Home sweet home – it’s a safe and welcoming haven for you and your family. But unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way. Your home and your belongings can also be appealing targets to criminals, but there are steps you can take to signifcantly reduce the risk. Below are nine valuable tips to help safeguard your home:
  1. Lock your doors.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes residents of gated communities leave their exterior doors unlocked because the controlled access supplied by the gates makes them feel safe. But better safe than sorry -- unfortunately, those with criminal intent will find their way inside.
  2. Add even more barriers to entry.

    You can easily make it more difficult for unauthorized visitors to enter your home. For example, if your home has sliding doors that lead outside, placing a block of wood or a pipe in the tracking will prevent it from opening.
  3. Install protection devices.

    If you have a home security system, use it. If you don't -- and you can't or don't want to install one -- placing a warning sign in your yard or a sign on your door can be very effective.
  4. Make a presence -- or create one.

    If you're home when a stranger knocks, don't open the door but make sure they know you're there. Ask who it is, and if they or their intentions are unfamiliar, tell them you're not interested. If they won't leave, tell them you will call the police -- and do it if they continue to lurk. When you're not going to be home, make sure the lights are on and the tv or music is playing to make it seem like the house is occupied.
  5. Befriend your neighbors.

    If you'll be away for any length of time, arrange for a neighbor to retrieve your newspaper, pick up your mail and put away your trash cans so it appears that someone is always home.
  6. Retain clear lines of vision.

    Having clear sight lines and visibility from your home's windows and doors are important to seeing what's going on around you. Be sure to regularly trim your lawn and shrubbery -- or arrange for a landscaper to do it -- to prevent overgrown foliage from blocking your view.
  7. Don't leave your garage door open.

    Leaving your garage door open when you're not actually in the garage is an invitation for burglars. Your garage door should only be open when you need to enter or exit with your vehicle. If you want to work in the garage, you can keep the door open for air and light, but always be aware of your surroundings -- and if you walk away, close it.
  8. Hide your valuables.

    Jewelry and other valuables can be irresistible targets for criminals, so secure them out of sight in a safe container, like a storage bin, safe, jewelry box, fake book or other clever hiding place. And if you keep your jewelry box in plain sight for convenience, place it somewhere less visible -- otherwise, you make it easy for a criminal to snatch your prized possessions in seconds.
  9. Record IDs and other identifying information.

    Permanently record all of your electronics' serial numbers -- if they don't have any, engrave or permanently write your own information. For additional security, photograph yourself with your belongings to make it easier to recover stolen items, especially if they're sold at pawn shops.

    These tips can help keep criminals away from your home and property, but always remember make safety your top priority. If you do experience a home invasion, don't try to play hero -- nothing you own is more important than your well-being or even your life. Immediately contact the police if a criminal act occurs, or even if you see suspicious activity near your home or in your community. Your local police force would much rather deal with a false alarm than a criminal act with the potential to cause harm.
In addition to taking steps to protect your home, it's just as important to safeguard your community.  Your association can take steps to boost your community's security, like installing access gates, guard houses, roving and/or neighborhood watch patrols, video cameras and more. For additional tips on how to protect your home and your community, contact FirstService Residential today.
Thursday January 29, 2015