As some of my readers will know, physical security is something of a hobby of mine. Indeed, I pick locks. I know this often gets a few raised eyebrows when I mention it, but I assure you that it's just a hobby and it's perfectly ethical. In fact, in my spare time I am the Administrator for the world's largest online lock picking community. So, I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to blog about how to protect your home. Better late than never, though, I bring you the top 5 tips for securing your home from break-in.
Tip #1 - Have a monitored alarm system
Some time ago I remember hearing someone from the Winnipeg Police Department on the radio mention that only 3% of homes broken into in the city had a working monitored alarm system. That struck me as pretty darned relevant and makes an important point: Alarms DO work. Despite what people say about response times and such, a monitored alarm system provides a deterrent to the vast majority of burglars.
Tip #2 - Motion Sensor Lighting
Installing motion sensor lighting in places that will light up possibly entry points to your home is a great idea. Make sure you install the fixtures high enough that one cannot easily walk up and unscrew the light bulbs. Burglars don't want to be seen. Pretty simple, but effective.
Tip #3 - Dogs
This isn't exactly practical for everyone, but owning a dog makes your home more secure. In many instances, the bark of a dog (even a small one, believe it or not) is enough to scare off a would-be burglar. They'll sooner look for an easier target than have to deal with a dog in most cases. I'm sorry folks, cats don't have the same effect.
Tip #4 - Avoid Concealed Windows
Windows are a common entry point. Avoid having windows that are concealed by shrubs or fences. It is preferable that the windows in your home are visible to neighbors. Again, burglars don't like to be seen and will often look for an easier target.
Tip #5 - When in Doubt, Call in a Professional
It can be a great idea to have a professional locksmith assess your property and make recommendations to increase your home security. However, be sure to shop around and use your head. You usually needn't spend a ton of money to increase your security. It's all about risk assessment and management. For most people, it's important that you avoid the common mistakes that make your home stick out as a target for burglary, not to make your home Fort Knox.
BONUS Tip: Don't leave the packaging for expensive items visible with the garbage. Never advertise that you have expensive stuff inside.
There's an old joke or possibly parable that I can only vaguely remember, but the punch line had something to do with not having to be able to outrun a bear, only having to outrun your camping buddy. The point is similar. You needn't be the most secure home on the block. You need only make sure you're not among the least.