HOME, SAFE HOME

How to se­lect and en­sure a se­cure home

American Survival Guide - - CONTENTS - By Brian M. Mor­ris

Pro­fes­sional crim­i­nals are pre­dictable: If they think you are home, or if they per­ceive your home to be a “hard­ened tar­get,” they won’t chance it. They will simply move on to a home that poses less of a threat. In a per­fect world, you could simply hang up a “Be­ware of Dog” or an alarm com­pany sign and call it a day. The only prob­lem is that while pro­fes­sional crim­i­nals are pre­dictable, the world is full of ama­teurs. With the many un­sta­ble, un­in­tel­li­gent and un­pre­dictable meth-heads, gang-bangers and bot­tom-feed­ers who con­trib­ute to Amer­ica’s vi­o­lent crime and home in­tru­sion rates, your best bet to lower your risk of be­com­ing an­other statis­tic is to take a “holis­tic” ap­proach to your security. Be as proac­tive as you can and take mea­sures into your own hands to lower your chances of be­ing vic­tim­ized. But, guess what? There is some good news. Con­trary to what many security mon­i­tor­ing com­pa­nies tell you, you can take all the steps

A NEIGH­BOR­HOOD WITH AN AC­TIVE COM­MU­NITY WATCH IN­DI­CATES THAT THE RES­I­DENTS ARE PROAC­TIVE ABOUT KEEP­ING CRIME OUT AND THAT THEY CAN BE COUNTED ON TO BE PART OF THE SO­LU­TION OVER THE LONG HAUL.

needed on your own to pro­tect your­self and your prop­erty from these crim­i­nals. You don’t have to spend thou­sands of dol­lars on high-tech sur­veil­lance sys­tems and costly security mon­i­tor­ing con­tracts in or­der to be safe. By keep­ing the fol­low­ing in mind, you will take con­trol of your security and send a mes­sage to crim­i­nals to “keep walk­ing,” be­cause your prop­erty is not worth the risk of be­ing caught.

CHOOSE YOUR NEIGH­BOR­HOOD

Be­fore you sign a lease or pur­chase a home, be sure to spend a few hours on a Satur­day night near where you are con­sid­er­ing liv­ing. Drive through the neigh­bor­hood or sit in your car with the lights off, ob­serv­ing what type of hu­man traf­fic and ac­tiv­ity are preva­lent. You would be shocked at how much an area can con­trast from one time of day or day of the week to an­other. You can also stop by the lo­cal po­lice or sher­iff’s depart­ment and find out what kind of rep­u­ta­tion for il­le­gal or anti-so­cial ac­tiv­ity ex­ists in the area you are think­ing of set­tling in. An­other thing to look for is the pres­ence of com­mu­nity watch signs. A neigh­bor­hood with an ac­tive com­mu­nity watch in­di­cates that the res­i­dents are proac­tive about keep­ing crime out and that they can be counted on to be part of the so­lu­tion over the long haul. If you want, or need, to live in an ur­ban or sub­ur­ban lo­ca­tion, try to find a lo­ca­tion that has a thriv­ing econ­omy, a strong mid­dle class and a large pop­u­la­tion of young, ed­u­cated pro­fes­sion­als. These types of ar­eas en­joy the low­est over­all crime rates. It is also im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to the phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the prop­erty you are con­sid­er­ing mov­ing into. In semi-ur­ban and sub­ur­ban ar­eas, look for a house with a garage for off-street park­ing. If you are look­ing at con­dos or apart­ments, look for how well the grounds are lit and land­scaped. Is staff on site and available 24/7? What kind of pas­sive or ac­tive security mea­sures are in place? Does the fa­cil­ity have sur­veil­lance cam­eras, door­men, and rov­ing security or emer­gency call boxes in the park­ing lot? You can also take a look at the cars parked in the park­ing lots or garages. They are a def­i­nite

in­di­ca­tor re­gard­ing the af­flu­ence and life­styles of the res­i­dents. A gated com­mu­nity is of­ten an ad­van­tage in a sub­ur­ban setting—but it can also be a bit of a “pa­per tiger” if the crim­i­nals from whom you are try­ing to pro­tect your­self live within the gates. On the other hand, if your bank ac­count can handle it, there are gated com­mu­ni­ties that go far be­yond the sim­ple pres­ence of a gate with a pass­code. If you have the money, find a com­mu­nity that uses security cam­eras with 24/7 mon­i­tor­ing, as well as gate guards with di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the res­i­dents, armed security pa­trols and other security ameni­ties that help mit­i­gate the risk of crime. If you want to live on a larger piece of prop­erty, you are prob­a­bly look­ing at liv­ing in a sub­ur­ban or ru­ral com­mu­nity. Many ru­ral ar­eas in Amer­ica have been dev­as­tated by the re­duc­tion of available agri­cul­tural jobs, the exit of fac­to­ries and the loss of those in­come sources. The lack of jobs on such a large scale can bring drugs and crime to these ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. The bot­tom line is: When you choose the neigh­bor­hood you live in and the neigh­bors you live next to, choose wisely!

STRENGTH IN NUM­BERS

If you al­ready live in a com­mu­nity that has a prob­lem with crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, there are plenty of things you can do to up your security pos­ture; and with the help of neigh­bors and con­cerned cit­i­zens in your area, it won’t take much to dra­mat­i­cally in­crease the com­mu­nity’s

over­all security pos­ture. You should al­ways start by get­ting to know your neigh­bors. You will find that the great­est and most pow­er­ful tool you can have to lower the risk of be­com­ing a vic­tim to crime is the con­cerned and ob­ser­vant eyes of your neigh­bors. It never ceases to amaze

... YOUR BEST BET TO LOWER YOUR RISK OF BE­COM­ING AN­OTHER STATIS­TIC IS TO TAKE A “HOLIS­TIC” AP­PROACH TO YOUR SECURITY. BE AS PROAC­TIVE AS YOU CAN AND TAKE MEA­SURES INTO YOUR OWN HANDS TO LOWER YOUR CHANCES OF BE­ING VIC­TIM­IZED.

me how peo­ple can live next to some­one for decades and still know noth­ing about them. Even if you or your neigh­bors are not so­cia­ble types, you should at least make an at­tempt to main­tain a cor­dial re­la­tion­ship and to ex­change con­tact in­for­ma­tion, as well as travel plans. There are also plenty of other things you can do to bring peo­ple to­gether in the in­ter­est of se­cur­ing your home and com­mu­nity. You can join a lo­cal re­li­gious or so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion, be­cause they pro­vide an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to net­work with other likely security-minded peo­ple within the com­mu­nity. Lo­cal gun clubs and fir­ing ranges are an­other way to come to­gether with other peo­ple within your com­mu­nity who are as ded­i­cated as you are to mak­ing the area a safer place for ev­ery­one. The more you know the peo­ple who live around you, the more ef­fec­tive your outer security ring is go­ing to be. Some peo­ple are afraid to ini­ti­ate con­tact but are mo­ti­vated to help. They just don’t have the so­cial skills to make the first move. Don’t isolate these kinds of peo­ple, in­su­late them! Make the first move and start the con­ver­sa­tion about com­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity to make it a safer place. In ad­di­tion, if there is no neigh­bor­hood or com­mu­nity watch, con­tact the lo­cal law en­force­ment agency for as­sis­tance in get­ting one started. You will be sur­prised how many

peo­ple are will­ing to follow your lead but are re­luc­tant to take the first step.

A LIT­TLE HEALTHY PARA­NOIA GOES A LONG WAY

Put your para­noia to good use by proac­tively tak­ing the steps to se­cure your home, prop­erty and loved ones. Be very sus­pi­cious of strangers, es­pe­cially if they are ask­ing per­sonal ques­tions about you and fam­ily mem­bers or neigh­bors. If work crews and util­ity com­pa­nies are op­er­at­ing near your home, con­tact their re­spec­tive com­pa­nies to ver­ify the na­ture of their work and the per­son­nel as­signed to be at that site be­fore let­ting them into your house or onto the prop­erty. Many of these work­ers carry photo IDS, so use this op­por­tu­nity to ver­ify their iden­tity and in­tent. Be very cau­tious of sales­per­sons, poll­sters and other strangers present in your area. If a ve­hi­cle in the neigh­bor­hood looks sus­pi­cious, write down the li­cense plate num­ber, along with the car's color, make, model and dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. Alert po­lice im­me­di­ately. If some­thing looks or sounds sus­pi­cious, do not be afraid to con­tact the po­lice. When you are plan­ning on be­ing away from your home for more than a day or two, ar­range to have your mail picked up and your trash can rolled back to your house. If

you travel in the win­ter, have your drive­way plowed and walks cleared. Al­ter­na­tively, ask a neigh­bor to make foot­prints go­ing to and from your doors. In the sum­mer, ar­range to have your yard mowed pe­ri­od­i­cally so the grass never looks over­grown. These are all indicators crim­i­nals look for to de­ter­mine if any­one is at home. You can also pur­chase an in­ex­pen­sive light tim­ing sys­tem to con­trol lights through­out your house to give the ap­pear­ance that some­one is al­ways home. A dog is also an ex­cel­lent “thief-re­pel­lent”—but that doesn’t mean you need to own a Ger­man Shep­herd to get the job done. In fact, the sound or sight of any dog, re­gard­less of breed or size, will lower your risk of be­ing robbed. If you can’t have, or don’t want, a dog, you can buy a de­vice that “barks” loudly, both ran­domly and when­ever it senses move­ment. Crim­i­nals do not want to be de­tected. That is why the ma­jor­ity of home in­va­sions hap­pen be­tween 1:00 and 2:30 in the af­ter­noon— when most peo­ple are at work or school. Crim­i­nals also don’t want to be shot, so you would think a “Be­ware of Gun Owner” sign would be a de­ter­rent. In fact, the op­po­site is true: If you own guns, don’t ad­ver­tise them, or you might be tar­geted specif­i­cally for the pur­pose of steal­ing them. Whether you’re home or not, keep the house locked and the garage and out­build­ings se­cured. If your house keys are lost or stolen, or you’re mov­ing into a pre­vi­ously owned res­i­dence, re­place the locks im­me­di­ately. Many cars have an alarm but­ton on the key fob. Keep it near you at night and ac­ti­vate it in the event of a sus­pected prowler or breakin. It will at­tract your neigh­bors’ at­ten­tion and might even scare off the in­truder.

AN OUNCE OF PRE­VEN­TION

From the first steps of perime­ter pro­tec­tion—choos­ing the right neigh­bor­hood, join­ing with neigh­bors to share over­watch re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and hard­en­ing your home to crim­i­nals—it’s up to you to set your­self up for suc­cess­fully cre­at­ing a place that is un­likely to be bro­ken into. You’ll find that your peace of mind will be worth ev­ery ounce of ef­fort you ex­pend.

© GETTY IM­AGES

© GETTY IM­AGES

i Right: De­feat bolt cut­ters by us­ing a bolt cut­ter-re­sis­tant lock from your home im­prove­ment store.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Be­low: A door is only as se­cure as its lock­ing mech­a­nism. Re­place your old, flimsy locks with a more se­cure, re­li­able and durable lock­ing sys­tem.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Slid­ing glass doors are no­to­ri­ously easy to break into. You can in­crease the odds this won’t hap­pen to you if you re­in­force the door with a steel bar or 2x4 door jamb.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h If you’re mov­ing, stop by the lo­cal po­lice or sher­iff’s depart­ment and find out what kind of crime ex­ists in the lo­ca­tion you are think­ing of set­tling in.

i Right: Neigh­bors keep­ing an eye out for one an­other’s prop­erty is one of the best things to do to lower the chances of some­one break­ing into your home.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Start the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing about com­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity to make it a safer place.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h While this type of warn­ing of­ten works for pro­fes­sional crim­i­nals, the world is full of ama­teurs.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Above: It is smart to keep a safe in your home to se­cure your valu­ables. Be sure you se­cure it to the wall or floor so a thief can’t simply take it.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Back up your sur­veil­lance video with “cloud”-based mem­ory, so you’re sure to have the evidence, if needed.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h For a small in­vest­ment, you can buy a set of in­door/ out­door video cam­eras that con­nect di­rectly with your smart phone.

© GETTY IM­AGES

i Right, bot­tom: While the sound or sight of any dog will lower your risk of be­ing robbed, it can’t hurt to own a dog that looks as if it could eat a crim­i­nal for an af­ter­noon snack!

© GETTY IM­AGES

i Right, top: When re­turn­ing home, have your keys out and ready to un­lock the door so you spend as lit­tle time as pos­si­ble in this po­ten­tially vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion.

© GETTY IM­AGES

h Near left: Ask your neigh­bor to hold your mail or re­turn your trash can from the curb. Ar­range to have your grass mowed while you’re away to pre­vent sig­nal­ing crim­i­nals that you are away from home. h Far left: This “smart” door­bell al­lows you— from a con­nected de­vice—to see and talk to any­one who rings your bell, giv­ing a would-be thief the im­pres­sion you are home.

© GETTY IM­AGES

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.