Increased Security, Small Expense

by Tenna Perry

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On any given day, a television or radio ad will come on that tries to sell the consumer on an electronic security system that they say is monitored 24-hours a day by a company that in turn bills the homeowner $50 or more a month for the privilege of their service. While these companies may provide the services as promised, there are many Americans who are unable to afford such a service or who live in an area where such services are unavailable. Lack of financial resources or company availability is no reason to simply accept the risks of burglary, home invasion or assault. With a little time, a small amount of money and a bit of ingenuity, anyone can improve the security of their home and lower their chances of becoming another crime statistic.

One of the most common, but effective methods of increasing home security is the acquisition of a dog. According to Wayne Schultz, who is with the Harris County (TX) Precinct 4 Constables, it doesn't matter if it is Great Dane or Chihuahua size. Dogs make noise and are one of the best deterrents against a burglar. A large breed of dog can in itself be intimidating even to the most audacious intruder while the smaller, "yappy" types of breeds can provide an early warning for the owner.

For those who don't want to bother with a real dog, just the idea that there could be a dog can work in their favor. Find a friend who has a dog, offer to exchange their dog's old, chewed up food bowls and toys with new ones and simply put these items out in plain sight on the porch or in the yard. Post a "Beware of Dog" sign and let the would-be burglar worry about the dog he can't see. Where is it? When is it going to raise the alarm or attack? These and many other questions will run through the intruder's mind while weighing the danger of the dog against the more appealing, dog-less home down the street.

Owners are also encouraged to install "cop locks" or "c-clamp locks" on all entry doors. Their bolts are designed to go deeper into the doorframe and the metal wrap that goes on the door portion makes it more difficult for someone to simply kick in a door.

Double-keyed deadbolt locks are also an inexpensive, yet effective security measure. If a burglar enters through a window, he is going to have a difficult time hauling too much or large, costly items back through that same window. Once in with these types of locks, the burglar has no choice but to go back out the way he came, each time raising the chance of being seen and reported.

Remember that with either of these types of locks, if your door has windows in or around it, the burglar can break the glass and reach in. Don't make it easy for him by hanging the keys right by the door. Place the hanger several arm's lengths from any window or door and always lock the doors taking the keys with you when you leave.

Windows and sliding doors can be secured by putting self-tapping screws into the frames, making it impossible for anything to open. Be sure to leave enough of the head exposed that it will prevent the window or door from sliding upon its track. During mild weather, you can always take these out, enjoy the fresh air and then replace them.

Whenever you are going to be out of town, don't rely on neighbors to pick up your mail and newspapers. Call the paper and visit the post office and put a hold on all that would normally come to your house.

While you may not want to rely totally on your neighbors, it is still a good idea to get to know them. Join your neighborhood watch. Report any odd happenings you see to the neighbors involved. Hopefully, they will return the favor.

Increase the lighting around your house. When possible, use lights with motion sensors. Get rid of shrubs that could conceal someone laying in wait and always use caution when entering solid gates that you can't see through.

When at home, you can also take steps to improve your safety. Many people feel more secure with firearms and pepper spray in the house. While these things can aid in self-defense, they are only going to be useful if you know how and are willing to use them. A firearm should be practiced with regularity and kept in perfect working order at all times. In a pinch, aerosol hair spray or household cleaners can be used in place of pepper spray. These items can be placed strategically around the house. It is important to remember the purpose of self-defense is to protect yourself from harm, not worry about the person who is attempting to inflict the harm. There is a saying we use in martial arts, "It is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six."

In addition to the dog mentioned above, windows and doors can provide early warnings of danger. Glass bottles, ornaments, knick-knacks and such can be placed in and around windows. These items will fall and break, alerting you to danger if someone raises the window or attempts to enter. Bottles or cans can be stacked in front of all entry doors as to provide the same warning.

While all of these suggestions are relatively inexpensive, they are effective and could easily save, not only your property, but quite possibly the lives of yourself and your family.

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