Home Protection Basics

By Francisco Mateo

“Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their information gathering, even using Google Earth and Streetview to plan their burglaries with military precision. Insurance providers are starting to take this into account when they are assessing claims and we may in future see insurers declining claims if they believe the customer was negligent.” — Darren Black, head of home insurance at Confused.com

The fact is that, “what you don’t know can hurt you” when it comes to home burglary and theft protection.  All of us home owners should be aware of the latest tactics being employed by cat burglars these days. First off a maxim in protection strategies is that you must know your enemy and their methods of attack.  Subsequently we can implement proper prevention and defense. Consider these suggestions to make your home a well guarded castle:

Doors are Obvious Entry Points for Intruders

  • If you move into a new home, change the front and back door locks immediately. Install an alarm system.
  • Ensure front and back doors are secure. Never leave door keys near an open window. If possible, get doors that are solid and at least 1 3/4” (4.4cm) thick.
  • Never open the front door without first checking who it is. If you live in an apartment, use the peephole to find out who is at your door (if there isn’t one installed, ask the building management or landlord if it is possible to install one). If you live in a house, look through a window to see who it is before opening the front door. If you have a front door grill, make sure it is always locked.
  • Some thieves try to trick their way into your house by telling a variety of stories. They could be alone or in groups, young or old, male or female and any race or religion. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR to them or let them into your home especially if you are alone. Genuine callers, e.g. local police officers, should not mind coming back another time when other family members are home.

Windows Cannot be Compromised, Either

  • If you have window grills, make sure they are not big enough for a small person, or a child, to squeeze through. Burglars can pry open a window making just enough space to unlatch it from the outside and then squeeze through the grill opening. (A thief can get through any gap that is larger than a human head.)
  • At night and when nobody is in the house, ground floor windows should always be closed and latched properly. Even though there may be window grills, an open window gives burglars more access to your house.

Ensure Your House is Well Lit

  • Use energy saving light bulbs at strategic spots around the house which can be run all night. While the determined burglar might still try to break in, it could help deter others.

Install Sensor Lights in the Garden

  • It may make sense to install motion sensor lights either in the garage or the garden. However, ensure that the light is directed downwards, otherwise it can be annoying to neighbors and be dangerous to passing traffic.

Keep Tools and Ladders Away from View

  • If you keep tools in a shed or cabinet outside the house, keep it locked at all times. Otherwise, thieves can just help themselves to your tools to break into your house!

Garden Landscape Can Be a Hiding Place

  • Although trees and hedges can give you privacy, it can also be a good place for prowlers to hide. Keep the landscaping neatly trimmed so that your garden is visible from the outside.

When You are Away on Holiday

  • Try not to make it too obvious that nobody is home. Cancel newspaper deliveries so that they don’t pile up in your driveway.
  • Put some lights around the house on automatic (preferably random) timer so that the house is not left in complete darkness.
  • If possible, have a close friend or relative come in at different times every day to check on the house and bring in the mail.
  • Keep valuables like jewellery in a safe deposit box while you are away. If your car is left at home while you are away on holiday, do not keep the car keys in the house. This will avoid potential robbers stealing the car if they manage to break into your house.
  • Before you leave for your holiday, double check that all windows are secure and front and back doors are properly locked.

One Response to “Home Protection Basics”

  1. Francisco Says:

    From a recent LinkedIn discussion on the subject:

    I believe the following article from NYT would be relevant to this discussion:

    Weighing the Value of Home Security System
    Published: April 30, 2010
    A home alarm system can provide some benefits, but thwarting burglaries might not be the foremost of those.


    Who would’ve thought this issue is of such great interest to the general public (it is currently the most emailed article). I guess the prolonged economic recession has made everyone more aware of protecting themselves and their assets. If a better, layered strategy is what is needed than it behooves us to step up to the plate and help these folks (intrusion alarm users) get it right.

    Change coming from the provider side would be hard to achieve based on their overarching profit motives. To reboot this protection strategy, we’d have to implement a bottom-up approach, getting the users more informed about what alarms and can (and can’t) do and what else can be done to offset the inherent vulnerabilities. Armed with information the users would not be so passive when it’s time to invest in such systems.

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