We live in a fairly nice neighborhood, in a low crime area. So it was very unsettling to have a police officer knock on my door last night to let me know that my next door neighbor's bathroom window was broken into and their house had been robbed. While I was at home, surfing pinterest while one of my boys laid on the couch with a headache. No tv was on. The only thing running was my dishwasher. I stopped it several times to see what the noise I kept hearing was, but never figured it out. In all honesty, I did not really even hear their alarm blaring.
My neighbor's were not home, their house was dark and we have a nice open green space behind our house. It was a prime opportunity. But it also meant someone was casing the houses. Someone watched long enough to know which house to get, and the best plan. That has been the most upsetting part to me. My children had played outside most of the day that day.
So today's post is compiling tips that most will probably already know, but it never hurts to have a reminder huh? Better safe than sorry so to speak. Please know that I am not an expert and am not offering a safe-never-to-be-broken-into home. This is my disclaimer that I will not be held responsible should something unfortunately happen to your home.
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
We pride ourselves on being friendly with all our neighbors. I know which ones I can call when say I run out of sugar, or my son breaks his arm and I need an emergency babysitter. The neighbor who was robbed has been our neighbor for almost 5 years. A very quiet couple. They have no children. We rarely see them, mainly when they are going from the house to the car. I'm so embarrassed to say I do not know their names. I can name almost everyone 5 houses down either way on either side, but not them. I know that we LOVE them as neighbors. They are very quiet. If my boys throw a ball over the fence we will find it back in our yard a few days later. So when the Police Man asked us for contact information for them I felt like a total failure. Make a list of your neighbors, map it out, and ask for contact info. Put this handy paper in your Home Binder. Better yet, start a Neighborhood Watch!
2. PUMP UP YOUR DOOR'S STRENGTH
At our HOA yearly meeting they always bring this subject up. It simply takes a trip to the hardware store and an easy installation of better screws. Yesterday the news was all a buzz about this amazing Mom who protected her child http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20559188,00.html?xid=rss-topheadlines
What amazed me the most was it took the men almost 20 minutes to kick in her door. That was plenty of time to call 911 and get the things one would need to protect themselves.
Reinforcing the door helps so much, and is a simple fix. Here is an easy article on This Old House that explains the technique. Of course this is only effective if you LOCK YOUR DOORS! So please don't forget that important step!
3. REINFORCE YOUR WINDOW LOCKS
Another inexpensive, easy DIY project is to add extra latches or blocks to your windows to prevent them from opening enough to squeeze through. Your local Blue or Orange store will be able to help you choose the best type for your windows. They usually also have pamphlets that include lots of tips!
4. LIGHT UP THE NIGHT
Keep lights on on the outside. If you are concerned about electrical consumption, buy the solar kind. But please don't leave your house dark. Its an invitation waiting to be answered. If you are going to be out of town, set your tv and house lights on timers.
5. PLANT THE RIGHT PLANTS
Most plants should be trimmed so that they are not good hiding spots. I also like to plant prickly uncomfortable plants that make the spot less inviting.
6. DON'T OPEN THE DOOR TO STRANGERS
Oprah warned us years ago, but most of us don't listen. They look so official with their tag and uniform. I personally scream through the glass and tell them I don't accept solicitors. Our community requires a permit. If they can't produce it, I call the NON-EMERGENCY police line and report them. And then I had the one that wouldn't leave. That one was a 911 call. The police are always very polite and have assured me they would rather write a little report on that, than a big one on a burglary or worse.
7. USE COMMON SENSE AND TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
Its so hard not to post the picture of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, or on the canals of Venice on your Facebook.....but please wait until you are HOME. Nothing says "rob my house", like the posting saying you are enjoying your vacation and tagging your location 1,000 miles away. And yes, more than likely your friends (Hopefully) won't rob you, but we've all seen how easy it is to click from friend to friend to stranger on Facebook.
Most victims of crime will tell you they felt something was off, but didn't want to be rude. TRUST YOUR GUT. If its telling you something, forget about being polite. One can always apologize later, but one can not take back being a victim.
8. CALL IN THE EXPERTS
I am not an expert and am in no way involved in law enforcement, security, etc. However, they are out there, and they are more than happy to help you out! Call your local Police Dept. They will usually come out and inspect your house and give you helpful tips. Security Companies are all around, but be sure to get several references from trust worthy people. Most insurance companies offer discounts on your homeowners insurance if you have a security system.
Sorry this post has been a bummer, but hopefully it will get you thinking about ways you can beef up your home! Here is another handy brochure that can help you with this subject
Do you have any other suggestions? Feel free to leave a comment!
This post I'm linking up to Home Stories A to Z! Later this week I'll be posting my goals for the blog this year! Thanks for visiting!