In my lifetime, I’ve lived in 8 states (9 if you count Washington, DC). Five of those moves were within one year of my graduating from college. Through all of these moves, I’ve learned a few things about home safety and security. Unfortunately, I had to learn one lesson the hard way. Thankfully, none of my property was stolen nor was anyone injured, but my neighbor suffered a loss.
The situation occurred when I was living in Jacksonville, FL. My wife and I lived on the bottom floor of a duplex. Upstairs were our neighbors Bobby and Nora. Our building had a detached garage where we could park our cars. Bobby was a serious biker and used his garage to store his Harley. I used our garage to store my Jeep while my wife and Nora parked their cars in the driveway. We lived in a neighborhood that was in transition, but we never worried about crime. One fateful night taught us the folly of letting our guard down.
The next morning, I heard Bobby banging on our door.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Someone stole Nora’s car,” Bobby said.
“What?” I said. I pushed past Bobby and ran outside to the driveway. “I can’t believe that they were brazen enough to steal it right out of the driveway.”
“Did you hear anything?” Bobby asked.
“No,” I said. “We didn’t hear anything.”
Bobby sighed and went inside to call the police.
The next couple of days were filled with anxiety. Every little noise made us jump out of bed. We all felt violated because the thieves could have broken into our homes. Even after the police located Nora’s car, we still worried about our safety. We all bought Steering Wheel Locks for our cars and added additional locks to our doors.
But you don’t have to wait until you are a victim of crime to make your home secure. In fact, you should start securing your home as soon as you move in.
Change the Locks
As soon as you take possession of the new house, change all of the exterior and interior locks. The previous owner may have made several copies of the keys that were not turned over to you. Only give copies of the keys to trusted family members, friends, or neighbors. I like the Master Lock Electronic Keypad Deadbolt. It features a programmable combination keypad deadbolt that stores up to 20 unique four to 10 digit user codes. What I like most about this product is the NightWatch feature which prevents an intruder from entering, even if they have a copy of the key. While changing the locks may prevent crimes, they are ineffective if you don’t use them. Be sure to lock your doors at all times.
Meet the Neighbors
When I moved into my current house, I spent a large portion of the first day meeting my neighbors. I introduced myself and exchanged phone numbers. Recently, one of my neighbors called me in a panic. She and her husband were out of town and she had just received a panicked call from her teenage daughter who was home alone. Her daughter thought someone was trying to break into their house. I ran across the street to see what was happening (In hindsight, I probably should have called the police first). When I reached the house, the girl told me that a car pulled up outside and a man got out and tried to open their door. I checked the perimeter and looked for suspicious vehicles in the neighborhood. I walked the girl to her car so she could drive to a friend’s house. It turns out that the “intruder” was a family friend who came by to drop off a gift. But I was glad that I was able to help a neighbor during this scary situation. Getting to know your neighbors is so important because they can be your first line of defense against crime.
Reinforce Windows and Patio Doors
When I was a kid, someone entered my mother’s bedroom and stole her purse. If her window had been locked and secured, it would have been more difficult for the intruder to get in. Something as simple as a Master Lock Adjustable Door Security Bar on your windows and patio doors can prevent a break-in.
Cameras and Alarm Systems
Technology has advanced so much that you are able to install camera and security systems that you can monitor and engage from your cell phone. When you move into a new home, you should have one of these systems installed by a professional. If you cannot afford a professionally installed system, you can purchase camera systems that you can install yourself.
Exterior lighting is very important for new home safety. Look for dark areas around your home and add lights to those areas. I like lights with motion detectors.
Keep the shrubbery around your home maintained. You don’t want to give criminals any hiding places. In some instances, you may want to install shrubbery as a barrier.
While these tips aren’t guaranteed to prevent crime, they will make your new home safer and more secure.
Join the conversation: What home safety and security tips do you have?
Disclosure: I am a paid member of the Master Lock Live Secure Safety Squad. All opinions are my own.