Home Defense: Strengthen and Deter

I think we would all agree that waking up in the middle of the night with a home intruder standing over us is not the optimal outcome.  Much better would be waking up well in advance to the sound of the break-in and being prepared to defend hearth and home.  Better yet, harden the home so that it is far less likely to be chosen in the first place.  Here I am going to offer you several simple things to consider that don’t cost much, take very little time, and will go a long way in securing your home from criminal intrusion.

Keep Your Doors Locked

Sounds so simple, but consider it carefully.  Do you lock your doors?  I bet you do, but perhaps you only do when you go to bed.  That should change.  Keep your doors locked at all times.  Lock the deadbolt as well as the knob.  You need an initial barrier of home defense that can provide you with at least some warning at all times of the day or night.  An unlocked door can be opened without you even knowing it.  A door with only the knob locked is usually a one-kick door.  A properly re-enforced dead bolt can go a long way in making the one-kick door a multiple-kick door.  This means you have time to prepare as the door is being kicked down.  Lock your doors all the time, day or night.  Inconvenient?  Maybe.  But we live in an inconvenient world.

Harden the Doors

The doors are the portals to the home and they are the most common point of breach into the house.  Criminals usually avoid smashing windows, no doubt due to the significant risk of getting cut to ribbons on the shards of glass.  Still, ensure that you have securely locking windows and be sure to keep them locked.  The door, however, is statistically the most likely portal of breach.  Be sure that you have both a knob that locks and a deadbolt on each exterior door.  It is worth the effort of sinking extended screws into the frame for the strike plate of both the knob and deadbolt as this will make it harder to breach the door with kicks.

Another excellent security mechanism that can be bought cheap and applied to all doors at least at night is a security bar.  These work very well.  If stuck tightly under the knob the door becomes extremely difficult to force open.  I have found though that these security bars can slip if on tile, so a simple door mat underneath can often solve this issue.  Such a bar makes the door very resilient against forced entry and will delay the intruders thus giving you more time and more warning.

Another very affordable installment is security alarms for the individual doors.  A good alarm system that can be armed from a central keypad and that is monitored by a security company may be worth it.  Some can be monitored by you remotely through an application on your phone.  These are nice options but they are an ongoing expense.  If you don’t want to invest in such a security system I would advise at least putting alarms on each door that can be armed separately.  These are little devices that sound a load alarm if the door opens and they can be activated with a switch.  They can also be set to simply chime when the door opens which is useful for the daylight hours as at least this alerts you to when the door opens.

A final alarm system that is worth considering, of course, is a good dog.  You either want a dog or you don’t, and I am not sure this will be the deciding factor for many people, but nothing gets past an alert dog.  Unfortunately some K9s are quite worthless in this regard, but an alert dog is the single best alarm system you can have in the house.

Harden the Exterior

A good way to make your home less desirable to criminals is to make it harder to approach.  Keep bushes and other vegetation that is near doors or windows trimmed so as to deny good hiding locations for any miscreants that may want to case the house.  Another valuable addition is motion activated lights.  The sheer fact that a light turns on to illuminate the dark corners is a significant deterrent to criminals.  A front stoop that is pitch black is ideal, a front stoop that becomes clearly visible to the neighbors or the road upon approach is a turn off.  These motion sensors can be installed easily and with minimal expense.

I, personally, am not a fan of putting signs that say things like “never mind the dog, beware of owner” and the like.  I don’t like to tip my hand in any way.  I prefer that a criminal enterprise presume they are breaking into the home of a helpless yuppie if they do decide to target my house.  I am also not a fan of such signs as they display a certain bravado that could be used against you afterwards.

So these are some points of consideration for making your home less attractive for criminal activity to begin with, as well as more difficult to breach.  No security locks or bars will keep determined criminals out for long, but the longer you have the more likely you are to be prepared and waiting.  And you know what should be in your hands already when that door finally caves in.

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