There is so much more than a secure home than locked doors and windows. In our 25 years of law enforcement and work with domestic violence, we have seen our fair share of break-ins even with the most obvious safety measures in place. The good news is there are some pretty easy adjustments you can make to make your home safer for you and your family.
Make your street number visible
You may hide your house number to keep door to door salesmen away or to make the pizza delivery guy’s life a little harder, but it’s actually important for your safety to make sure it’s visible. Make sure emergency services wouldn’t lose a second getting to you if you needed them by making sure your house number is 120 mm in height and is visible at night. Also paint the number outside your home on the curb to be extra obvious.
Don’t lie with warning signs
Let people know that your house is protected and secure with signs. Got a dog? Post a sign. Is there a camera? Let potential intruders know. When you install a security system, you will get a sign, so display it. While these signs look a little meaningless to us sometimes, thieves know what to look for to confirm if the signs tell the truth. So, do post signs, but don’t lie!
Fences & Gates
Fences and gates are great at keeping people out, but the most important thing to remember is to be sure your home is still visible from the outside. This decreases places for criminals to hide and allows full visibility in case of an emergency. Consider installing self closing gates that automatically lock. That way you can be sure your gate is secure at all times. Just don’t forget to bring the key with you! Obviously, you can have the best fence ever made, but it won’t help you if it’s broken or run down. So, be sure to maintain them so they stay in good working order.
Trees & shrubs should be trimmed to reduce hiding places and increase visibility to and from the street. Overhanging branches should be trimmed to prevent people using them to access other parts of the property, e.g. using a tree to get to an upper level.
Security lighting should be installed around the perimeter of the property make sure there is light when it’s dark outside. Be sure to check and maintain them so they are in good working order. Additional security lighting should be installed, particularly over entry/exit points. Consider using light timers to turn lights on/off when not at home. Timer globes are also available.
Letterbox & Power Board
Put a lox on your letterbox and keep it locked. Criminals can learn a lot from your mail, so keep it tough to access. Also, the power board should be housed within a locked cabinet so no one can mess with the power supply. Be sure it is approved by your electricity authority.
Garage & Garden Shed
The garage should be locked to restrict access to your house and theft in your garage. Roller, tilt and panel-lift doors can be secured with additional lock sets in the form of hasp, staple, and padlocks. Garden sheds should be locked and securely anchored to the ground so that criminals can’t lift it. Don’t forget to securely lock the windows in both garages and sheds. Garden tools, equipment and ladders should be locked away when not in use to prevent them being used to gain access to your home.
External doors and frames should be of solid construction. Although there are no specific fire regulations that for types of locks, it’s best to use quality deadlocks so you can escape in a hurry if you need to. Locks should be checked and maintained on a regular basis to ensure they are in good working order.
Consider having a peephole (door viewer) installed in the door to monitor people at the door.
Don’t leave your keys in the door when you aren’t home so that thieves can’t use your key to get in and out.
Security/screen doors can be used to provide additional protection and the locks should be in good working order. They should be designed and installed to the Australian Standards.
Window frames should be anchored to the building to prevent easy removal. We recommended that all windows should be fitted with quality key-operated lock sets and kept locked when not in use. Thieves may break glass to unlock windows, so don’t leave keys in the locks.
If you have skylights to your home, keep them suitably secured.
Be sure your glass within doors and windows is reinforced to restrict unauthorized access. You can also reinforce the glass internally with a shatter-resistant adhesive film. If this isn’t an option, replace it with laminated glass. Another option is to install bars or shutters for ultimate security.
Keep track of descriptions/model/serial numbers and even photographs of your belongings for easy identification. It is also always a good idea to have insurance in case something happens. Keeping track of your property is helpful in case it gets stolen, but in case your computer is taken along with the rest of your stuff, back up this document.
Any existing CCTV Cameras should be checked to ensure they are all in good working order to maximise their effectiveness. IP based CCTV cameras with a recording NVR that can provide remote access to your smartphone or computer are the preferred security feature. Victoria Police prefer IP.
Telephones, internet and GPS devices
Pre-program the emergency number 000 into speed dial in your phone. In case you need it and don’t have time to look it up, place a sticker with the telephone number of the emergency and local police number.
Ensure your mobiles and computers are protected with a passcode.
Check the privacy settings on your phone, computer, and GPS devices to make sure you cannot be traced or tracked via technology
For added security for valuables such as jewellery, cash and documents, consider installing a safe. The safe should be well concealed, fixed to the floor or embedded in foundations. This can save your personal possessions from being stolen. Do not leave it open for convenience. The key to the safe should be stored out of sight in a separate room. Buy a safe that is manufactured and installed to the Australian & New Zealand Standards.
Key & Valuables Control
Spare keys should not be hidden outside the home but left with trusted friends or neighbours. Keys should not be left in locks or in view but should be kept in a safe location, as thieves may use them to gain entry to your home or steal your car.
Try to limit the amount of cash kept at home, as it is often targeted by thieves and is often not covered by your insurance.
Intruder Alarm Systems
An intruder alarm system can be used to enhance the physical security of your home. Research has shown that monitored intruder alarm systems are more effective in that they alert your security company of intrusions. The intruder alarm system should be manufactured and installed to the Australian & New Zealand Standards for Domestic Applications. Remember to regularly check the battery and test the system.
Even if you only implement a few of these safety tips, you will be on your way to making you, your family, and your belongings safer. At the very least, be sure that your existing security measures are in efficient working order. There is nothing worse than a bit of bad luck making you wish you had taken the time to make break-ins tougher.
If you would like some help optimizing the security of your home, contact us.