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Imagine this scenario: You come home from work to find your back door ajar and lock broken, personal effects scattered, electronics pillaged and jewelry missing.
While this episode of home violation might play like a TV commercial, it’s an unfortunate reality plaguing many homeowners. Since 2010, agencies report an increase in burglaries and home invasions across the country, especially in suburbs and small towns.
“The numbers reflect what we have been hearing from listeners all over the country. The bad economy has caused an increase in crime and it is happening everywhere,” says home security expert Alan Young, who has been seen on The Early Show, The Today Show, and the Discovery Channel, as well as numerous local news segments. In recent months, Young conducted nearly 100 radio interviews and offered listeners tips on how not to become victims of a growing burglary and home invasion epidemic. If you think the only solution is to run out, buy and install a home alarm system, think again. Young offers three economical ways to secure your home effectively and prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
1. USE COMMON SENSE
In the age of social media, it’s so easy to make your business the business of other people. How many times have you posted vacation plans on Facebook or photos while still on vacation? “Many burglaries are committed by someone you know or by someone connected to someone you know,” says Young. “Letting the world know that you’re not home is an easy way to become a target.”
2. MAKE YOUR HOME A LESS ATTRACTIVE TARGET
It may sound crazy, but according to Young, “If you and your neighbor are being chased by a dog, you don’t need to be faster than the dog, just your neighbor. Make your home a less attractive target and thieves will go somewhere else – unless you have something that they really want.” This doesn’t mean you need to paint your house a hideous color or leave your holiday decorations up all year. There are other ways to deter burglars without cosmetically destroying your home. For example, cut down your shrubs so no one can hide behind them, and make sure your house is properly lit, both inside and out; the less opportunity for a perpetrator to lurk in the shadows the better.
3. SECURE THE EXTERIOR OF YOUR HOME
Here’s the 411 on alarm systems…they simply tell you someone is inside the house and, 20 minutes later, the police or security guard respond to check things out. They’re noisy and jarring, but not terribly efficient in preventing burglars from snatching a flat screen on his way out the back door.
“Alarms are a good addition to your home’s security, but 85 percent of all break-ins are through a door,” Young notes. “Secure your doors and you greatly increase your likelihood of success against burglars.” For door security, head to Lowe’s or Ace Hardware and buy an inexpensive kit, like EZ Armor, that reinforces the jamb, locks and hinges on an exterior entry door. The kit is a DIY job that can be installed in about 30 minutes and will help prevent kick-ins. Also, upgrade your deadbolt to an ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certified lock. There are several models, including one from Schlage, which can be purchased at many hardware stores.
“Security does not need to cost a lot, it just needs to work,” Young says. “With a little common sense and a little effort you can effectively secure your home.”