Experienced criminals are somehow predictable, and if they believe you are at home or if they believe your home is a hard target, they will not take the risk. They will simply relocate to a less dangerous residence.
In an ideal world, you could simply hang a “Beware of Dog” or an alarm company sign and be done with it. The only problem is that while experienced criminals are predictable, the world is full of inexperienced criminals.
With so many unstable, unintelligent, and unpredictable meth-heads, gang-bangers, and bottom-feeders contributing to America’s violent crime and home invasion rates, your best bet is to take a complete approach to your security. Be as proactive as possible and take steps to reduce your chances of being victimized.
However, guess what?
There is some good news as well.
Contrary to what many security monitoring companies claim, you can take all of the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your home from these criminals on your own.
To be safe, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on high-tech surveillance systems and expensive security monitoring contracts.
By remembering the following, you will regain control of your security and send a message to felons to “keep walking” because your property is not worth the risk of being discovered.
Picking your neighborhood
Before you sign a lease or buy a home, spend a few hours on a Saturday or on a Sunday night near where you want to live.
Drive around the neighborhood or sit in your car with the lights turned off to observe the types of human traffic and activity that are prevalent. You’d be surprised how much a location can change from one time of day or week to the next.
You can also contact the local police or sheriff’s department to find out if the area in question has a reputation for illegal or anti-social behavior.
Another thing to look out for are community watch signs. A neighborhood with an active community watch shows that the residents are concerned about crime and can be counted on to contribute to the long-term solution.
If you want or need to live in a city or suburb, look for one with a thriving economy, a strong middle class, and a large population of young, educated professionals. These areas have the lowest overall crime rates.
It is also critical to consider the physical characteristics of the property you are considering purchasing. Look for a house with a garage for off-street parking in semi-urban and suburban areas.
When looking at condos or apartments, take note of how well the grounds are lit and landscaped.
Is there staff on-site and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
What types of security measures are in place, passive or active?
Is there video surveillance, doormen, or emergency call boxes in the parking lot?
You can also look at the vehicles parked in parking lots or garages. They provide a clear indication of the residents’ wealth and lifestyles.
A gated community is often advantageous in a suburban setting, but it can also be a honey pot if the criminals you are attempting to protect yourself from reside within the gates.
If your bank account can handle it, however, there are gated communities that go far beyond the mere presence of a gate with a passcode.
If you have the funds, look for a community that has security cameras that are monitored 24 hours a day, as well as gate guards who communicate directly with residents, armed security patrols, and other security features that help reduce the risk of crime.
If you want to purchase and live on a larger piece of land, you should consider living in a suburban or rural community. Many rural areas in America have been devastated by the loss of available agricultural jobs, factory closures, and income sources.
A large number of unemployed people can bring drugs and crime to these rural communities. The bottom line is: choose wisely when it comes to your neighborhood and the people you live with!
A pack is stronger than a lone wolf
If you already live in a community where criminal activity is a problem, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your security posture. With the help of neighbors and concerned citizens in your area, it won’t take much to significantly improve the community’s overall security posture.
Always begin by getting to know your neighbors. You will discover that the most powerful tool you can have to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime is the concerned and observant eyes of your neighbors.
It never ceases to amaze me how people can live next door to someone for decades and know absolutely nothing about them. Even if you or your neighbors are not outgoing, you should make an effort to maintain a friendly relationship and exchange contact information as well as travel plans.
There are numerous other things you can do to bring people together in the interest of protecting your home and community.
You can join a local religious or social organization because they provide an excellent opportunity to network with other people in the community who are likely to be security-conscious.
Local gun clubs and firing ranges are another way to connect with others in your community who are as committed to making the area as secure as possible.
The more you know about the people in your neighborhood, the more effective your outer security ring will be. Some people are hesitant to make contact but are eager to assist. They simply lack the social skills to initiate contact.
Instead of isolating these people, bring them together!
Make the first move and start the conversation about how we can all work together to make our community a safer place.
Furthermore, if there is no community or neighborhood watch, contact the local law enforcement agency for help in establishing one. You’d be surprised how many people want to follow your example but are afraid to take the first step.
Being a little paranoid can be a good thing sometimes
Put your paranoia to good use by taking proactive steps to protect your home, property, and loved ones. Be wary of strangers, especially if they ask personal questions about you, your family, or your neighbors.
Before allowing work crews or utility companies into your home or onto your property, contact their respective companies to verify the nature of their work and the personnel assigned to that site.
Many of these workers have photo IDs, so take advantage of this opportunity to confirm their identity and intent. Be wary of salespeople, pollsters, and other strangers in your neighborhood.
If you see a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood, write down the license plate number as well as the car’s color, make, model, and distinguishing features. Notify the police immediately. Do not be afraid to contact the police if something appears or sounds suspicious.
If you are going to be gone for more than a day or two, make arrangements to have your mail picked up and your trash can rolled back to your house.
If you are traveling in the winter, make sure your driveway and walks are cleared. Ask a neighbor to leave footprints leading to and from your doors.
Arrange to have your lawn mowed on a regular basis during the summer so that the grass does not become overgrown. These are all signs that criminals look for to see if anyone is at home.
You can also buy a low-cost light timing system to control lights throughout your home, giving the impression that someone is always home.
A dog is also an excellent thief deterrent, but you don’t have to own a Rottweiler to do the job. In fact, the sound or sight of any dog, no matter what breed or size, reduces your chances of being robbed.
If you can’t or don’t want to own a dog, you can purchase a device that barks loudly at random and whenever it detects movement.
Thieves do not want to be detected. As a result, the majority of home invasions occur between 1:00 and 2:30 p.m., when most people are at work or school.
Criminals do not want to be shot, so a “Beware of Gun Owner” sign should serve as a deterrent. In fact, the opposite is true: if you own guns, don’t advertise them, or you may be targeted specifically to steal them.
Always keep the house locked and the garage and outbuildings secure whether you’re at home or not. If you lose or someone steals your house keys, or if you are moving into a previously owned home, replace the locks immediately.
Many vehicles include an alarm button on the key fob. Keep it near you at night and activate it if you suspect an intruder or a break-in. It will draw the attention of your neighbors and may even scare away the intruder.
Security solutions available to all of us
There are numerous other steps you can take to reduce the risk of crime in your home and neighborhood:
Trim the shrubs around your home as low as possible to reduce hiding places for prowlers.
Before leaving the house for an extended period of time, have mail, newspaper, and package deliveries stopped.
Install a fire safe in a remote, inconspicuous area of your home. Secure it to the floor or wall so that a criminal cannot take it.
When you’re not wearing them, keep your most valuable items in a safe. Transfer your valuables to a safe deposit box at your bank if you will be gone for an extended period of time.
Avoid leaving keys outside your doors because some insurance policies will not pay
Request that the police or a trusted friend or neighbor check on your home.
Install lighting throughout your home and property that can be turned on manually or via motion detectors. To provide illumination even if the power goes out, supplement hardwired lights with strategically placed solar-powered lights.
Install a solid-wood or metal-framed door with a single-way peephole. It should also have a strong deadbolt lock and a security chain installed. Purchase secure side and rear doors as well.
Sliding patio doors are notoriously easy to break through. You can solve this problem by simply inserting a 2×4 or a rigid pole into the bottom track to prevent the door from sliding. You can also purchase a security bar designed specifically for this purpose.
There are numerous effective electronic home security devices available for DIY installation. There is a solution for your situation, from wireless window and glass break alarms to motion detectors and infrared video cameras that communicate with your smartphone.
From the initial steps of perimeter protection to selecting the right neighborhood, collaborating with neighbors to share overwatch responsibilities, and hardening your home against criminals, it is up to you to set yourself up for success in creating a place that is unlikely to be broken into.
Your peace of mind will be worth every ounce of effort you put forth.
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