You may have heard the term “hard target” before, it basically means that an intended target is more difficult than another and/or expected. The opposite is true for the term “soft target”. Historically most criminals will prefer a softer target over a hard target, it is often more likely to work out in the bad guy’s favor.
In previous articles I have discussed ways to harden yourself as a target but what about your home? Here are a few brief ideas that are fairly inexpensive and can probably started right now.
When was the last time you cut your grass? Unkempt lawns and flowerbeds can be an indicator of vacancy. The same is true for un-plowed driveways and un-shoveled walkways in the winter. Ask a neighbor or hire a trustworthy landscaper to keep your landscaping in check while you’re away.
Plus. it doesn’t hurt to have the landscaping crew walking around your property working, they are likely to notice any attempted break-ins or damage to your home. Make sure it’s a company you can trust. I was a landscaper for over a decade, in that time I called clients many times to report odd people around the home, damage to the property, I even had to call the cops to secure a front door that was wide open while the home owner was traveling.
If you live in an area where there is no street lights you may consider buying a couple lights for your home. There are some very inexpensive and low energy consumption LEDs on the market that could make a huge difference in deterring crime. Bad guys don’t really care to be in the spot light.
Indoor light timers
Casing is a term that refers to the act of watching and probing a potential target for weakness and opportunity in preparation for an act. Potential home invaders have been known to cruise up and down streets looking for people who appear to be away from home (casing). Having a light on a timer that mimics normal activity can help deter a break in as it appears as if someone may be home.
Trash day opsec
The term opsec is short for operational security, a military term that means to avoid divulging information about a situation, mission, or job. On operation take the trash out, be sure not to leave boxes of valuable or indicative items in plain view i.e. don’t leave the giant box with full color graphics for the new 200” led super tv you just bought in plain view. Take the time to break it down.
Be aware of what you say and to whom. I was planning a vacation, I walked over to a trusted neighbor to inform him, after speaking with him and walking most of the way back to my house he shouts “have a great trip!” That was a total face palm moment. Now anyone in earshot knew I was leaving. That situation was hard to avoid, but try not to announce openly any plans for or indication of travel. And in line with item number four, be sure not to leave any trash out for collection that could indicate a pending trip, old luggage, and items that look like a closet clean out come to mind.
Chutes and ladders
Please don’t leave large ladders easily accessible. I can’t tell you how many large ladders I see just sitting around people’s homes. And I’d bet most people don’t bother locking their second floor windows. A lot of folks even leave a second story window open while at work to cool the house.
Close your windows and doors, all of them, all the time. Ladders capable of reaching a second floor need to be stored inside a locked garage or barn, and if that’s not available put a big fat bike chain and lock on them, and secure the lock to something substantial. If need be, install an anchor to attach the lock to. And, if you have any chutes laying around, lock them up as well.
Mirrors and reflective glass
Lots of people have a mirror by the front door to help them be sure they look their best before heading out, go outside and look in are these mirrors reflecting more than just your good looks? Your mirror could be sharing more about your home than you would like.
This is a big one, but in regards to home security just be careful what you say on social media. Bragging about a pending vacation is potentially dangerous, pictures showing off a new car may have information in the background that could indicate your location, like say, a mail box with visible street numbers. Pay attention to the background of all the pictures you post.
This is actually a real product, it is a light that mimics a tv being on. Its not as dumb of an idea as I first thought. Plugging one in in a bed room gives the impression someone fell asleep with the tv on, it can be another layer of protection against casing.
If you are away, ask someone trust worthy to stop by and look over the house. They can pick up any pizza joint flyers that collect on the front door and inspect for any damage. Their presence will help the house look occupied, if even for a brief time.
Alarm signs and decals
Have an alarm system? Super they really help keep tabs on your home, but if you don’t have one of these systems go buy a couple of the yard signs and decals. It could deter a break in.
Loading the car
Be careful loading and unloading the car. Try to conceal valuables with a sheet or jacket. If you are loading for a trip try and be discreet about loading your luggage, and be quick about it. Avoid leaving luggage strewn about while you repack a bag or search for that missing phone cable. Stage all of your luggage inside, then load it all at once, even better do it in your garage if possible.
Katy bar the door!
Sure this is a great way to reinforce a door, but it’s a little excessive. You can, however invest in few discreet products like EZ-Armor to strengthen a hinged door. Also inserting a dowel or piece of wood into the inside track of a sliding window or door is a very good idea. Some of these sliding doors aren’t too difficult to pry off of their tracks.
Mail and packages
Track your incoming packages and get them as quickly as possible. If you are traveling ask that a friend collect your mail or have the post office hold it until a desired date.
Unless you live on a little house on the prairie you probably already have double pane glass windows, though some older ones may not be tempered. 3M makes a product that can adhere to a window much like window tint on an automobile that can help reinforce the glass. Throwing a rock through a window or hitting it with a hammer now becomes a much more difficult and louder endeavor. This could cause a potential home invader to rethink your house as a target.
Lock down your valuables
This seems fairly obvious, but a lot of people don’t, people like to look at, or show off their possessions. If it is truly valuable to you, put it under lock and key, or hide it extremely well. There are lots of interesting products out there that can help you hide something in plain sight.
Real or fake, a surveillance camera when noticed will certainly give an individual with nefarious intent pause. It may not stop anything but it is just one more layer of defense.
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