December 17, 2018
The holiday season is a time of year where we receive or give many generous presents. It is also a time of year we travel overnight and leave our homes to celebrate with family and friends. There are some simple steps we can do to protect our prized possessions and homes, including building relationships with those who live near by.
So, how well do you know your neighbors? A connection between how inter-connected your neighborhood is may link to how safe your home is from burglars.
Research by the Medical College of Wisconsin for the nonprofit Safe & Sound found that the number of neighborhood club meetings showed the most association with improvements in neighborhood cohesion. And that translates to healthier neighborhoods where people watch out for each other.
Here are 15 things you can do to keep your home safer:
1. Watch out for your neighbors
Not only will this make for a more friendly neighborhood, it may offer you some enjoyment, conveniences and can help help raise home values.
2. Appearances: Trash Cans, Grass and Snow
These can all make a home look empty. Put trash cans away, keep your grass cut and stay shoveled out, regularly! When these things are let go it sends a message to criminals that people aren’t paying attention. And if you see suspicious behavior, report it to the police.
3. Get a dog
A dog, particularly one with a loud bark. It works, but we know all homes are not the right fit for a dog or pet, see #11.
4. Shut the garage door and lock your service door
Remember to shut down the garage door if if you step away for a few minutes. If you plan to be away for an extended period even lock any service doors that lead into your home. Oh, and don’t leave cars running and unattended, even for a few minutes.
5. Install simple security devices
Padlocks, deadbolts and other devices can make it harder for a thief to enter. They often don’t want to work that hard to gain entry.
6. Let neighbors your close with know you’ll be away
Many eyes make for a safer neighborhood.
7. Case the joint
Walk around the house as if you were the one trying to break in. Look for any weaknesses, doors that can be jimmied, a window air conditioner that could be easily removed, etc.
8. Work with police
Call the police if you see anything suspicious. Or consider going to a crime and safety meeting in your police district.
9. Organize a neighborhood cleanup
It doesn’t cost anything to pick up a piece of paper and put it in the garbage. That shows pride and ownership in the neighborhood, and that people are watching.
10. Don’t hide keys in “secret” places
Thieves actually know your “secret” places.
11. Install exterior lights (on a timer)
A well-light house is less attractive to thieves. Consider using a motion detector to trigger lights. Think of yourself as a magician: You’re creating the illusion that you’re home. And use interior timers; a dark house looks unoccupied. You can do this inexpensively with old-style mechanical devices. But if you want to spend a little more, new, smart products allow you to set timers remotely using your smartphone and turn the lights off and on throughout the night to make the home look occupied.
12. Don’t let stuff pile up
Have a friend or neighbor pick up the deliveries. Nothing says “rob me” like a pile of papers, junk mail or Amazon packages outside your door. Remember to hold your mail with the USPS too.
13. Close and lock windows
Seems pretty simple, but it is often overlooked by homeowners. And where it makes sense, consider securing with wooden rods.
14. Be modest
If you just bought the latest 85-inch flat-screen Sony, don’t leave the box lying around near the trash, which is like saying “Hey look, I just got a brand new 85-inch flat-screen Sony!” It also helps to close your blinds and curtains to keep prying eyes out. If they can’t see a purse, cash or electronics to enter for, they may stay out.
15. Install an alarm system or a sign
Alarm systems or video security cameras are effective, and the technology is cheaper than in the past. Homes with qualifying alarm systems may even be eligible for a discount in their home owners insurance! If an alarm is not in the budget, just place a sign. This may make burglars think think twice about entering your home, especially if you follow the above tips.