By Bryan Black
Conducting your own home security assessment to increase your security footprint is crucial in eliminating the one question you don’t want to be left asking yourself after a burglary. “What could I have done to prevent this?”
Fear, as Gavin de Becker explains it in his bestselling book, The Gift of Fear, is a survival signal that sounds in the presence of danger. His #1 rule is that the mere fact you fear crime, is evidence that it’s not actually occurring that very moment. Rule #2 is that what you fear is rarely what you think you fear, it’s what you link to fear.
In the case of crime, what we all really fear is being a victim of theft and the feeling it would leave us with to come home and see our sanctum sanctorum ransacked. True fear is a gift. The fear that a pompous neighbor might have told you they don’t have, or gone further in explaining they don’t have anything worth stealing, isn’t the same thing. That’s nothing more than complacency and complacency kills.
It causes people to leave their doors unlocked and garage doors open, sending a postcard to criminals that they’re open for business. A healthy amount of the right kind of fear is critical in thinking like a criminal and doing everything you can to make your home a harder target.
Perhaps you feel there really isn’t anything of value to you in your home, but how about your life? That may sound outlandish, but a burglary can happen just as easily when you’re home, as when you’re gone. I’m willing to bet there’s at least one person out there who would be devastated if you weren’t around any longer.
Let’s get to the real meat of this article, which is conducting your own home security assessment. What exactly is a home security assessment? It’s looking at your home through the eye of a burglar and identifying critical weaknesses that someone could exploit to gain entry into your home. It’s also looking at the interior of your home for what they’d take if they did gain entry; i.e. window shopping.
Home Security Assessment
Below, you’ll find a list that I’ve compiled from my years of researching home security and my lessons learned in applying these items to my own home. They’re tips and tricks that have evolved as I’ve learned more about lock picking and other devices that have helped me know what to select to make my home a harder target. Many of these may leave you with even more questions, so I’ve tried to add information and links to each item where I can for further reading and product research.
One last thing I’ll leave you with is to always remember, any security is just buying time. That statement is so important I’ll say it again. Security is just buying time. The results that will hopefully come from your home security assessment will only serve to slow down a determined criminal.
If a burglar truly wants into your home, there are only obstacles that can be placed in their way that make it more difficult. That, or hopefully cause them to give up and move on to a different house.
This isn’t to say that security measures don’t work, only that you should be realistic in your expectations. Slowing a criminal down is very important, the less time they have, the better the chance they’ll get caught or never make the attempt to begin with. Most burglaries take place in only 8-12 minutes.
Ok, last thing, I promise. Remember to think twice about entering your home if it looks like it’s been broken into, leaving the premises and calling the police might be the best thing to do first.
Know Your Neighborhood
- Learn your neighborhood by walking the streets. Through this, you’ll start to learn the baseline, or what commonly occurs around you. Changes in the baseline are the first indication that something isn’t right.
- When you leave your home, be observant and maintain your situational awareness. Look around for anything and anyone moving towards you as you get into your vehicle or drive away from your house.
- Before leaving your house, or even before pulling back in when returning, look around for anything that’s out of the ordinary or that’s changed in the baseline. If you see something, say something. All Police Departments have a non-emergency number to report suspicious activities. Look it up and put the number into your phone.
- Meet your neighbors! This may be counter to your thinking and feel that the less people know about you the better, but there’s tremendous value in knowing all your immediate neighbors. They’ll be the first people to notice if something isn’t right at your home, provided they know what to look for.
- Developing a relationship with your neighbors can be mutually beneficial when you leave town. They can pick up any leaflets on your door, or unscheduled newspapers left in your yard and you can offer the same to them.
- During snowy season, having a fresh set of tire tracks in your driveway, or footprints on the sidewalk are important to give the appearance of an active home. Enlist the help of a neighbor if you won’t be home to do this.
- Check to see if your neighborhood uses Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods. It can be a great way to stay in touch with neighbors and keep up with what’s going on around your neighborhood. If your neighborhood doesn’t use it, you can take the lead and start it up!
- If you go out of town, put a hold on your mail with the USPS. It’s free and you can schedule the date for it to resume and your held mail to be re-delivered all at once.
Related article: Home Security Tips from a Master Thief