5 Tips to Enhance Your Home’s Security
According to the FBI, a home burglary occurs somewhere in the United States every 15 seconds, with the majority of residential break-ins happening in daylight while homeowners are away from their houses or condos. When it comes to home security, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has some sage advice. Renowned for his common sense and practical wisdom, Buffett says, “Spend whatever it takes to be the safest and most secure. Then, spend whatever it takes to stay that way.” To help you increase your personal safety, here are five tips for increasing the security of your home.
- Think Like a Burglar. Burglaries are most often committed by young males under 25 years old who are looking for small, costly items such as jewelry, watches, computers, and TVs that they can easily sell for cash. While more than two-thirds of burglars use force to enter a house, they prefer using open doors or windows. In addition to easy access, burglars look for unoccupied homes with easy escape routes. With this in mind, look at your home through the eyes of a would-be burglar. If you typically turn off lights to conserve energy and leave your doors and windows open while you’re at work, you should probably re-think your habits.
- Think Outside Your Home. Safety experts often use the idea of an onion to describe the process of creating a safe, secure home. Depending on where you live, you may need multiple layers of security to thwart break-ins. When you move into a new home, change the locks to high-quality locks and deadbolts if necessary. Keep your car locked when it’s inside your garage. Consider an electronic home security system that can be programmed with different codes for family members, housekeepers, and other home service professionals. In addition to reduced insurance premiums, many systems offer the ability to manage your thermostat and exterior and interior lighting remotely from your phone. Be sure to place the security company’s lawn signs and decals in prominent places, as burglars usually avoid homes marked with security signage.
- Protect Your Belongings. Photograph the contents of your wallet and keep a list of credit card numbers and phone numbers in a safe place. Photograph your valuables (TV, sound systems, computers, small electronics, bikes, skis, snowboards, etc.) and make a list of the items with make, model, serial numbers, and receipts in case you need to file an insurance claim. Keep copies of everything in a safety deposit box at a bank or with a trusted relative. For an extra layer of security, engrave your valuables with your name and address. Take a video of each room in your house with close-ups of your valuables, download the videos onto a flash drive, and keep the flash drive in your safety deposit box. If you keep valuable jewelry and important documents at home, consider getting a home safe. Anchor it securely to the floor or a wall so it can’t be easily removed, and change the code frequently.
- Add Light and Life to Your Home. As burglars typically target homes that are unoccupied, make sure your home is properly illuminated both inside and out. Use landscape lighting to eliminate dark areas outside your house, and consider adding motion-detector lights to your back door and garage door. If you work long hours, use timers to manage exterior lights, as well as lamps, radios, and TVs. If you’re planning a work trip or a vacation, hire someone to mow your lawn, plow your driveway, and shovel your sidewalks.
- Build a Neighborhood Support System. Whether you live in a home, condo, or loft, get to know your neighbors by name, keep their cell phone numbers in your phone, and give them a key to your home. Keep your car keys on your bedside table. If you hear a noise outside your home, activate your car alarm to dispel would-be intruders and alert the neighbors. If you travel frequently, ask them to watch your home, turn lights on and off, and pick up delivered packages, stray newspapers and flyers. Make sure to compensate them for their efforts. If you’re headed out of town for an extended period of time, ask your neighbors to park their cars in front of your house or in your driveway occasionally.
Even if you’re not a billionaire like Buffett, taking steps to develop a home security plan can help create priceless peace of mind.