The following are 7 tips to defend yourself against the threat of a home invasion. I omitted obvious things like a home alarm system or having someone house sit when you're on vacation, because I wanted to focus more on the threat of someone coming in while you're home or out for the night. The possibility of being caught off guard like in your sleep or walking into a robbery in progress have more serious implications to your safety. These are just 7 easy things you can start doing immediately to ensure that you're as prepared as possible in the event of a home invasion.
7. Spare Key
The whole spare key thing hidden somewhere in case of an emergency is a dangerous habit. Any hiding place you can think of would probably be discovered by anyone who was persistent enough to search around. Even special hiding places like a fake rock that you can buy is a waste of money, in my opinion. Usually. home invaders scout the location for at least a few days before making a move, so it wouldn't take long for them to have all the information they need to get in. Take this as an excuse to get to know your neighbors a bit. Once you get to know someone on your street well enough to trust them, swap keys with them in case of emergency. This is also a figurative gateway for you and your neighbors to develop an interest in each other's safety and you'll have someone to check in on your place when you're out of town. It's a great feeling knowing that your neighborhood looks out of each other.
6. Perimeter SweepIf you live in a house with a lawn and a back yard, make sure you keep everything tidy outside. This applies to homes without that as well. Leaving ladders, step ladders, garbage cans or anything else that can facilitate a break-in will be found by intruders. Things like leaving a garbage can close to the fence can help someone gain access to your back yard. Make sure all plants are well trimmed so that you're not giving a burglar any kind of cover when they're stalking your windows. The more open and cluster-free your surrounding space is the more likely you or a neighbor will spot a break-in attempt and call the authorities. Also you don't want to be giving criminals extra tools to rob you. Even a carelessly placed loose brick can be used to break a lock, door or window.
5. Locked Windows and Doors
This might seem obvious but people often let it slide. The simpler something is, the more it's neglected. Front doors aren't the only point of access to your home, just the most used. Back doors are often left unlocked. Just know that leaving even a little space is enough for an intruder to pry your window open and gain entry without being heard. For sliding doors or windows, place something in the track to prevent someone from being able to slide it open from outside. This is a simple trick that won't put you in danger when you need to get out in a hurry (like a fire). In fact, putting anything in the vicinity of your access points that can be easily be moved in an emergency can buy you a few extra seconds and notify you when someone's breaking in. Even something that could just make a little noise can give you a much-needed warning. It can be as simple as placing furniture in front or near your doors and windows before you go to bed and moved in the morning.
4. Timed Lights
Having automatic timers for your lights is extremely useful and popular for when you're on vacation, but can also be used on a regular basis. If you have any reason at all to think that your home is being scouted, start using the timers at all hours of the day. Use them when you're home, when you're out, for the inside lights and for the outside lights. Occasionally have them come on in the middle of the night. By doing this and changing the timing settings regularly, anyone trying to figure out your pattern will be confused. This alone can make a potential burglar move on to another, more predictable home.
Side note: having sensor lights for your outside (front and back) is also enough to discourage break-ins. Also this will give you warning that someone is on your property.
3. Control What They See
Be mindful of what you're showing people. Think about what someone would see if they looked in your window right now. Seeing you (dressed, hopefully) once in a while is a good thing. It lets people know that at least one person is home. Try not to sit in sight for too long at once though. This could help a home invader develop a strategy on how they want to break in or establish a behavioral pattern for when you're home. If they only see you randomly, they won't know where you are or if you're even home. Also keep valuables away from the windows. Don't give anyone any kind of incentive on breaking in. If they can see a nice TV from the window or if you're working on your expensive laptop facing a window, you'll be providing a real incentive for anyone casing your home. Keep everything worth stealing out of sight as much as possible.
A wise person once told me to always keep the shower curtain open (or buy a clear one) because studies have shown that one of the most popular places for someone to hide if you came home during a robbery is in the shower with the curtain drawn. Most people never think to check behind the curtain when going to the bathroom and that can leave you vulnerable. If you know for a fact that you always keep it open and you come home to it closed, you can then proceed with caution. Another popular place to hide is the corner of the room behind an open door. Make sure when checking a room to open the door all the way. In the event that someone is hiding behind it at least you won't let them catch you off-guard. When going out, leave closet doors open for the same effect as the shower curtain. If you know you left everything open when you left and you came back to something closed, you'll know at least that something isn't right.
1. Keep Weapons Close To You, Not Them
here. Keep all weapons and household items away from windows and doors when possible, reducing the chance that an invader will pick it up and use it against you when they realize someone's home. On the other hand, keeping objects that can be used as improvised weapons close to you can help in an emergency. I'm a security worker so I keep a baton by my bed, my computer and the couch. These are my 3 most visited areas and the places I'm most likely to be in if there was a break-in. I also have something hidden in my bathroom because that is one of the most vulnerable places in your home. If the shower is running, you might not even hear someone enter! As mentioned earlier, don't leave these in sight of windows. Have them carefully hidden and make sure that anyone you might live with knows about this to ensure their safety.
These are simple steps to increasing your safety in the event of a break-in. The idea is to minimize the chances of this happening in the first place by making your home look as un-appealing as possible to burglars. It might seem like this is "7 steps to living paranoid", but my intentions are the opposite. For me, I feel more paranoid and vulnerable when I DON'T take these steps. Just the simple act of preparing myself gives me back some control in a scary situation. I hope this helps. If any of you have questions or tricks of your own make sure to let us know in the Comments section.
Fight or Die