There are about 2,000,000 burglaries in the United States alone each year. That works out to roughly one break-in every six seconds. By the time you finish reading this sentence there will be…yes, chalk it up…another burglary.
And let’s face it. If someone wants what is in your home badly enough they will watch enough Tom Cruise movies to figure out how to get it. Which brings us to…
Do Not Advertise What Is In Your House. Yes, we know you are proud of your exquisite Fabergé egg collection. Is that an actual 1902 Empire Nephrite? We thought that one was lost forever. What do mean, “how do we know about your fetish for jeweled Russian eggs?” You keep them in a display case by the picture window in your living room. We see them every evening as we walk by with the dog. Do you think a potential burglar is not going to be tempted by that collection?
And by the way, congratulations on your new 84-inch television. It does everything your smartphone does and lifesize and in 3D. While we were reading the specs on the box you left out by the curb with the trash we couldn’t help but think you got a “real steal” judging by the sticker price of $18,000. So do not leave the evidence of your big-ticket purchases out waiting for the recycler or you can very well be setting up a real steal inside your house at a future date.
And speaking of advertising…
Do Not Announce to the World that No One Is Home. Over the years, most homeowners have gotten the message to not leave newspapers piling up on the front stoop and un-picked up mail overflowing from the box. Many homeowners have even wised up to the practice of putting interior and exterior lights on timers to present the guise of occupancy.
So what happens now that we are in the digital age? Everyone wants to show the world the pictures of themselves snorkeling with the wrasse fish in Wailea Bay on their Hawaiian vacation. In real time. We are doing this right now! Away from our empty house! Make your social media posts judiciously.
The truth of the matter is that most burglaries are not committed by pros. The next important concept is, “Do Not Make It Easy For Would-Be Thieves Who Really Are Not That Talented.” Do you know the old joke about what to do when hiking with a group of friends in the woods and you encounter a bear? You do not have to be able to out-run the bear. You only have to be able to outrun at least one person in your group.
Safeguarding your house in a neighborhood is a lot like that. Most burglars are just looking for a quick score, an easy break-in. As soon as he or she encounters the least little obstacle it will be on to the next house, and an easier target. To that end, avoid these mistakes…
Do Not Leave Doors Unlocked. What is the most common modus operandi of the average burglar?
Walking up to a house, knocking on the door, getting no answer and turning the doorknob. If your door doesn’t open it will be off to try the same tactic at another house. Just lock your doors.
Do Not Rely on Cheap Locks. Almost as bad as unlocked doors is a flimsy barrier between your cherished possessions and a potential thief. Experienced break-in artists can make short work of standard locks. Paying extra for additional security at the door will pay dividends. Every extra second it takes a would-be burglar to compromise a door lock increases the likelihood the entire attempt will be aborted.
Do Not Leave Ladders in the Yard. You have spent all that good money on fancy locks but left your extension ladder leaning against the back fence. That will work just fine, thank you very much, to get at those unlocked windows on the second floor. Put those handy burglar tools under lock and key.
Keep the Bushes Trimmed Around the House. As long as you are doing your best not to help out the average thief don’t provide working cover at doors and windows with large and unruly shrubs that allow intruders to work away from the watchful eyes of neighbors.
Unless It Is Your Scheduled Night for Stargazing Do Not Leave Your Yard Pitch Black. Burglars like nothing better than to slither around in the dark undetected. Don’t encourage them.
Do Not Leave Keys Hidden in the Yard. Yes, you thrill at a good game of hide-and-seek and you fancy yourself the best darn hider in the world. Trust us. Burglars who have been at their trade for awhile know all the best hiding places. Make friends with a neighbor and leave a spare key over there.
Counting on Your Barking Dog to Deter Thieves. Look at Snoopy lying on the couch. Is he really going to keep your valuables safe? Really? Maybe you’re right. But to be on the safe side, install some good locks and alarms.
Not Shoring Up the Garage Door. The American lust for convenience above all else has given burglars their path of least resistance into most houses. The emergency release lever on an automatic garage door can be triggered by little more than a wire coat hanger in seconds in the hands of a bad guy with a little know-how. Get a key lock for the garage and trade a few moments of inconvenience for some peace of mind.
Start a Home Defense Plan Including Some Smart Protection Systems
It is generally believed that a good defense position can hold against an enemy with 10 times the numbers of the defender. (same guns)
Being a single person defending a house, you should have this goal in mind: to withstand the attack of 10 armed street-smart looters. I’m saying “street-smart” because they’ll probably also have a plan… they may surround your house… or maybe they’ll attack at night or when you least expect it… or maybe they’ll set your house on fire, etc.
When setting up your home defenses keep in mind the military term OCOKA which stands for:
- Observation and fields of fire
- Cover and Concealment
- Key Terrain
- Avenues of Approach
Following these five key principles, you will greatly improve your security and survivability. This is one of the things that I’ve learned from a well-known army officer vet Steve Walker, for whom I have all the respect in the world. Watch his video and learn some fast-tips about protecting your home in time of war or social chaos.
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