Uncle Bobs Tips

How To Invite A Burglar Into Your Home

How To Invite A Burglar Into Your Home

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Invitation #1 - Put up phony protection warning signs

"Warning: These premises are protected by the ABC Company". While there is no harm in using such signs, don’t rely on them for protection! Serious burglars need only to look in the phonebook to know if an alarm company really exists or not.

Valid protection signs, however, may be useful as part of your overall home security plan. Most companies won't let non-customers display their emblem, and burglars know that, too.

Invitation #2 - Choose the first security company you hear about

If you are hiring a security company to have your home alarm installed, always use a licensed company to install, repair, or service an alarm system. While licenses do not guarantee honesty, they do indicate that the vendor is registered and has met minimum criteria. Look for a company that has developed a strong history of quality and service. Read about different brands and types of systems and talk to friends and neighbors that have alarm systems. It is recommended that you speak to at least three security alarm companies about their product and service prior to purchasing any alarm system. Remember, you get what you pay for in many cases.

Invitation #3 - Rely solely on your alarm system for protection

In fact, the experts advise that you combine several approaches with a professionally monitored electronic alarm system. Here are some ideas for when you travel away from home:

Have a neighbor pick up your newspapers and your mail daily. Let some neighbors know your plans.

Leave a car parked in the driveway, or ask a neighbor to park in your driveway.

Use timers to turn lights on and off at certain times, altering the lighting patterns to create an occupied look.

Arrange to have your lawn mowed. Be sure your trees and hedges have been trimmed.

Invitation #4 - Buy a loud local alarm system and hope that someone will call the police if it goes off!

Local alarm systems - those which sound only on the protected premises - are only somewhat effective, especially when laws limit the time signals can sound in order to avoid disturbing the neighbors. Investing in a local alarm also means relying on good Samaritans or conscientious neighbors to call the police to respond.

Instead, the security savvy claim that no matter how advanced your system may be, it is only as good as the service that is monitoring your home. A key consideration when choosing your security company is the features of their monitoring service. Virtually all companies will offer 24 hour monitoring, but there are other aspects of recommended service that you should look for, including:

  • Cellular or radio backup: Alarm systems are monitored through your phone line. Besides the threat of burglars cutting your phone line before they enter your home, your phone service can be disabled due to bad weather, equipment failures, etc. A back-up system, using either cellular or radio technology, provides constant monitoring of your service and can alert the security company when the standard phone system is disabled.
  • System testing: Many security companies have testing capabilities for your home system. Signals are sent on an interval basis (usually once daily) to verify that the system is enabled and the phone line is operable. Ask your company what type of testing they provide and what steps are taken if the test detects a system failure.
  • Maintenance: Look for a company that offers annual maintenance. Your security system should be tested and cleaned once a year to ensure optimal performance.
  • Invitation #5 - Choose a complicated keypad code that no one else will guess or remember

    In fact, the experts recommend choosing a system that is user-friendly! In order to avoid false alarms, make sure that inputting codes into the keypad is not a complicated process and that the code is one everyone in the family can learn easily. Ensure that all users are trained with the system. Further, make sure everyone knows how to clear an incorrect code if they make a mistake with the keypad, and if a false alarm is set off, that they call to ensure the police are not dispatched.

    Invitation #6 - Stop them dead with a dead bolt lock

    Since most burglaries occur through a door, a dead bolt lock is a good start. However, it is not enough. The frame, door and lock must work together to resist physical attack. The frame, for example, must be reinforced around the striking plate or else the lock can be pried open by bending the frame, or the door can be simply kicked in.

    Your other perimeters need protection as well. Most alarm systems come with the following common components to protect both your home interior and its periphery:

  • Window or door screen wires: These components are activated if the screen is removed from its frame.
  • Door and window contacts: Magnetic contacts create an electrical current between adjoining magnets on a door and its doorframe, or a window and its windowsill. If the door or window is opened, the current is broken and the alarm is tripped.
  • Panic buttons: These buttons can be manually activated if you suspect an intruder and can be placed near beds or doorways. These buttons can also be wireless and can be carried or worn as a necklace.
  • Glass breakage sensors: Components placed on windows that detect vibrations when glass is broken.
  • Stress sensors: Sensors placed under rugs, carpets, or floor joists that activate when stepped upon. These sensors are often used in front of safes or valuable pieces of art. If you have high-value assets inside your home, there are devices available to extend alarm protection to these items. You can alarm a closet used as "strong-room", a display case for collectibles, a safe or vault, or wall-hung artwork. Any competent alarm vendor can devise a means to protect almost any asset.
  • Closed-circuit TV: An internal television system that allows you to view a particular area of your house or property remotely.
  • Motion detectors: These sensors use infrared beams to detect any motion inside the house and should be placed in central areas like main hallways and stairwells.
  • Outdoor motion flood light sensors: Used to cover the outside perimeter of a house, especially windows that are particularly vulnerable.
  • Note that for interior sensory devices, the least susceptible to false alarms are passive infra-red sensors (which are thermostats that detect the presence of a human intruder by comparing the 98.6 degree body heat to the usual atmospheric temperature which is typically between fifty-five and seventy-five degrees). Pets, air currents, rodents, and other similar sources will not set off passive infrared devices and generate false alarms. Finally, you need to decide whether you intend to use the system when you're home, or only when you're out. Consider your lifestyle. Does anyone in the family get up often in the middle of the night for a snack? Do you have a large pet that roams the house at night? These questions will influence the type of motion sensor you select and how it is installed.

    Invitation #7 - Surround your house with large hedges and shrubs

    Thick brushes and trees are an intruder’s best friend, hampering visibility and providing concealment both before and after a crime!

    Trim shrubbery and trees so doors and windows are visible to neighbors, and from the street. Place trellises where they can't be used as ladders to the upper floors, and trim trees adjacent to the house such that the lower branches are more than 6 feet off the ground. Plants under windows should be maintained at a height that is below the windowsill.

    A great tip is to place gravel on the ground near windows. The noise caused by intruders walking on it can become a psychological deterrent. Similarly, plant thorny plants along fences and under windows, which will discourage even the most nimble intruder. Don’t place river rocks or other items near glass windows or doors – don’t provide the burglar with his tools!

    Invitation #8 - Never lock your garage

    Police Department statistics show that approximately 40% of non-forced entry home intrusions are through open garage doors! Your garage door should be securely locked at all times (even when you are home). Keeping it locked is just as important as keeping your home locked, especially if the garage is attached to your house. Further, once inside the garage a burglar can work uninterrupted at getting into the house. Fences and locked gates are also great robber deterrents.

    Invitation #9 - Turn off the lights!

    It is a known fact that good lighting is a deterrent to crime. While any lighting will help reduce your risk of becoming of a victim, using lights properly will be even more effective.

    Exterior lights near doors and in the rear of the house are critical, as are lights in garages (almost every garage door opener made today has a light that comes on when the opener is activated, lighting the garage interior).

    As for interior lights, most residents usually leave a "burglar beacon" on when they go out for the evening – that is, a small light that is left on so they don't walk into a dark house when they come home (a light above the sink or the hallway light). Unfortunately, these lights are a signal for the criminal that no one is home! If you go out for an evening, leave a radio and several lights on. When you go on vacation, put at least two lights and a radio on timers, making it look like someone is home. Contact your local Police Department and sign up for a Vacation Watch. Similarly, closed blinds during the day are a sure sign of an empty house, and they allow a burglar who succeeds in entry to attend to his business unseen by neighbors. Best advice: Leave drapes and shades open.

    Invitation #10 - Display your décor through the window

    Most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Burglars scout and pick what appears to be an easy and/or lucrative mark. The more you do to keep your home from looking like an easy or worthwhile target, the safer you are. Follow this advice:

  • Don't keep large sums of money in your home.
  • Don't let strangers in to "use your telephone." Don't admit "service reps" from utilities unless you have an appointment or can verify their authenticity.
  • Don't leave notes on your door or hide a key (leave one with a trusted neighbor).
  • Don't display expensive items in plain view through your window.
  • On your answering machine, use a generic message that does not state that you are not home.
  • Don't answer personal questions on telephone surveys.

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