June 5 , 2013
- Plan to “burglarize” yourself. You’ll discover any weaknesses in your security system that may have previously escaped your notice.
- Lock up your home, even if you go out only for a short time. Many burglars just walk in through an unlocked door or window.
- Change all the locks and tumblers when you move into a new house.
- For the most effective alarm system, conceal all wiring. A professional burglar looks for places where he or she can disconnect the security system.
- Your house should appear occupied at all times. Use timers to switch lights and radios on and off when you’re not at home.
- If you have a faulty alarm that frequently goes off, get it fixed immediately and tell your neighbors that it’s been repaired. Many people ignore an alarm that goes off periodically.
- A spring-latch lock is easy prey for burglars who are “loiding” experts. Loiding is the method of slipping a plastic credit card against the latch tongue to depress it and unlock the door. A deadbolt defies any such attack. It is only vulnerable when there is enough space between the door and its frame to allow an intruder to use power tools or a hacksaw.
- If you lose your keys, change the locks immediately.
- Before turning your house key over to a professional house cleaner for several hours, make sure the person is honest and reputable as well as hardworking. Check all references thoroughly. If the house cleaner is from a firm, call your local Better Business Bureau to check on the firm’s reputation.
- Instead of keeping a spare key in a mailbox, under the doormat, or on a nail behind the garage, wrap the key in foil — or put it in a 35mm film can — and bury it where you can easily find it if you need it.
- Don’t leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These act as a welcome mat for a burglar.
- If the entrances to your home are dark, consider installing lighting with an infrared detector. Most thieves don’t want to be observed trying to get in a door.
- Talk to your neighbors about any suspicious people or strange cars you notice lurking about.
- To keep your tools from being stolen, paint the handles. Thieves avoid items that are easy to identify.
- Trees located near windows or shrubbery that might shield a burglar from view can be major flaws in your home-protection plan. Consider your landscaping plan in light of your protection needs.
Avoid a room with a view. A view from the outside, that is.
Stand outside your house and take notice of what you can see through the windows.
Is your 62-inch television in plain sight from the sidewalk? Can you see your computer or other valuable electronics from the doorway?
If you can see them, so can thieves. If possible, move valuables out of sight of the street. If you can’t, then make sure the windows are always covered.
Ask for credentials from any sales-person who requests entry to your home. Ask that their ID be pushed under the door. Many professional burglars use this cover to check out homes. If you’re doubtful, check with the person’s office before letting him or her in.
- Do not list your full name on your mailbox or your entry in the telephone book. Use only your initial and your last name.
- If someone comes to your door asking to use the phone to call a mechanic or the police, keep the door locked and make the call yourself.
- Dogs are good deterrents to burglars. Even a small, noisy dog can be effective — burglars do not like to have attention drawn to their presence. Be aware, however, that trained guard dogs do not make good pets. Obedience training and attack training are entirely different, and only the former is appropriate for a house pet.
- To help burglar-proof your home, install 1-inch throw deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
- A door with too much space between the door and the frame is an invitation for the burglar to use a jimmy. Reinforce the door with a panel of 3/4-inch plywood or a piece of sheet metal.
- If there are door hinges on the outside of your house, take down the door and reset the hinges inside. Otherwise all a thief has to do to gain entry to your home is knock out the hinge pin.
- You can burglar-proof your glass patio doors by setting a pipe or metal bar in the middle bottom track of the door slide. The pipe should be the same length as the track.
- It’s easy for a burglar to pry through rot. Replace rotted door frames with new, solid wood.
- It’s simple for a thief to break glass panels and then reach in and open a doorknob from the inside. A door with glass panels should be either fortified, replaced, or secured with deadbolts that can only be opened with a key.
- Protect your windows with one or more good locks, an alarm system, burglar-resistant glass, or many small panes instead of one large area of glass.
- When installing a window lock, drip some solder on the screw heads. It will stop a burglar from unscrewing the lock after cutting a small hole in the windowpane.
Garages present special challenges for security. Here are some tips for keeping your garage secure.
- If you frost or cover your garage windows, burglars won’t be able to tell if your car is gone.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked even when your car is not in the garage.
- Install a peephole in the door separating the house from the garage. If you hear suspicious sounds, you can check without opening the door.
- Are you worried about someone entering your house through your attached garage? If the garage door lifts on a track, a C-clamp can provide extra security since the door cannot be opened if you tighten the C-clamp on the track next to the roller.
Burglars can’t steal what they can’t see. This simple concept is the key to a burglary protection system.
One of the more frightening and potentially dangerous crimes that can occur to a family is a home invasion robbery.
A home invasion is when robbers force their way into an occupied home, apartment or hotel room to commit a robbery or other crimes. It is particularly frightening because it violates our private space and the one place that we think of as our sanctuary.
Home invasion is like the residential form of an automobile carjacking and it’s on the rise. Like the crime of carjacking, most police agencies don’t track home invasions as a separate crime. Most police agencies and the FBI will statistically record the crime as a residential burglary or a robbery. Without the ability to track the specific crime of home invasion, little can be done to alert the public as to the frequency of occurrence in their community or devise a law enforcement plan of action to control it.
Residential burglars work mostly during the day and when a residence is more likely to be unoccupied. Most burglars work alone and tend to probe a neighborhood looking for the right residence and the right opportunity. Alarm signs and decals, bars on windows, strong locks and doors, big dogs, and alert neighbors can sometimes deter burglars. Also, burglars will avoid a confrontation and will usually flee when approached. Most burglaries do not result in violence unless the criminal is cornered and uses force to escape.
Home invasion robbers, in contrast, work more often at night and on weekends when homes are more likely to be occupied. The home invader will sometimes target the resident as well as the dwelling. The selection process may include a woman living alone, a wealthy senior citizen or a known drug dealer, for example. It is not unheard of for a robber to follow you home based on the value of the car you are driving or the jewelry you are wearing. Some home invaders might have been in your home before as a delivery person, installer or repair vendor. Home robbers rarely work alone and rely on an overwhelming physical confrontation to gain initial control and instill fear in you. The greatest violence usually occurs during the initial sixty seconds of the confrontation and home invaders often come prepared with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, and firearms. Some in-home robbers appear to enjoy the intimidation, domination, and violence and some even claim it’s a “rush.”
The act of committing a home invasion is escalating much like carjacking. The reason for the increase seems to follow a similar pattern. Much like automobiles, the traditional commercial targets for robbers like convenience stores and fast-food restaurants have hardened themselves against criminal attack and have reduced available cash. Technology has allowed commercial establishments to install affordable video surveillance systems, silent alarms, and other anti-crime deterrent devices. A residence, by comparison, is now a more attractive choice.
Home invaders know that they won’t have to overcome alarm systems when the home is occupied or be worried about video cameras and silent alarms. Unlike robbing a retail store, home invaders expect privacy once inside your home and won’t have to deal with the police suddenly driving up or customers walking in. Once the offenders take control of a residence they can force the occupants to open safes, locate hidden valuables, supply keys to the family car, and PIN numbers to their ATM cards. Home invaders will try to increase their escape time by disabling the phones and sometimes will leave their victims bound or incapacitated. It is not unheard of for robbers to load up the victim’s car with valuables and drive away without anyone in the neighborhood taking notice.
Method of Operation
The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage. Sometimes the home invader will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside. More common is when the home invaders knock on the door first or ring the bell. The home invader hopes that the occupant will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock. Unfortunately, many people do just that.
Home invaders will sometimes use a ruse or impersonation to get you to open the door. They have been known to pretend to be delivering a package, flowers or lie about an accident like hitting your parked car. Once the door is opened for them, the home invaders will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control of the home and produce fear in the victims. Once the occupants are under control the robbers will begin to collect your valuables.
Some home robbers have been known to spend hours ransacking a residence while the homeowners are bound nearby watching in terror. Some robbers have been known to eat meals, watch TV, or even take a nap. A major fear is that the robbers might commit more violence like sexual assault or even murder. Some robbers have kidnapped and forced a victim to withdraw cash from their ATM machine or take them to their small business to rob it as well.
The same tactics used to prevent daytime burglaries will go a long way to preventing forced entry home robberies. If you can delay a home invader at the point of entry then you have a chance of deterring them or have time to call the police. A solid core door, strong locks with reinforced strike plates, and reinforced window devices will stop most forced entries. See my web page on Home Security Tips for more information. Some homeowners build safe rooms inside their home to allow them to retreat or escape the violence while giving them valuable time to call the police.
The weakest home security link is the home occupant who fails to lock doors or windows or who will open the door without question at the sound of a knock. The best defense against home invasion is education and planning. Parents should hold a family meeting to discuss how to answer the door when someone knocks. Another important topic is how to act should your home or family be invaded. Once you know how home robbers work, you can effectively prevent most occurrences.
ABP World Group Risk Management
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