If you have ever experienced a home break-in or theft, then you know that it can be devastating and very scary. This is because the place that you call home – your castle, sanctuary, and safe zone – has been breached and invaded by strangers. There are a number of ways to protect your home and valuables from those who believe that they can sneak in and take your valuables, your personal items, and your cherished memories.
In Lockdown Mode: Shutting Out Uninvited Guests
While many thieves are determined to get in no matter what it takes and some may even know how to bypass some defensive techniques that you put in place, you can still make your home into a fortress by being smarter and adding a number of layers of protection that will prevent thieves from moving quickly and quietly.
- Locks and Deadbolts – The more locks you have, the longer it will take to get in, leading a burglar to frustration and, hopefully, to the decision to give up. Locks and deadbolts should be outfitted on all doors and windows, garage doors, sheds, outbuildings, and gates. If you have recently purchased a house, be sure to change all the locks as you move in because you never know who might have keys to the old locks.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind – If you are gone during the day or on vacation, it is best to keep curtains and blinds drawn so that thieves cannot peer in to see what is inviting to take. Many times, homes are “cased” as potential candidates. If they cannot see anything that looks valuable, they may just move on to one that has all the goods on display. Also consider keeping your valuables, such as jewelry and important documents, well-hidden inside the home in a closet or safe.
- Nothing like Noise – While many say burglar alarms are now ignored, the noise can still be a reason to not take the chance that someone still might be concerned or that the alarm is wired to a company that alerts the police.
- Shine a Light – Install bright exterior lights with a motion-detector that both surprise and shine a light on anyone who might be creeping around your property. Also, consider setting timers inside the house while you are away on vacation so that lights come on in the evening to make the home appear to be occupied.
- The Bigger the Better – Strong doors, thick glass, and reinforced door frames slow the progress of thieves and prevent the easy break-in that had been expected.
- Creating the Illusion – It is important that you do not let on that you may be away from your home. Have someone pick up your newspapers and mail, mow your lawn, or park in your driveway at various times of the day and evening. Thieves typically do not want to break in and get into a conflict with those who live there and tend to shy away from any property that looks inhabited.
- Neighborhood Watch – Unite the neighborhood into a watch program where you help each other out in terms of watching for strangers or situations that might indicate trouble in the local area. There is strength in numbers and this can deter criminals from a whole neighborhood.
- Keep it on the Down Low – While it is good to let your neighbors, family and friends about your vacation plans, do not broadcast it in public areas where other people with ulterior motives might be interested.
Conduct a Security Inspection
Fortunately, most of us do not have a criminal mind. Unfortunately, not having one can leave us vulnerable and open to attack because we are not aware of all the ways and means a thief can use to empty your house of valuables.
An excellent step to take is to conduct a security inspection of your home. This can be done with the help of a police officer or public safety officer who can offer tips on what to identify as the weak points in and around your property. Below are some questions that you can ask yourself as you do your walk through that originated from one police department:
- Are there windows within 40 inches of the door lock?
- Are there adequately secured strike plates on each door?
- Can the front entrance be seen from the street or a common public area?
- Are hinges pinned to prevent their removal?
- Do you have a peephole in the main entrance door so you can see out without being obvious about it?
- Are exterior areas located near windows free of landscape that might work as a protective covering for a thief?
- Have trees and shrubs been trimmed back so that upper floor windows are visible?
If you have more than one property and you are a landlord, it is important for you to protect your tenants as well. This type of inspection should be conducted on all your properties to lower the risk.
Most importantly, do not look at these types of situations with the attitude that it will never happen to you. Be assured that you will be the next victim. Everyone can be vulnerable even if you live in a guard-gated community with 24/7 security. No one is immune so it is best to be overly cautious and alert for the safety of you and your family.
Covering the Value of Your Loss
Be sure to check what is covered with your current insurance policy as you may own some items that are too expensive to be covered. In this case, special riders are most likely required for some of these special items so an update would be necessary for your insurance company, including an appraisal for an outside source and photographs. If you do not take the time to check on any additional coverage, then all the value of these items can be lost in the blink of an eye when you are the victim of a robbery.
Take Stock with a Home Inventory: Proactive Tool for Theft Recovery
Think of a home inventory as a proactive investment tool that protects you later but also benefits you now. There are a number of key benefits:
- A home inventory is great to have as a way of documenting what was stolen so that it can be valued for replacement or it can provide proof of ownership if and when items have been recovered.
- It can speed the payment process from an insurance company.
- With so many people working from home, it is important to validate the true value of all your company equipment and intellectual property to protect yourself. After all, you do not want to end up with less than 50% of the actual value of your belongings because there is no proof in terms of what it is really worth!
- This list also helps you substantiate losses for your tax return.
Companies are now available to help ease the effort of putting a home inventory together. For example, an online service can cost can be as low as $29.95 per year with a 30-day complimentary offer – a true value and an excellent value considering the amount of technology and service that you receive.
Ownersite Technologies provide a secure, user-friendly Web portal that also works with wireless devices to not only create, store, and update your home inventory, but they also include maintenance and payment reminders as well as a library of useful information that adds value, protects, and ensures reliability to the biggest investment of your life.