If you happen to be Gunther Gable Williams, you probably have all the security features you will ever need.
However, if you are short on lions, tigers and gators for your living room, there are other methods available that can increase your security at minimal cost.

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  • Keep your cell phone charged and near you – within a few steps – at all times. Program 9-1-1 into your speed dial and know how to locate it quickly.
  • If you hear unusual or suspicious noise outside your home, inside your home or a window breaking, dial 9-1-1 and tell the operator that you need an officer immediately – that you feel in a life endangering situation.

  • Make sure that every member of your household – every member – has a cell phone handy and teach them how to use it in case of emergency.
  • Many experts and studies have shown that cell phones have deterred, stopped or caught criminals in the act more than any other single tool.

    Cell phones are better than panic alarms in most situations because you are making direct verbal contact with the police instead of waiting for someone in Alaska to receive your panic alarm and call the police on your behalf.

  • If you hear someone in your home, yell in a loud stern voice – you know, the mother or father voice – and demand to know “what the hell they think they are doing”.
  • Yes, use the cuss word and sound angry that they think they are in your home. Most experts and law enforcement officers will tell you the opposite because it does increase your risk of injury.

    But, the statistics show that people who take command and yell at the intruder scares them off more often than it initiates a confrontation.

  • There is one situation in which this is the worst possible advice: Home Invasion Robbery.
  • It is this type of break-in that law enforcement is most concerned about. The difference between a “home break-in: burglary” and “home invasion: robbery” is the intent of the perpetrators before they arrive at your home.

    The “burglar” intends to steal your property.

    The “robber” intends to confront you physically, kill or physically harm you and your family members up and then take your property.

    Since there is no way to know which one is entering your home, officers prefer to err on the side of caution.

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  • Install lights with automatic sensors that react to movement.
  • Install sound alarms – bells, whistles, barking dog soundtracks – with automatic motion sensors for daytime alerts.
  • Using movement reaction lighting on the sides of the home where activity and normal traffic is minimal, on the back patio or deck, at the back of your fence or property line, under shrubs that are close to your home and on trees that are scattered in your yard prevents burglars from having dark corners to use for cover.

    Normally, we would say “exterior” lights but these can also be used in interior spaces such as closets, garages, work sheds, hallways and any space within the home that you do not normally use on a daily basis.

    If you come home and see a light on in the garage or a back bedroom that no one uses, immediately leave your home, drive into your neighbors’ driveway and call the police from a position of safety where you can still observe any activity.

    Sound sensors are great for attracting attention to someone coming onto a part of your property that is not the normal route of entry.

    Installing these at property lines (back and side), on fences, under shrubs on the side of the house especially if under a window and at the corners of your back patio or deck, may be enough to deter a criminal from continuing since the noise will attract attention to an unauthorized presence.

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  • Hire a Certified Locksmith to do a security check of your home and property.
  • They really are not that expensive and are worth every penny! Save up if you need to but hire one to do your assessment and change your locks. Some also have CCTV cameras or can tell you where you need them and who to hire locally for installation.

    Locksmiths will charge you for the service and you will get a complete list of suggestions that you can do to make your situation safer. For instance, He/she will tell you where your homes most vulnerable points of entry are, what locations on your property need lighting or fencing and give you suggestions that cost nothing to complete.

    Sales reps from alarm companies, on the other hand, are not trained to determine the security weaknesses of your home. They are trained to sell you as much equipment as possible.

    You may want or need most of what they suggest but they have to operate with a “one-size-fits-most” program or the company would go broke.

    A certified locksmith can tell you where you need closed circuit cameras, alarm sensors, intercoms and what types of alarm sensors would do you little good if any.

    He can save you thousands of dollars on choosing what elements you need in an alarm system and because they are not allowed to sell alarm systems, they have nothing to gain.

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  • Hire a Certified Locksmith (your local police department has a list) to install all locks in your home.
  • Have a Certified Locksmith install special frame locks on all windows and check to make sure that they are locked every single time you leave your house.
  • Locksmiths have special equipment, skills and locking devices that are not available to the general public in order to prevent burglars from learning how to break through them.

    They also have the expertise to know if a new frame is needed or how to re-hang a door with non-visible pins to prevent the door from being removed at the hinges.

    It doesn’t matter if you or your best friend have “put in locks” before. The locks that you get at the hardware store are NOT secure enough to keep your home safe – for several reasons.

    (For one thing, all locks from hardware stores use the same one of three keys.)

    On the Left is a typical deadbolt you can buy and install at a Hardware store and on the right is an advertisement by a locksmith showing several types of deadbolts available to professionals.

    Notice the length of the tongue on the deadbolts and that those available to locksmiths pass through the reinforced plate into the wall.

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  • Scouting the Target
  • Never answer questions about yourself or your neighbors’ ‘normal activity’ to someone that you do not personally know by name.
  • One of the most common ways burglars get information is by asking questions of you and your neighbor about normal routines that occur in your life and in your neighborhood.

    Notice the length of the tongue on the deadbolts and that those available to locksmiths pass through the reinforced plate into the wall.

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Questions Used to Elicit Information about You

Often these questions are asked in public places where you happen to meet new people – like waiters, sports enthusiasts gathered to watch a game, bars or lounges or clubs, parties and public events held in parks.

  • What time do you have to be to work? - (now, you’ve told him when you will not be home)
  • Does your wife have to work out of the home, too? - (nice to know that he doesn’t have a wife)
  • It must be hard to work opposite schedules so that you can take care of the kids. - (Yes, this is a question formed to elicit specific information about your activities and family members.) [Great! The house will be available for burglarizing from 9 to 4 any day. ]
  • I hear that you love hunting. - What’s your favorite gun for hunting deer? (or any other animal Whoohoo! Likely to have guns – those go for big bucks and are easy to sell. )
  • My kid wants one of those new game machines – gizmo or something – and loves it. But, I don’t know if I want him playing it every day. Do you have a schedule for your kid to play on his? (The first question tells him you have a gaming station and the last section is just chatter – he probably doesn’t have a kid.)
  • What kind of did you get? Does it really hook up to the television? What are your kid’s favorite games? I want to be sure to get him something that I know will work and he’ll have what other kids have, you know what I mean? (This gives out all the information needed to know the brand, the age and the games you have waiting to be removed from your possession.)
  • I’m from the xyz company and your neighbor, Mrs. X, called the office yesterday to make an appointment for tomorrow but I was in the area and thought I’d just drop in on her. I knocked but she doesn’t seem to be home. Do you know what time she normally comes home? I just need to know if I have time to wait. (This is typical chatter of someone who looks like a door-to-door sales rep but is really a way of doing burglar homework about a potential target – your neighbor’s home.)

The answer to any conversion like this about your neighbor should always be:

I’ll call them right now and let them know that you’re here.

If you don’t know your neighbor’s number, call your wife, a friend or the police. The cops will know what to do.

  • And, while you’re getting ready to use the phone, feel free to take a picture or video of the party who wants to know– and make sure that they know you are photographing them!

If this is a scam to find out normal activity, he/she won’t be able to wait or he’ll fake an incoming cell call and have to leave.

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Encourage Nosey Neighbors!

  • Get to know your neighbors – even if you find later that you don’t have a lot in common.
  • If you have neighbors that stay at home during the day, such as stay-at-home-moms, people that work-from-home or retirees, that can see your home or driveway from their house, let them know when you are expecting service people or packages to be delivered.
  • Give your immediate neighbors your cell and work phone number to contact you in case of emergency.
  • Ask your neighbors to call you if they see someone lingering around your house while you are out.
  • Inform your neighbors and your local police department when you are going to be out of town. Give both expected dates of departure and return. Give the police your neighbor’s phone numbers.
  • Find out where your neighbors work and get their contact information. Contact them if you see something unusual at their home.
  • Keep a photo of your neighbor’s household members and pets on your cell phone. If you need to describe what they look like to police, a picture speaks a thousand words!
  • Exchange your extended family’s contact information with your immediate neighbors in case of emergencies. They can give this information to the police or fire departments.

There is nothing more important or effective than nosey neighbors for deterring and reporting suspicious activity at your home.

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Simple but
Effective Methods

While you can’t very well “hide” a boat or RV, you can hide your motorcycle, riding lawn mowers, practice targets and proof of purchase of expensive items.

Any time that you purchase a high-ticket item such as an HDTV or new Stove, do not put the empty boxes out in the trash until the day of pick-up and cut them up so that they fit into a plastic garbage bag.

For criminals, these boxes are evidence that you have new stuff. You might as well run ads on the radio.

Do not put any “message” on your answering machine or voice mail systems beyond, “you have reached [this phone number]”. If they are calling you, they should know your name and no one calling you needs to know your schedule – ever!

Don’t put a note on a door or window saying “Be right back” or “Gone shopping”. If you are expecting someone to drop by while you are gone, call them and let them know or wait and leave after they arrive.

Don’t announce your vacation, holiday trips or emergency trips on social media. While burglars aren’t very skilled at opening special locks, they seem to be quite gifted at locating and assessing information on Facebook, G+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Deadbolt locks should have tongues that reach at least 3 – 5” past the door frame and into the wall. In fact, less than that and the lock can break the frame loose and allow them entry.

All security systems need to be checked from head to toe, at least once a month. This includes checking sensors for contact and corrosion as well as replacing batteries in wireless devices. There is nothing more dangerous to your safety than a system that doesn’t work – except that empty gun.

If you go away on an emergency or for a weekend, ask your nosey neighbor to pick up your mail daily.

Arrange for your lawn to be mowed and plants to be watered while you are away for more than a weekend.

If you go away for a planned trip of more than a few days, go to the post office or go to their website and fill out the form to have your mail held until you return. You will have to go to the post office and sign an “I’m back” release before your mail will restart, unless you scheduled it online.

Always lock your sheds and exterior buildings when you are not using them – and when you run to the store for a minute.

If you lose your keys, call a Certified Locksmith and have all your locks changed immediately.

Most windows can be pinned to prevent them from being opened when locked. Ask your certified locksmith for his/her recommendation and if your windows qualify.

Make sure that all your exterior door hinges are on the inside of your home. Nothing is easier than removing door pins and walking into a house!

When you move into a new home or apartment, change all the locks to specialty safety locks before you move any property into the house. And, put up curtains or blinds that prevent people from looking into any window!

Once you start moving, put a wireless camera system in the house where you are not staying as well as where you are staying overnight. If you come home and find a door or window ajar, open, or broken, do not enter the premises. Call the police from a safe place – either next door or across the street.

One police officer always leaves a $10 bill pinned to his bulletin board near an entry door. When he opens his door, he checks to make sure the money is still there. If not, he calls the department and waits outside until officers on duty arrive.

Do not enter the house until the officers have given you permission.

If you have been burglarized – or believe that you have – do not start cleaning up or trying to find out what is missing.

You could accidentally ruin any chance of the police finding good DNA evidence – such as touch-DNA.