The adage “a man’s house is his castle” I assume originated with America’s love of medieval England, knights in shiny armor, damsels in distress, King Arthur and Merlin, but does it simply means your house is considered your medieval castle, a place where your family dwells. Is that really all? Might not preventing home invasion be part of the whole castle thing? Stopping a home invasion as inexpensively as possible is the goal.
True Castles were designed to house people, but a huge portion of their design was attributed to safety, protecting the place from being invaded by unwanted intruders with bad intentions. Time hasn’t changed mankind much. There are still unwelcome bad people in the world who will steal your belongings and hurt your family. We are educated now and classify them as psychopaths, kleptomaniacs, schizophrenics, but the bottom line is … they are bad people. We are going to learn ways to keep bad people away from our property and family.
Let’s begin by approaching this matter from a different point of view … that of the burglar. What do they look for, how do they choose their victims?
Interview with a bad guy
1. Bad guys, not opportunity thieves who see a package at the door and steal it, but real bad guys will always perform surveillance on their intended neighborhood. They will have a plan before breaking in.
2. They look for easy points of entry where they can work in secret. That first floor bedroom window that you planted large leafy bushes in front of to prevent the morning sun from waking you up, offers the bad guy an easily accessible point (no ladders involved) where he can work in complete secrecy unseen from the street.
3. Nothing says welcome more than a completely isolated and darkened exterior. They will check for motion-sensitive lights, having none means they can blend into the darkness and go about their business without fear of being seen.
4. Bad guys love advertising. Empty giant flat screen TV boxes, bags from expensive stores, and/or empty computer, laptop, etc boxes setting out next to the trash cans scream brand new expensive items inside.
5. Bad guys are bad, but not all are stupid. If you have a home security system don’t have stickers or signs announcing XYZ security system protects this house. The bad guy may know how to disarm XYZ security, but not ABC security. He now knows the security system poses no threat. Worse yet, don’t fake advertise. Don’t borrow or steal a security advertisement and plant it in the yard. Bad guy may be able to tell it’s a rouse.
6. Bad guys hate dogs! They don’t have to be trained mean guard dogs. Little yapping mutts, although not as physically dangerous, are every bit as bad or worse for announcing their presence. Secrecy is the bad guy’s friend.
Unless you are in the billionaire club, making your home impossible to break into is not feasible. Your goal is to make your house less appealing to attempt a break-in than the surrounding neighbors. That may not sound very neighborly, but … oh well. You acted … they didn’t.
Easy Preventative Measures
You’re part of what’s left of the Middle Class and you’d like to preserve what belongings you have, but can’t afford to go crazy with expensive surveillance systems. Let’s exam a few relatively inexpensive options that will drive the bad guy crazy and hopefully send him packing.
1. Check out your front door. Is it an old, relatively thin wood door with antique locks, that look really cool, and a mail slot. The locks are easily picked by an experienced locksmith (crooked) and the mail slot is an access point which the bad guy can use an extendable fishing pole, for example, to retrieve your extra keys hanging on the wall. Replace your front door with a metal clad door and install new, more difficult to compromise locks.
2, Check out installing a burglar alarm. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, most security companies offer free installation, if not go to another company that does, and charges a monthly fee. Do a little price shopping. Some companies think their name justifies an extra $50 a month monitoring fee, it doesn’t.
There are numerous, seemingly more every day, of self installed security systems, which are wireless or attach to the windows and doors. Many of these are capable of doing the job and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Again, comparison shop.
3. It does little good to install a new metal clad or 2” thick wood door and not equip them with good locks, specifically a Deadbolt Lock. Deadbolt locks are much harder to tamper with than normal locks and are stouter. Every exterior door should have a deadbolt installed in them and the bolt should extend a minimum of 1” into the door frame. An excellent way to stop a home invasion.
Beautiful but inviting
4. It’s not uncommon, on homes of all price range, to have the exterior doorway framed by narrow tall windows for an attractive design feature. Although visually appealing they offer an easy access point. Simply breaking the glass offers the bad guy a direct access to the door’s locking mechanisms by reaching their arm inside. To alleviate the problem install Plexiglas panels to the interior side of the windows, secured to the wall or window frame, which is all but impossible to break if a quarter inch or thicker. I strongly suggest taking the required measurements to the material supplier and have them cut the Plexiglas to size. I don’t care what the “do it yourself” people say … it is not easy to cut. It can shatter and cutting a sliver off if it’s a bit too big … is all but impossible. Beware of sticker shock. I was appalled by the price of Plexiglas, but I’m cheap. Additionally, don’t be so impressed with the results you consider installing Plexiglas on all windows. You’re building a coffin as you won’t be able to get out of in case of a fire.
5. Adding motion-sensitive lighting can stop an intruder in their tracks, they hate being visible, and is quite cost effective. Not an electrician … don’t know how to run electrical wiring? Don’t worry panic. 99.9% of houses are built with a front light, light over the garage and an outside weatherproof electrical outlet. Replace the front door & garage light with motion-sensitive lighting. (not difficult to do nor dangerous as long as the electricity is turned off) Use outside spotlights, stick in the ground type, attached to motion-sensitive outlets and plugged into the outside electrical outlet. You can use extension cords to piggy back several lights if you desire.
Cheap & Effective
6. As stated earlier, landscape defensively. You don’t have to forego landscaping in order to stop intruders, simply keep all shrubbery, trees and tall grasses trimmed in order to eliminate any camouflage area from presenting itself. Best part … it’s free.
7. By their nature burglars are cowards. They don’t want to be confronted by a homeowner, as they may be armed or bigger and tougher than the bad guy. Therefore, making it appear someone is home will deter the common coward. Connect lamps, radios, TVs throughout the house to inexpensive timers which will turn the devises on at preset times. Many of these timing devises allow for several on and off selections which make it look as someone is traveling to different rooms within the house at different times.
8. It’s said that when a 1930s gangster was asked by a reporter why he robbed the bank, his replied was “Cause that’s where the money is.” Pretty basic logic, but very true. You don’t want the bad guy to know what you have inside your home. When not at home, especially if you’re to be gone for days, close all blinds and shades. Don’t allow a free preview of what can be stolen. Same goes for the trash. Don’t set a big screen TV box out for the trash, instead break it down and put it in the trash can or a separate trash bag.
9. Burglars may be cowards, but not all of them are dumb. They will notice uncollected mail in the mailbox and non-retrieved newspapers scattered on the lawn and driveway. Stop mail and newspaper delivery when you go on vacation. If there’s no time to stop them ask a trusted neighbor to collect them and hold it for you until you return.
10. You don’t have to join a neighborhood watch if you don’t want to, but get to know your neighbors in a neighborly way. Know what cars normally park where, notice faces and who normally walks their dog, an excellent recon ploy bad guys use. If you’re the reclusive type look at it this way. Living in a neighborhood of low crime increases your property values. Whatever floats your boat to get motivated.
Protecting the Castle and stopping a home invasion does not have to be extraordinarily expensive. Use good logic, simple and relatively inexpensive equipment and keep your eyes open. You’ll sleep better knowing you are safe.