The best home defense is prevention as well as being alert and conscious of the environment and using common sense.
We strongly suggest that you incorporate into your daily life tips and tricks described below in order to reduce the possibility of becoming a victim.
– Know your neighbours; stay informed about irregular things that are happening. Join a monitoring group; if none exists, propose one.
– Analyze the security of your doors and windows. Install safety gates with armored locks for added security and install railings outside the gates. Install a “magic eye” for doors; select the one that allows you to see more of the outside area.
– When installing burglar bars for windows that face the street, make sure the metal structure does not serve as a ladder to access upper floors. Also install bars on skylights.
– Install outside your home a good lighting system; at least install a light that turns on automatically by a motion sensor.
– Immediately replace the dead lights on the outside of your home. Thieves usually look for houses with little light outside.
– Use lights and electronics that are automatically triggered by clocks so it looks like you are at home.
– Consider getting a dog.
– Restrict who can have the keys of your home. Do not give them to the concierge or home staff. Immediately replace cylinder locks if the keys are lost or stolen, or if you just moved to a house or apartment previously occupied. When making copies of your keys, insist that they are made in your presence.
– Do not hide your keys below the mat or under a pot; these are obvious and known hideouts.
– When evaluating places to rent, pay special attention to the condition of doors, windows and locks – they must be in perfect condition and must close properly.
– Never leave recorded messages on the phone saying you are away from home or on holiday. Leave a message that you are busy at the moment and that you will return the call soon. Have a telephone that prevents long ringing. Make sure the phone volume is set low, so that your absence is not obvious.
– Install bars or a steel fence around your house and on windows and glass doors (do not use aluminum, this material is nice but not strong).
– Avoid plants or trees that cover your doors or windows.
– Keep your doors locked. It is logical and it sounds simple, but more than 40% of burglars enter homes through open doors, whether front or back. Lock your doors even if you leave for just a few minutes (to take out the trash, talk to a neighbour, pick up the mail, etc.). Do not leave messages on the door saying you will be back shortly.
– Do not let in strangers without proper identification. Thieves often impersonate sales people. Also, if someone knocks on your door asking to use the phone because they have an emergency, do not let them in. They may be just studying the inside of your house. In a case like this, tell them you will make the call for them.
– Check the identification of persons working for utilities (electric, water, telephone company, etc.) and be especially wary if you have not requested their services.
– When hiring staff, always ask for identity documents and make a copy of them. Check their personal and work references and if possible, their criminal record. As soon as possible, take a photo of the person hired; this serves as a deterrent and if necessary, solves the problem of providing their description.
– Try to change your daily routines from time to time. Thieves often study the movements of the members of the household, and can find out at what times do you leave the home, and how long it takes you to return. Try changing some of your schedules to confuse potential thieves.
– Do not be predictable. Once the thief is inside your house, they first go to the bedroom where most of people keep valuables. Burglars know the favourite places where people hide valuables: drawers, refrigerators, mattresses, boxes of crackers, etc. Be more unpredictable in hiding your valuables.
– Avoid having large amounts of money and jewelry in your home. Thieves always look for easy money and lightweight things: jewelry, silver, cameras, small electronics. Have a safe for keeping these items. If possible, invest in furniture where TVs or computers can be attached to. Thieves are always trying to get in and out quickly.
– When storing valuables (jewelry, money, documents, firearms) make sure you have a safe against theft and fire.
– Do not put in plain sight, expensive things. Around 95% of burglars are opportunistic; they see something through a window that catches their attention, and that’s when they make a decision to enter.
– Take an inventory of your property. Right down the type, model and serial numbers of arms, appliances, electronics, and so on. Keep the invoices and other evidence of ownership. This will be very useful if you need to report a robbery or make a claim to your insurance company.
– You need to inform the police about facts, no matter how small they are, even if you think that your complaints will not be taken into account. Many criminals are free because they have not been reported. Trust in your police and help them serve you better.
– Make and practice a plan of home defense. Each family member should know his/her role in case of an emergency because this will expedite actions and increase the chances of successful defense. If you do not have such an action plan and do nothing, you will be easy prey for attackers.
– When you know in advance that your home is unlawfully entered, act according to the plan and gather all family members in a predetermined and strategically located place. Immediately notify relevant authorities, providing the address and describing the problem.
– If you have a gun, do not shoot before you fully identify the target. If an intruder gets hurt, keep him under your gun, thus controlling the situation. Do not approach him until the police comes or until you have the full confidence that the attacker no longer poses a threat. Keep in mind that he may be faking. When the police arrives, it is very important that you inform them about the situation and that you are armed, avoiding possible confusion on the part of the authorities.
– Another thing that you want to keep in mind is the landscaping in front of your house or around it. One thing that burglars want is to be able to hideout when they are doing these things. They do not want to be in your house and have somebody able to see inside the windows. One thing that people overlook is that they allow their landscaping to get out of control. Sometimes bushes and trees in front of windows may look nice but you do not want them covering up windows and places where burglars may hide and have more time inside. You always want to put fear in their minds that they might be seen or caught at any time. So keep your bushes and your trees well maintained so they are not blocking entrance ways and windows.
– One thing that we really want to emphasize is to make sure that it looks like someone’s home even if they aren't. So if you are going on vacation, and you normally get newspapers delivered to your house, you should call the paper and have them stop delivery. Or you can have a trusted neighbour, family or relative, come by and take newspapers in for you. Same thing with the mail. You do not want newspapers or mail piling up and looking like somebody is obviously on vacation.
– Another thing to pay attention to is the exterior lighting of your house. When you do have lights, such as veranda or motion sensor lights, things like that around the house, you want to have them with a minimum of 40 watt bulb, to give a descent amount of light.
– Something else to look at is the security system of your door. You want to have a deadbolt to help prevent people from pushing the door open.
– One thing burglars look for when they come up to the door is if there are lights on inside, so what you wan't to do if you are out of town, is to get some cheap timers at a local hardware store and set random lights on timers so that they go on and off at different times, looking like someone is at home. You may want to turn your radio on, turn the TV on, so that when burglars come up and listen and they think ‘maybe someone’s at home, I may go somewhere else.’