Home Security Tips

AT HOME

  • Use a door viewer before opening your door. Always demand identification from strangers (even repair or sales persons).
    Always lock up your home before leaving.
  • Don't hide your house keys outdoors anywhere.
  • Use interior and exterior lighting at all times.
  • Have keys ready and in your hand for immediate use when you return home.
  • Join Operation Identification - most burglars will not steal marked property.

GARAGE SALES:

  • Do not advertise garage sales as a "moving sale;" this implies that the house may be vacant for extended periods of time.
  • Do not answer personal questions about the house such as type of alarm, daytime occupancy, etc.
  • Do not let people inside (to use the bathroom. phone, etc.)
  • Hide or destroy boxes from computers, TV's, VCR's, etc. Don't accidentally advertise that you own such items.

SAFETY CHECKLIST FOR APARTMENTS:

  • Does your entry door have a deadbolt lock and peephole?
  • Does your sliding glass door have a wooden rod in the track so it can't be opened and pins in the overhead frame so it can't be lifted out?
  • Does your landlord or property manager tightly control all keys?
  • For extra security, leave a radio playing or a light on while you are gone.
  • Always tell neighbors and the property manager when you leave for a business trip or vacation.

     Check Out Your Building

  • Is there some kind of control over who enters and leaves the building?
  • Are walkways, entrances, parking areas, elevators, hallways, stairways, laundry rooms, and storage areas well-lighted, 24 hours a day?
  • Are fire stairs locked from the stairwell side about the ground floor, so you can exit but no one can enter?
  • Are mailboxes in a well-traveled, well-lighted area and do they have good locks?
  • Are things well maintained--are burnt-out lights fixed properly, shrubs trimmed, trash and other derbis removed?

     Check Out the Neighbors

  • Get to know your neighbors. Join or organize an Apartment Watch group so neighbors can look out for and help each other.
  • If you live in a large building or complex, think about a tenant patrol that watches for crime around the building, provides escort services for the elderly and handicapped, and monitors coming and going in the lobby or access points.
  • Work with landlords to sponsor social events for tenants--a Sunday breakfast, a picnic, a Halloween Party.
  • Look beyond problems to root causes--does your building need a better playground, a social evening for teens, a tenant association, need landscaping, a basketball hoop?
  • Work with the landlord for changes that make everyone proud of where they live.

HOME SECURITY - A SMART INVESTMENT

If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge? You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can break in, so can a burglar! One out of ten homes will be burglarized this year. For a small amount of time and money you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of being a victim. Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. Good locks - and good neighbors who watch out for each other - can be big deterrents to burglars.

Check the locks

Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?

  • Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
  • Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the slide door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
  • Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" your windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
  • Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
  • When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.

Check the doors

A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.

  • All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
  • If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
  • Install a peephole or wide angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don't keep out intruders.

Check the outside

Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips.

  • Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
  • Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upper-level window.
  • If you travel, create the illusion that you're at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
  • Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And don't let your mail pile up! Call the post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.
  • Make a list of your valuables - VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and description. Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through Operation Identification.
  • Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.

Consider an Alarm

Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history of break-ins.

  • Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established company and check references before signing a contract.
  • Learn how to use your system properly! Don't "cry wolf" by setting off false alarms. People will stop paying attention and you'll probably be fined.
  • Some less expensive options... a sound-detecting socket that plugs into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain noises, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches, or lights with photo cells that turn on when it's dark and off when it's light.

Burglars Do More Than Steal

Burglars can commit rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.

  • If something looks questionable - a slit screen, a broken window or an open door - don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's house or a public phone.
  • At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can't leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
  • Gun are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every year. If you choose to own a gun, learn how to store it and use it safely.

There's More You Can Do

  • Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, you can start one with help from local law enforcement.
  • Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from home now, say "I'm not available right now."
  • Work with neighbors and local government to organize community clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.