Written By: SafeHome.org Team | Updated: October 20, 2020

Public Safety Experts: A Look at Home Security

Key Considerations for Securing Your Home

Home security topics are important, no question. For example, the FBI points out that a burglary occurs every 25.7 seconds. There’s a lot of information in cyberspace, sometimes too much. This guide is a good starting point for homeowners and renters to learn about the basics of protecting their homes without getting overwhelmed. We touch on areas such as smart home technology and property maintenance to deter burglars.

Unfortunately, burglaries are not the only things that pose dangers to a home. Fire is a major safety threat, so the guide addresses that, too. First, let’s delve into the thought process of a burglar.

Understanding the Mind of a Burglar

Let's take a look at how these thieves’ minds work.

Security cameras deter most burglars. However, a few inmates serving time for burglary told KGW News in Portland, Oregon, that cameras can indicate loot inside the home. The takeaway: Cameras are just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t rely on them alone to keep your valuables safe, and incorporate alarms into your security system. They get burglars to leave right quick.

Time, sound, and visibility are three main factors to consider. Some questions to ask yourself include:

Most of the burglars who corresponded with KGW News said they broke in through unlocked doors or windows. The items that interested them most included cash, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, guns, and collectibles. One inmate wrote about driving through upper-class neighborhoods looking for closed window blinds with the porch light on. Almost all the burglars agreed that having a car in the driveway deters break-ins.

Common burglary deterrents:

Common burglary “aids”:

“Mind of a Burglar” Resources:

Interested in learning more about burglars, what they do, and why they do what they do? Check out the following resources:

What are some things I can do to prevent burglaries?

Thieves are always looking out for themselves, so it is crucial to do the same. Be ruthless in protecting your home, self, and family from any potentially dangerous situation. Here are some measures you can take to prevent burglaries.

Get a dog.

Dogs will often bark when they sense unfamiliar people coming to your doorstep, warding off potential criminals.

 

Be smart about who you let into your home.

Sometimes, even your gardener or housekeeper might have ulterior motives. It’s crucial to keep a close eye on people you hire to work in and around your home, and to keep your valuables secured out of reach. Anytime you let someone into your home, you are essentially giving them an opportunity to steal.

To keep your home secure but accessible to visitors, use keypad locks and give third parties their own personal entry codes. Change these codes regularly, especially when a household employee leaves the job. Another option is to install smart locks that alert you when someone enters and leaves your home. These locks track who is coming in and out, offer limited digital access keys to guests, service workers, and kids’ friends. They let you remotely lock and unlock doors, and are compatible with smart home ecosystems/security systems.

 

Always complete a background check & ask for references on new contractors.

After workers leave, go through your valuables and make sure everything is still there.

 

Install a home security/alarm system.

A home security camera keeps tabs on people, and its very presence deters crime. Many systems record footage to the cloud or a hard drive, giving you and the authorities proof that crimes have been committed. Installing an alarm system is a must, whether you hire pros or do it yourself.

 

Get to know your neighbors.

A great way to ward off potential burglars is to get friendly with your neighbors so that everyone can help each other out. This is especially helpful if you go on vacation and need a neighbor to keep a closer eye on your property.

 

Make sure your doors and windows are locked.

This step is the easiest way to keep burglars out of your home. Easy access invites bad news and people.

 

Don't accept unsolicited help.

Unless you call service workers to come over, don't let them in. Many thieves are con artists who put on a front, making themselves look like a plumber, painter, tree trimmer, etc. They often come with one other person. One may lure you outside to talk about the service they are “offering,” while the other runs into your house to go through your belongings while you are distracted.

 

Install lights outside your doorstep area so that your home is well lit at night.

Thieves frequent dark areas because they are less likely to get caught.

 

Be careful with your trash.

Some criminals go through your trash for clues to what’s inside your house. Suppose you recently bought an expensive TV and are throwing out the packaging. A criminal who sees that now has an incentive to find a way to get the TV. After you make significant purchases, cut up the packaging and make it as inconspicuous as possible.

 

Maintain a well-kept home.

Trimming your bushes and eliminating potential “hiding spots” keeps thieves away. A well-maintained home signifies that the property is lived in and that you're not away on vacation.

 

Stay mum about vacation plans, especially on social media.

The fewer people who know you are going out of town, the better. Wait until you are home to post these amazing vacation photos.

 

Burglary Prevention Resources:

You can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting your home, family, and yourself from burglary. Here are some websites for additional information:

Identifying Valuables & Maintaining Your Home

Maintaining your home is an important aspect in preventing burglary. At the same time, it’s smart to plan ahead in case your valuables do get stolen.

To do this, you want to:

Write your last name somewhere on valuables so that they can be identified if stolen. If space allows, add your state abbreviation and driver’s license number, assuming it is different from your Social Security number. If it is not, request a new license with an unique number.

Take detailed pictures of items, especially those you can't write on.

Keep an updated record of your valuables. This record might include model, type, serial number, fair market value, and proof of purchase, to name a few considerations.

Replace broken windows, locks, and doors as soon as possible.

Fix broken fences and locks as soon as possible.

Keep loose rocks away from the property to avoid vandalism and break-ins.

Keep your home in good condition. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, clean litter, etc., to indicate that your home is lived in and not being neglected.

Make sure that your house number is clearly visible from the street so that police can find your home easily.

Securing Your Home Resources:

How Can I Keep My Home Safe While I Am on Vacation?

Before you leave, check that everything in your home is in working condition. This includes your locks, security cameras, alarms, and doors. If you don’t already have an alarm or security system, now is a good time to get some home security cameras or even a video doorbell camera so you can keep an eye on things while you are away.

You can also take advantage of smart home technology that lets you control lighting, music, blinds and much more from afar. Switch the lights and TVs on at random times to create the impression you are home. Move the blinds up and down on occasion to foil would-be burglars. Many systems even let you communicate with people who are inside your home (but only if you want to!). Digital assistants in conjunction with programs such as Alexa Guard even listen for breaking glass, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, and notify you when these triggers occur.

“While You're Away” Resources:

Looking for more ways to keep your home safe while you are on vacation? Consider the following resources:

What Do I Do In the Event I Get Robbed?

Hopefully, you never get burgled, but plan as if you might. Keep an updated list of your valuables so you can submit it quickly if necessary. If you come home and the door is unlocked or open, and things look out of place, leave everything as is and call the police right away. Never confront burglars, but if you spot them, take a good look at what they're wearing, what they look like, and what they have taken out of the house. Since someone may have had access to your personal information, monitor your identity for at least a year. Follow these steps to minimize the fallout if a burglar does steal your identity.

Home Security Technology

Keeping your home safe is a lot easier now than it used to be. For example, smart home technology lets you set triggers such as time of day, motion or the behavior of another device. No matter where you are, it’s possible to keep an eye on occurrences inside and around your home, and be notified when someone breaks in. You can also remotely control locks, lights, music, yard sprinklers and much more. If you’re new to this type of technology, it may be less overwhelming to start with a smart home speaker such as the Amazon Echo Dot and a couple of compatible devices. However, it’s pretty easy to set up an ecosystem of linked security devices. Some systems require professional monitoring, but many do not.

Home Security Technology Resources:

Creating a Home Fire Defense Plan

Home security is not just about keeping burglars away. Protecting your home from fire is critical, too. For example, you should store valuables and important documents in fire-resistant safes and boxes. They are not fireproof, but UL ratings of one hour at 1,700 °F indicate that a safe should do its job well. Other simple but essential steps to take include:

Conclusion

There are so many ways to approach home security. Some are common sense practices that we already do, while other techniques require more planning and awareness. Home security does generally take some work and costs a bit initially but is well worth it to minimize safety risks. After all, a safe home is a happy home!