay safe out there!

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