Imagine yourself living in a time and place where there is plenty for everyone, meets all their needs (and even greed). OR let us say there are only renunciants who are totally satisfied with what they have. In those circumstances, when there is no desire to acquire anything extra, temptations will not persuade people to take things that are not theirs. Even when valuables are left out in the open, there will be no thieves, burglars or robbers! In such environments, there is no need to hide, protect or secure anything.
But we know the practical reality is different from such ideal scenario. When valuables are left in the open, it tempts and encourages other people to come and pick them up without the intention to be a burglar or thief. Our first common-sense practices should be to discourage unintended intrusion and stealing. Next practice is to make it not obvious or easy to intrude and burglarize. These are obvious practices to follow, before investing in any elaborate security systems.
1. Avoid encouraging intruders and tempting them to steal
Do not leave valuables out in the open, especially if it is something you wish to keep. Even innocent passersby may get tempted to pick up such objects inadvertently. In fact, I suggest that we should not leave “free” things outside for others to pick up, because such acts encourage different kinds of people to scout around for these opportunities. Make a conscious attempt to contribute at specific donation locations.
Do not keep spare key hidden around the house. Many are afraid that they may lose their keys, hence keep a spare hidden under the floor mat, on a window sill, in a flower pot, etc. around the house. Many burglars are very familiar with such practices and this practice encourages them to fish for the keys and enter the house easily.
2. Remove people hiding places around the house
When there are large bushes and trees around the house, it encourages burglars and intruders to sneak-in, lie low and hide even during broad daylight, and break-in to the house at the right opportunity. If instead you trim down bushes & trees and remove hiding places as much as possible, then intruders will be discouraged from attempting to enter the house.
Another aspect that discourages intruders from entering the house is to have the windows & doors visible to neighbors. It is generally unlikely for intruders to break the walls and enter the houses. Side doors and windows are typically such break and enter openings, and when it has the potential to be under a watchful eye of a neighbor, the intruders will be reluctant to break and enter them.
Well-lit walkways, motion sensors around the house that get activated and flood-lit the surroundings are definitely some of the easiest ways to discourage intruders who stealthily come and check out for intrusion opportunities.
3. Remove the obvious appearances of unoccupied homes
Typical burglars and thieves do not want to encounter occupants in a house when they go about their business. Having to deal with people in the house may escalate their crime levels they are not ready for. Hence, they prefer to attack unoccupied homes.
If newspapers are lying on the driveway, if the mailbox is full, it gives a general indication that the owner-occupants may be away and unavailable to take care of the obvious hygiene of the place. Take care of them when you are at home, or nominate someone to care for, when you are away. Better yet, put deliveries on hold so nothing even shows up in your yard when you are away. Add additional levels of protection to have someone pick up in case something falls through the cracks.
An unkept surrounding is another indication for an unoccupied home. Though some houses may be intrinsically untidy, you will not take a chance with intruders if you keep your surroundings neat with the grass routinely cut, no trash around, plants watered and cared for, etc.
4. Show appearance of activity in and around the house – especially when you are away
Intruders may observe activities in and around a house over a period to see if it is occupied. Even if they miss someone going in/coming out of the house, a permanently dark house is a sure sign of unoccupied house and a potential intrusion target. A good practice is to have multiple timers to light different parts of the house at different times during the week. It is also a good idea to have the curtains drawn on the main floor so the potential intruders can’t peek in to observe and conclude an unoccupied home.
5. Keep home well protected anyways
Install good locks, dead-bolts on your doors and use them always – whether you are staying in, or when you go away. Have strong doors and windows, especially those that are facing outside or are on the ground floor. Many people forget to lock their patio doors, and that becomes a common entry point for intruders.
Always install a Safe and keep all valuables locked inside the Safe. Intruders generally know places where home occupants keep valuables and they can be in and out with their loot within minutes if they guess right. Keeping a Safe is a very healthy addition to keep your belongings safe at home.
Ideally, keep real valuables in a Safety Deposit box in a bank, so even in case of intrusion and burglary your valuables are not lost.
6. Scare away potential intruders with warnings
These are common techniques that I see many home owners apply these days. People put “Beware of Dog”, “Protected by XXX Security”, “You are being Watched” signs to drive away potential intruders. This has become so common, that many experienced burglars know whether these signs are true or not. Novice burglars may not take a chance, but experienced ones will know whether those signs are true. Their effectiveness is to be seen. I don’t encourage you to do this as the first deterrent, unless you take care of steps 1-5 above.
7. Social Media
Social media is another way that intruders find out which places to attack and be successful. Many people announce their plans on social media and post pictures half way around the world showing what a good time they are having. This opens their homes to be vulnerable for attack. Even if you have taken many of the above considerations, even if you may have someone temporarily caring for the house, you will make your place be subject to such intrusions.
With these preliminary common-sense safety and security practices, you can significantly reduce the potential for intrusion to a large extent. Further protection can be achieved from actually deploying security systems. We shall discuss how such systems have historically protected our homes, how effective they have been, how they have evolved with technology, and how the intruders have also evolved to beat such systems. Watch out for our future blogs in these areas.