Protect your home with security services
by Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List
October is Crime Prevention Month, so it’s a good time to take inventory of your home’s security. Chances are you know someone personally affected by a crime. According to the FBI, there were nearly 11 million reported crimes in the United States last year, affecting roughly one in every 25 people. More than 9 million of those were property crimes.
A recent check with highly rated home alarm companies confirmed past conversations about the most criminally vulnerable spot in the house, and it seems to always surprise homeowners. In the majority of break-ins, the thieves walk right through the unlocked or inadequately secured front door.
While you can’t prevent all property crimes, there are precautions you can take to protect your home from being one of the more than 2 million burglarized each year.
1. Check locks and windows — It sounds simple, but you can significantly lower your chances of becoming a victim by simply installing good locks on doors, and making sure windows are locked and in good working order. Walk around your house and think like a burglar, looking for easy points of entry. Repair any damaged windows or screens. If you’re adding a new lock, talk to your locksmith about adding high-quality locks that can’t be picked or drilled. Be sure to use only locksmiths who come highly referred.
2. Add a security alarm — Studies show that about two-thirds of burglaries attempted on homes armed with a security system will fail. Having a quality alarm can save on home insurance costs, too. Ask about having your garage, barn or shed included as part of your coverage. Many homeowners are also incorporating video surveillance into their systems. Read reviews on alarm companies before you hire, and always read and understand any contract before you sign.
3. Hire a house sitter — If you’re going on vacation or will be away from your home for several days, a house sitter can make it seem like your house is still being lived in by bringing in mail, opening and closing window coverings, and watering plants. Many highly rated pet sitters double as house sitters.
4. Look at your landscaping — Keep your yard free of overgrowth around the house, especially under windows. Select shrubbery with thorns to deter intruders from hiding in them. Trim lower branches of trees near your house if they could help a thief gain access to a second story window. If you’re going to be away for more than two weeks, arrange for someone to mow your lawn.
5. Lights on — Many industry experts say outdoor lighting can reduce the chances of a home burglary by 50 to 70 percent. Low voltage and/or solar powered outdoor lighting can illuminate your property at very little cost. For the inside of your house, install a timer that automatically turns on the lights at night when you’re gone. There are also timers available that will open and close your curtains, and you can program your television to turn on and shut off at different times throughout the day.
The home security industry is finding more ways to protect our homes with so many technical advances in alarms, surveillance and timers. However, technology can’t replace personal vigilance. Let’s all do our part to be good homeowners, good neighbors and be watchful in our communities to help keep them safe.