Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.
Your adversary, the devil,
prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
What does vigilant mean?
Vigilant means to be carefully observant or attentive; on the lookout for possible danger. It refers to being alert, aware, and awake. It is the process of paying close and continuous attention. One who is vigilant can be said to be on guard.
When thieves break into homes, there's a greater chance of them doing so during the day when many people are at work. More than 60% of residential burglaries take place during the day between. and .
If burglars can tell that someone is home, there's a greater chance that they won't attempt to break in. Ninety-nine of 100 burglars will avoid a home if they think someone is inside.
*Remember, more break-ins occur during the day when many people are at work. For that reason, when you leave the house, create an illusion that someone's still there. To make yours look occupied, put the lights on a timer so that they switch on while you're out. Even better, hook up the timer to your TV. Action on the screen will throw shadows on your windows, creating the illusion of movement. You can also consider leaving a light on, along with music for good measure.
It may seem like a good idea to leave a spare key hidden under a flower pot or doormat in case you get locked out of your house. But that's an open invitation for a burglar to walk inside without any difficulty. Someone could also see you retrieve the key at some point, giving away your hiding place.
Instead, give a spare to a neighbor you know well or friend who lives nearby for safekeeping. Since most people now own cell phones, if you lock yourself out you can call for help or walk over to the person's house. You could also put the spare into a combination lockbox and hide that somewhere outside.
Remember to never put any identifying information on your house keys. If you lose them, and someone else finds them, it would be fairly easy to trace them back to your home and break in.
Always Lock Up
The city writhes in chaos;
every home is locked to keep out intruders.
Many people still fail to do this. This makes it incredibly easy for a criminal to steal items, without difficulty of getting them out of the home.
Locking up our home may seem obvious, but 28 percent of burglars don't use force to get into a home. Most break-ins occur at the entry door. They walk in the door or climb through a window.
Close and lock windows
Just locking doors is pointless if you do not close the windows when gone. Burglars see an open window as a welcome sign. Consider inserting a wood dowel in the slider track. This will allow airflow while preventing the window from opening enough for a person to fit through.
Around 40 percent of annual household burglaries in the United States are not forced entries, meaning someone was able to walk, climb or crawl inside of houses almost as easily as if the owners left a key in the door [source: Bureau of Justice Statistics].
Locking windows and doors is the most important thing we can do to stop a break-in. As mentioned earlier, more than 40 percent of break-ins happen without the use of force. That means a lot of people are leaving their houses without locking the doors and windows.
If you have a thumb latch lock and a deadbolt on your doors, always lock the dead bolt. Although you should always lock your windows before leaving the house, you can install a simple pin or nail into to the frame to stop it from raising more than a few inches. This will add an additional layer of security in case someone pops off the screen and you have left the window unlocked. If you have a wooden window frame, you can drill a hole at your desired height above the sash, where the top and bottom window meet. Then, insert a thick metal pin or a sturdy nail into the hole. You can remove the stopper if you want to open the window completely and put it back in for security.
Double-check weaker doors such as patio and sliding ones to make sure their locks are strong enough to withstand kicks. One can easily break into some older sliding doors by simply popping them off of their frame, even when locked. It's harder to do that with newer ones, but you should still take extra precaution to secure them since they can be an inviting entry for burglars. Simply take a strong dowel, steel bar or two-by-four and slide it into the back groove. That way, even if people can pick the lock, the rod stops the door from sliding back and opening.
When you leave your home, don't forget to lock up the door leading from the garage to inside. Even if your garage door is down, someone can easily open it. Many people secure their main entries but leave the door from the garage to their house unlocked, says Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles?based security consultant with 40-plus years on the job. Even if it doesn't hold valuables, the garage can become a hidden enclave from which a thief can take his time, and use your tools to get into your house.
If that garage has windows, be sure to put shades or blinds over them; so criminals cannot see what kind of transportation they can steal.
Invaders prey on seniors and vulnerable people
Elderly people are three times more likely to fall prey. Criminals often prey on the elderly and vulnerable people in their homes. Home break-ins and violent crimes can occur when people don?t take the necessary precautions or have the proper security in place. Also, seniors can be overly trusting and less likely to sense malice. Being careful may avoid disaster.
Investigators have reported that the number of so-called distraction burglaries, in which criminals pretend to be workmen or officials or claim to be emergency plumbers, roofers and even friends of their neighbor target the most vulnerable members of our communities, often the elderly.
Criminals talk big, but when push comes to shove, they won't go near a house that has an alarm, says Dr. Paul Cromwell, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. You don't even need an active system, just a sign in your yard or a decal in a window?or better, both. Most residential thieves stay away from houses with such signs.
The flip side is that an increasing amount of criminals could be former employees for home security system companies. These signs could be an indicator of homes that have the systems they know, so they could know how to override them. Security signs can scream "cut my phone wires" which will disable the system.
A practical rule could be... DO NOT HEAVILY advertise your BRAND. If you must use a sign, make it generic.
Secure Your Yard
Criminals love to make an entry in a location that is poorly visible to others. By removing vegetation that makes it difficult for others to see around your home, you lower the risk that they can make a silent entry.
Tall shrubs and overgrown trees are welcome hiding places for criminals to wait until the coast is clear to get into your house. That doesn't mean you need to cut down every plant in your yard. Just keep things manicured. If you have bushes in front of your house, prune them back from the door and below window level. Low shrubs in front of windows remove additional covering for thieves if they attempt to break in through one. Cut away any tall tree branches that reach upper story windows and protect against attacks from above. Regularly trimming larger bushes and tree branches also eliminates dark shadows that help hide intruders.
Add hindrances to keep criminals from easily accessing your property. For instance, placing brier bushes just below first floor windows where possible. Preferably a holly bush or other thorny shrubs around window entries will make access more difficult and a burglar will likely move on.
Install "Surprise" Lights
In addition to saving energy, motion-detector lights add the feeling of being watched when they illuminate a porch or yard.
"The single best way to keep burglars at bay is to make your home appear difficult to break into. Thieves are just looking for an easy target."??Dr. Paul Cromwell, Criminology Expert
Always check your doors for "advertisements" left on them. Burglars / invaders will see how long they remain there as a gauge and then proceed with their plans. Sometimes they make their own ads to put on doors and check the duration of when it was placed and if it has not been removed.
Don't advertise valuables
Leaving certain things lying around your yard or in plain sight from the road can unwittingly lure thieves onto your property. Also, do not list your valuables in the classified of your local newspaper for a criminal to know what valuables you might have. Do not place valuables in plain-sight; such as having valuables in front of a window, especially on the first floor of the home (i.e. large television or computer system).
Open up your curtains, blinds or shades and stroll around the house and see what's visible. If you have a number of expensive items within plain sight or near windows, think about doing a minor redesign to move them out of view.
Be careful of who is knowledgeable of your valuables. By bragging (or telling) about your valuables, even to people you believe are not going to be the burglars; you increase your risk of a home invasion. Even if they are completely innocent, they could possibly tell somebody who is not as upstanding. For those who post information of what they own online, you should also be careful.
After purchasing a new plasma screen television or other pricey electronics or appliance, don't leave the box out beside the trash can or recycling bin [source: Kraeutler]. That tells people you have something brand spanking new that could fetch decent dollars on the street. It may also leave them wondering what other goodies are inside your home.
Invest in a quality alarm, preferably with a cellular backup (because it is quite easy for a criminal to disconnect phone wires leading to your home). Be sure to turn it on, especially in the following situations:
?You leave your home, and nobody is there. Even if you are only gone for a short period of time.
? When you are home alone.
? When you are sleeping.
Prepare Before Vacation
The mailbox screams "my owner isn't home this week, so feel free to break in."
Residential crime spikes during July and August as people set off on summer vacations [source: OIsen]. As mentioned earlier, if you are going out of town for an extended period of time, call your local police and let them know. Also, alert neighbors you trust about your trip and ask that they keep an eye on your property during that time.
If you have a home phone, don't change your message to alert callers that you have left town. Also avoid having piled up mail, overgrown lawns and newspapers strewn about your yard that send surefire signals you're miles away. Have a friend house sit or at least pick up your mail and newspapers. Ask them to move your car periodically to make it look like you're still around. During the winter if you live in a cold weather climate, consider having someone shovel snow from your driveway. In the summers, arrange for someone to cut your lawn.
Getting to know the people you live around is one of the most important safety steps you can take. Closer-knit neighborhoods generally report fewer break-ins [source: Olsen] because strangers will stick out, and people are more likely to keep a casual eye on other people's security.
If you rent a house or apartment, you have more incentive to get to know your community because renters are 85 percent more likely to experience a break-in [source: National Crime Prevention Council]. Be careful when living in a Duplex with a common (shared) attic. Make sure you have an inside lock on your attic trapdoor/pulldown or even walkup attic door. Lock it Up!
To keep unwanted intruders out of your home, you don't have to turn your property into a suburban Fort Knox. There are many solutions that require no money at all -- just a little common sense.
Although it's nice to know you have people watching out for you in your neighborhood, you also need to watch out for yourself. If you aren't paying attention to what you're doing, you could unknowingly be rolling out a red carpet for a burglar to waltz through your front door.
While it may seem like a symptom of paranoia, keep your identity and any travel plans on the down low. For instance, only put your street address on your mailbox. Give away your last name, and someone could find your phone number, work place and a host of other stats with a few mouse clicks [source: Discovery Channel]. Before you jet off to Bermuda, don't talk about it openly in public because a sinister stranger could be taking note.
Educate yourself as well about crime in the area. Check the crime section in your local newspaper to see if your neighborhood has been hit recently [source: Discovery Channel]. Also, local police stations, particularly in larger cities, have online crime maps that will show you precisely where reported incidents occurred around you. If you notice a lot of criminal activity, that's your signal to pay extra attention to security. And always keep an eye out for suspicious activity in neighborhood. A little added effort can go a long way to protect your home and your safety.