by Robert Fox
In the United States, where a burglary is reported every 15 seconds somewhere in the country, it would be a mistake not to think about your own home's security for a few minutes. Maybe you've taken everything into careful consideration, but then again, maybe not.
Part of the problem is that no one can predict exactly when a burglary will happen. Even if you live in a "safe" neighborhood, unless that neighborhood has its own security team, such as those who live in gated communities with their own security guards patrolling the premises, you most likely live in a neighborhood much like the rest of us, which depends on the police to look out for us. Of course, you may have your own security system of some kind installed, but, even then, you're in the minority.
Everyone leads a busy life, and so having time to strategize the anti-burglary measures for your home isn't always something you want to do after doing the dishes but before your kid's soccer practice, but this is part of the reason that many of us get burglarized - because we haven't fully taken the time to consider these things.
Like neglecting a health concern with your own body (had that mole looked at yet?), neglecting the trouble spots of your home's overall security can lead to big problems. This may sound a bit like a lecture to some of you reading this, but hey, we think of it more as a friendly reminder.
Of course, some of us don't know exactly what these "trouble spots" might be. Not everyone is so well-versed in spotting them on their own properties, and on top of that, some of these "weak points" don't even include a physical issue; it could be more of a habit in our behavior that ends up being the root problem.
That is why we have written this article; in order for you to better assess your own home's security weak points, whether they are physical or otherwise.
When people imagine a break in, they usually picture someone attempting to break in through a window, or kicking in a door. This is many peoples' idea of how your stereotypical guy in dark clothes gains entry and of course sometimes this is indeed the case, stats show.
You might even picture a guy wearing some kind of get-up, but of course the reality of the situation is never quite what you'd think.
For instance, have you ever had your house broken into by your 14-year-old son's own hooligan friends? Well, we have, and they don't exactly fit the description of your average burglars. We're not trying to make anyone paranoid about who might break in, but the truth is, you just never know when the time comes.
Consider this: there are ways in which burglars can gain access to your home, which involve you or someone in your family unknowingly giving burglars the opportunity to take advantage of a situation, which we will talk more about shortly.
It is our hope that after reading this article, you will act upon some of these things and make your home a more secure place.
Here is our list of 5 things to consider for a more secure home:
In day to day life, most people want to give people the benefit of the doubt. Trusting other people is something we can't do without, and it makes the world go around at the same time. If we couldn't trust anyone, where would we be as a society? Nowhere - that's where!
It is because we trust people that is part of the reason why we lend out our house keys to family, friends, and sometimes other trusted acquaintances.
But in many cases, we have no qualms lending out our key to a plumber or leaving it in the mailbox for someone who is coming to feed our dog while we are on vacation. Heck, for a while we've knew some folks who even had a "hiding spot" of leaving the house key on a brick at eye level beside the door. Best hiding spot ever? Oh yeah.
When it comes to giving your plumber the keys just for an afternoon, it sounds reasonable enough. However, sometimes we might extend our trust a little too far and it just takes one time to hand our keys over to the wrong person. Then, at that point, what happens is really out of our hands. People can be sneaky.
How many times have we trusted the wrong person with our personal belongings? It is unlikely that the guy who is coming to fix our fridge is a fridge-fixer by day and black mask wearing burglar by night, but maybe he knows one, or knows someone who knows one. Bottom line is that we don't want to take the unnecessary risk of giving our key to someone we essentially do not know.
We need to remember that our keys to our home give whoever holds them access to basically everything that we hold dear to us. Oh, and they're usually quite easy to duplicate. In fact, you may have already done so, places keys all around your house like you're hiding Easter eggs. You may want to reconsider this idea, and go with one master key that you always keep track of. Alternately, you can…
These days, there is another option as well. You could always "go keyless".
Many deadbolt locks you can easily install not only require no key, but they also are "smart", meaning you can control them from your mobile device.
If keys are something you are not especially good at keeping track of, then something like an electronic keyless deadbolt might be a good option for you and your family.
One great example is the Schlage Connect, a very popular electronic keyless deadbolt. Here is a video showing some of its main features:
=> Click here to read our review of the Schlage Connect Deadbolt
Something that goes hand in hand with keys is, of course, locks. If you have a door with a handle lock or a knob lock, then maybe its time for considering an upgrade.
With these types of handle or knob locks, there isn't a whole lot standing between a burglar and the inside of your home. Many of these locks can be jimmied in some way, which usually involves a crowbar or something to pry it open with.
Since these locks are relatively non-secure when it comes to forced entry, that means that statistically if a burglar wants to get into your home, they will with not much effort.
Weak door locks on your home leads us back, once again, to high quality deadbolt locks.
If you have a home and you value what's inside of it (who doesn't?), then we think installing a high quality deadbolt is a must. This way, forced entry is all but eliminated, as a burglar can't pry open a door which is protected by a high quality deadbolt unless they don't mind bringing part of the house down as well, and usually that's too much effort.
Most burglars are, to put it bluntly, not highly sophisticated characters (why else would they be out there burgling?), and on top of that, they're usually rather lazy, as certain studies show.
Statistics have shown that burglars who encounter resistance like deadbolts or alarms when it comes to their plans, in most cases get confused or scared, and leave immediately.
There is something we should mention here which once again says to burglars "but wait, there's another way!" And that is, lock-bumping. If you haven't heard of this, we've written an extensive article on it here which talks about this phenomenon, which affects some deadbolts.
The bad news is that some burglars have caught on to this technique and its all over YouTube, but the good news is that lock companies are well-aware of lock-bumping and now there are bump-proof locks.
Here is a review one of a top quality bump-proof lock out there by the company Lockey, which you can see looks like many other deadbolts sold today, only it incorporates bump-proof technology to put a stop to anyone trying to bump a lock.
Overall, bump-proof locks are another thing you need to consider when burglar-proofing your home.
When you install that new deadbolt on your exterior door, you also need to consider the door itself. Any door which goes from outside to inside your home should be a formidable door, or else a burglar can literally just kick the door in. Its hard to imagine someone actually trespassing onto your property and kicking in your door, but it has definitely happened to some people, and if you have either a hollow or flimsy door installed currently, it could even happen to you.
If you install a solid wooden door, fiberglass door, or metal exterior door, then you are in much better shape if and when a burglar comes along.
It is worth noting that the weakest point on any door when the door is attacked is its lock, so you really do need a combination of a strong door and a strong lock.
Hollow wooden doors, in particular, are the easiest targets for a burglar to break through successfully, so we think that having a solid and secure door is a real requirement of any secure home.
We have written a lengthy article all about choosing the right exterior door for your home that you might want to have a look at.
Well, that video is reassuring, isn't it?
Yes, its true that another type of door which is fraught with disadvantages is your average sliding patio door. The locking mechanisms on patio doors are often among the weakest ones in existence, and, in addition to that, there are older models which can be lifted right off of their tracks and removed by a burglar. Really, what's the point in buying a strong front door when your back door offers just about no security at all.
Back and side doors are a definite trouble spot for some people, and sliding doors are a really problem as well.
Below is a video which talks about some solutions for this problem, which you may find helpful.
The first product mentioned in this video, the wired door contact ( click here to view one made by Honeywell), is a simple way to receive a notification if someone is tampering with your door, or attempts to open it.
Once the two pieces are separated, an alarm sounds to let you know something has happened.
The other product mentioned in this video is a wireless glass break detector, which notifies you via your mobile device if something happens to your door. These types of products may not look like much, but they do serve a purpose and it can add a lot of security to your home.
We highly recommend the model to our left here, by Honeywell. It is an excellent safeguard in case the unthinkable happens and someone attempts to break into your home.
Here is a review of the product by one buyer:
Windows are another obvious point of entry for a potential burglar, and people often forget this in the summertime in favor of catching a cool cross breeze, which is only natural.
So how can we make our windows more secure considering that their locks are often not extremely strong and in many cases a burglar will just break them?
First lets look at the locks themselves. Since windows come in different shapes and sizes, we've got to know our windows, and, by extension, our options for replacing weak locks with stronger ones.
There is also the option of reinstalling stronger windows. There are windows that are available today which are much stronger than your average pane of glass, and make flimsy glass windows look like tissue paper by comparison.
Of course, reinstalling all of your windows can be a costly task, but at least there are some locks which aren't going to cost you too much and still add some protection to your home, such as the Prime-Line Vinyl Diecast Zinc Window Lock shown on the left here.
One tip that you might want to think about is to close the blinds or curtains at night. It makes sense to look out your window during the day, when you're at home.
Sure, open every window in the house, have a party! But at night, when you're asleep, the least you can do is close the curtains so that in the unlikely event that a burglar is outside, they can't peer into your window and check out the goods, which may in fact be part of their plan.
We think that people should do everything in their power to make their home more secure, and closing the curtains is so simple. Tinted glass is another option. These tips will definitely prevent a possible window break in.
Another option you may want to consider is indoor or outdoor security cameras.
You can imagine, if a burglar is looking at the different houses on a given street, and they see a house which just gives off the appearance of having lots of open windows, or whatever telltale signs that they are looking for that they equate with who they're going to victimize later on, that could be the point where they decide that this house will be their target.
On the other hand, if you add security cameras into the equation, the average burglar is probably going to think "maybe not" and move on to the next person. As we said, burglars aren't usually too bright, but they are smart in the sense that they know how to assess a house in terms of how secure it is at a glance.
Security cameras are a good way to send the message to a potential criminal that "Yes, I'm watching you too, and don't try it."
=> Click here to visit our section on indoor and outdoor home security cameras
This may sound a bit ridiculous to some of you reading this, but if you have a house with a lot of shrubbery and bushes on your property, then you are giving burglars places to hide or at least some form of coverage if they are on your property.
That said, depending on where you live, your trees can act as a wall to hide your home from onlookers. It does work both ways.
Ok, now let us assume that you have all of your bases covered, with security cameras mounted around your home, watching out for anyone who might trespass on your property.
You feel like there's basically no way for anyone to get near your door without first being seen.
Lets also assume you have a "smart" security system like a Night Owl system which has motion sensors, night vision, and the works. No one is getting by you, you think.
Now imagine you have a number of big trees on your property, and a large English garden which has a number of big flowers and plants growing in it. These things, while very nice, may give a potential burglar a way to literally sneak up on you if they are looking at the layout of your property.
While thieves aren't necessarily smart, they probably have watched some Wile E. Coyote cartoons and can plot a route from this tree to that shrub and eventually up to your front door.
Now, we're not saying that everyone should have a yard that is simply made out of concrete and has a number of flashing lights, cameras, and drones on patrol. At the same time, you should at least consider the layout of your yard, or you might find a burglar who can scramble through your yard like a Mission Impossible movie and get stuck in your doggy door.
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker, who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. His hobbies include cribbage, golf, locksmithing, and cooking.