‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…
…were a whole variety of security gaps that could ruin your holidays in the event of a break-in.
Hey, I know it doesn’t rhyme but you get the drift.
Keeping your home secure at any time of the year is always a good plan, but it can be more important around the holidays. Stats show that on average, theft at this time of year can increase over 20%, primarily due to the abundance of gift purchases and the general distraction or absence of homeowners. From porch pirates grabbing packages from your front door to break-ins while you’re out celebrating, thieves are opportunistic and don’t care at all about the sentimentality of the season.
When it comes to home protection, think of it as multi-layered approach that will either deter or stop thieves at various levels of the process.
- Don’t make it apparent that you have things worth stealing
- Don’t broadcast to the world that you’re not home or will be away
- Don’t make it easy to approach your home or hide on your property
- Don’t make it easy to get into your home
- If someone does happen to breach an entrance or get inside, make sure that they aren’t able to take their sweet time robbing you
- Where possible, keep your most valuable items secure
For the most part, thieves look for easy, path-of-least-resistance jobs that pose the lowest risk of getting caught. If robbing your place appears to be too difficult, they are just as likely to go next door. Make no mistake though, some of these bad guys are pretty bold and will attempt to rip you off during the day or even while you’re still at home. The key is to be aware and not get too lazy when it comes to protecting your hard-earned possessions.
Seems obvious, but this is one of the easiest methods of helping to protect your stuff. Be sure to lock ALL doors and windows and don’t forget the garage. Garage doors are notoriously simple to get through unless they’re properly secured. Thieves also LOVE sliding doors, so be sure to add a footer bar to prevent access. Another thing to consider is that factory-manufactured door frames, strike plates (plus screws) and window latches can be lacking in strength. It’s often a good plan to replace them or add some support.
2. Security Systems
These come in a wide variety of types, price points and levels of sophistication. Never a bad idea though. Whether you get a fully integrated system or utilize specific elements, this is a great way to put thieves off, alert the authorities and capture information. From door and window sensors, motion detectors, lights, cameras and 2-way talk capabilities, you can set yourself up to be very well protected. There’s also nothing quite like a screaming alarm to chase thieves off your property.
Well-lit spaces are not ideal for thieves and they know it. Adding supplementary lighting around your property is a simple way to make your place less appealing for a break-in. Be sure to keep lighting units out of reach and they can be on full-time, used with timers or be motion activated depending on the application.
4. Social Media
Some people just can’t help themselves, but a little discretion should be applied when telling the world about every little detail of your life online. One way to make your home a target is by letting everyone know that you’ll be away and when. Use some common sense and save the posts for whenever you return.
5. Hiding Places
Thieves like cover. It’s kind of a tool-of-the-trade, so make an effort not to accommodate them. Cut back any trees or brush close to your house and be sure to lock any sheds or outbuildings. Also don’t leave things like ladders around that could help someone gain access.
6. Secure WiFi
A fast track to your personal and financial information can come through unsecured home wifi accounts. Always rename and protect your network with a strong password to prevent anyone from snooping and potentially gaining access to important data.
7. Get a Safe
If someone were to gain access, don’t make it easy for them to get away with the good stuff. Having a sturdy safe (ideally anchored & with a double lock) in your home is your best bet to keep items like passports, jewelry, cash and other valuables secure.
Close communities always tend to have lower break-in rates. It’s a perfect, built-in monitoring system for whenever you’re away. Trusted neighbors can look out for each other and even go so far as to collect your mail, newspapers and flyers from your place, shovel your snow, move your vehicles around and turn lights off and on. Having your place looking lived-in is an effective deterrent.
9. Have a Plan
Do a risk assessment on your property to try and determine all of the weak links in your defenses and how someone could potentially rob you. Be aware of the surroundings and include consideration for forested areas, road and water access, other close properties and the general risk of the neighborhood that you live in. It’s also a good idea to communicate some kind of plan with your family in the event of a break-in, just as you would for any emergency like a fire or natural disaster. Know where to meet and who to contact.
Whether you actually use your weapon in a home defense situation or not is up to you, however you’ll want to make sure that your guns and ammo are secure whenever you aren’t home. Thousands of guns are stolen from homes and vehicles each year, so be sure to keep them hidden and locked up at all times.
11. Man’s Best Friend
Most experts will tell you that having a dog (or even the appearance of having a dog) is one of the best ways to keep thieves from attempting to rob you. Aside from the threat of being bitten, dogs are a wildcard that can’t easily be controlled. Even a smaller, yappy dog can cause enough of a disturbance to ruin their plans.
12. General Do’s & Don’ts
Here are a few standards that you won’t want to forget:
- Don’t leave a key under the front door mat (seriously)
- Always keep valuables out of sight
- Keep vehicles locked and avoid letting them warm up in your driveway while you’re inside
- Don’t forget to secure ATV’s, boats & trailers, lawn equipment, tractors, power tools and expensive BBQ’s that you keep outdoors
- Whether you actually have them or not, prominent signs indicating that you have a dog or a security system can always help
Stay safe and have a happy holiday season!
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