Security Tips and Tricks
Away? Create the Illusion of Occupancy
If you are going on vacation or are going to be away from your home or apartment for several days, create the illusion that someone is occupying your residence.
– If you are going on vacation, leave your home in the care of someone you trust and let them know where you can be reached in case of emergency.
– Arrange to have your mail and newspapers picked up, your grass cut, the leaves raked or the snow removed as necessary.
– Have a neighbor check both inside and outside the house every few days.
– Use timers on interior lights when you are going to be away or just out for the evening. These can be set to turn the lights and radio or television on and off intermittently to give the appearance that someone is home. Don’t worry about driving up the cost of your electricity bill as it only costs about $0.75 per month.
– Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway or your designated parking stall. If you have a garage, keep the door closed and locked so no one can see if your car is gone.
– Turn the ringer on your telephone off or set your answering machine or voicemail to pick up on the second ring and do not leave specific information about your absence.
– Install security lights around the perimeter of your house. They are relatively inexpensive and are a great deterrent, especially if they are set with motion detectors. If you already have non-motion lights, battery operated add-on motion sensors exist that simply screw into the existing light socket and mount near the fixture.
– Never leave a note or a voicemail message indicating you are not at home.
– Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions.
– Do not share your vacation plans in social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
Police officers and employees in security-related fields refer to securing your residence as ‘target hardening.’ Considering that in almost half of all residential burglaries thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors and windows, we need to address target hardening.
Look at your yard and neighborhood areas from a burglar’s point of view. Trim trees and bushes that the intruder could hide behind. Pay particular attention to trees growing near your house. Could a burglar climb a tree to get onto the roof and enter through an unlocked upper story window?
Also, make sure that emergency personnel can easily see your address from the street, even at night.
Outside doors and frames should be made of solid wood or steel, which are harder to force open than hollow-core doors. Frames in outside doors should fit snugly (within 1/4 inch) against the door, and any glass around an outside door should be at least 40 inches from the lock or be unbreakable. To keep the door from being lifted off its track, limit clearance by installing screws or a plate that protrude down from the top track.
For added security you can also consider a floor mounted door stop. This is much more effective than a door chain, which is easily compromised with a good push.
Garage doors can also be secured using a lock on the inside of the door.
Hinges should be attached securely by screws that go through the door frame into the supporting stud, and are not exposed on the outside. Replace outside hinges with non-removable hinges that are available commercially.
To observe visitors, a wide angle viewer should be used instead of a chain lock, as they do not require you to open the door. Change your locks if keys are lost or when you move into a new residence.
Garages are a favorite target because they often have other valuables, such as power tools and bicycles in them.
– Secure garages windows with bars or plexiglass.
– The door between your house and attached garage should swing inward, be solid core and have a deadbolt lock.
– Keep your garage locked, even when you are at home.
– If the overhead garage door is roller and track operated, install a lock in the track to block the roller and disconnect your automatic garage door opener before you go on vacation.
– Secure your other garage doors with deadbolts.
– Install lights near your garage to keep the area lit. Also, leave your headlights on until you park in the garage.
– Consider having a remote control garage door opener installed, to allow you to stay in your car until you’re inside and the door is secured, and be sure the overhead door closes completely after you drive into or out of your garage.