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Home Security 101

Home burglaries are typically crimes of opportunity. Criminals are looking for homes that appear unoccupied. And contrary to popular belief most home break-ins do not occur at night.

Here are our top tips to make your home appear occupied, maintained, and protected.

Home Security Tip 1

Install cameras. Today there are several options for home security cameras. Stick with well-known brands. Your camera choice should provide at least 14 days of video storage, analytics, and customizable settings for alerts.  Make sure your camera will work at night. Ideally, your cameras will cover all sides of your house but if you can’t do that right away start with the front where people and vehicles approach your house.  Many systems can be expanded over time. You will have to decide between a wireless internet-based system that stores video online or a locally hard-wired system that stores video on a DVR in your house. The latter is generally more expensive and may require professional installation. There are pros and cons to both systems, so it’s best to research which option is best for you.

Home Security Tip 2

Make your home look occupied when you are away. Whether it’s a few days or an extended period, let your neighbors know you’re out so they are more alert to unusual activity around your home. If you’ve gone for a short period, ask your neighbors to pick up your mail and take out or return your trash bins. If you are away for an extended time, set up a mail hold or forwarding at the post office. Set a couple of commonly used lights on a timer. If you have multiple vehicles, consider leaving one in the driveway. Stop posting all your vacation pics on social media while you’re gone. Save that for one great post when you return. If you’re gone for a long time, arrange to have someone mow your lawn, or remove snow from your driveway if live as far North as we do.

Home Security Tip 3

Upgrade your front door lock. The front door is the most common point of entry in a home invasion. This becomes priority #1 when you are a new homeowner. Spend more than $10 on the door lock and deadbolt set. Look for high-security locks and deadbolts and when you install them and replace those with 1” screws with 3” screws. The longer screws will anchor the locks beyond the trim and into the wood framework around the door. Also, consider replacing the hinges with security hinges and installing them with longer screws. Contact a local locksmith if you need to have several sets of locks set to a single key. Make sure the locksmith is using high-security components.

Home Security Tip 4

Secure all first-floor windows at night and while you are away. This seems easy enough but what if you want to leave a couple of windows cracked at night during the warmer months? Consider buying a window security pin set. Window security pins can be installed for about $3 a window, and they allow you to leave your window partially open but make it very difficult to open the window further from the outside. Window pins should be set so that the window can be opened no more than 3-4”.

Home Security Tip 5

Install working smoke detectors on every floor of your home. There are about 350,000 home fires per year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Place them in higher-risk spots, such as the kitchen, laundry room, and utility rooms where the furnace and water heater are located. Change the batteries in your fire detectors every 6 months. Keep a fire extinguisher in the house, the kitchen is a great place to keep a small fire extinguisher but having one in your bedroom may make the difference in being able to get out of the house. Create an escape plan and share it with everyone who lives in your home.

Home Security Tip 6

Protect your network. When you log into your home Wi-Fi you can see all the home networks in your neighborhood – and everyone in the area can see yours. Many home networks are left with the default manufacturer name and password. Your router’s internal settings can be accessed as well as the default login for that portal when left on manufacturer settings. If this is the case, someone can easily log in to your router and change the password — allowing them access to your network and anything connected to your network. Check your router manufacturer’s instructions for changing the Wi-Fi name and password and the router login credentials.

Home Security Tip 7

Maintain your home and your yard. Following the Broken Windows Theory, damage to a home’s exterior and a poorly maintained yard leaves the impression that a home is not occupied. This appears as a lower risk to a criminal.

Home Security Tip 8

Keep your blinds closed. Open blinds allow people to easily observe activity in your home. Keep your blinds drawn as often as possible but especially at night.

Home Security Tip 9

Lighting is an inexpensive deterrent to crime and can be highly effective when done correctly. Replacing the lights at your front door and on the front of the garage with motion-sensing lights is a great start. Consider also installing lights on other detached buildings and sheds. If you don’t have power in your shed, consider a solar-powered light. Lights should always point away from the home, not at it. More light is better but also be considerate of your neighbors when installing. Too much constant light at night may not be what they are looking for.

Home Security Tip 10

Got a long driveway? Consider adding a driveway alarm to alert you when someone is approaching your home. These handy units can be had for $35 – $100 and are easy to install. The motion sensor sends a signal to an alarm in your house that chimes like a doorbell. Some units detect all motion and others use a laser screen that sets off the alarm when the laser is interrupted. If you have a lot of vehicle or pedestrian traffic you won’t want a motion sensor near the end of your driveway.

Home Security Tip 11

Don’t give criminals a place to hide while they do their work. Large overgrown bushes around your house give criminals a great place to hide while they are checking out your home. Keep bushes that are close to the house well-trimmed and consider adding lighting where other obstructions exist.

Home Security Tip 12

Add security film to all the windows on your first floor. When properly installed, security film increases the time it takes to break a window from seconds to minutes! This gives you ample warning time, and it forces the criminal to make a lot of noise and spend a lot of effort to get past your windows.

Home Security Tip 13

Got a long driveway? Consider adding a driveway alarm to alert you when someone is approaching your home. These handy units can be had for $35 – $100 and are easy to install. The motion sensor sends a signal to an alarm in your house that chimes like a doorbell. Some units detect all motion and others use a laser screen that sets off the alarm when the laser is interrupted. If you have a lot of vehicle or pedestrian traffic you won’t want a motion sensor near the end of your driveway.

Home Security Tip 14

Prepare for overnight. Lock your vehicle and bring in any valuable belongings. If you leave a car in the driveway, bring your garage door opener in with you. Smashing a car window and pressing the button on a garage door is possibly the quickest way for a criminal to access your house. And don’t forget to lock the interior door to your garage at night.

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