5 Tips to Make Your Home a Harder Target
When considering the idea of home defense, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. The best home defense plan works in a layered approach, and one of the first layers is the home itself.
Your home is your castle. It's your place of rest, the place you raise your children, and the slice of the world that's wholly your own. Because of that, you want to do everything within your power to protect it. One of the simplest and most effective ways you can do that is by hardening your home.
Hardening your home deters criminals seeking to target your castle. Anyone who wants to rob you or hurt you in your home must first enter it, and by making your home a harder target, you make that a more difficult proposition.
How Do I Harden My Home?
Making your home a harder target is a fairly straightforward idea. You make your home actually harder to enter in addition to making it look harder to enter. You want your home to be such an obviously difficult target to attack that it causes any person with nefarious intentions to deem it unworthy of the effort.
The good news is that it isn't just a straightforward idea. It's also a straightforward process, but simple doesn't mean easy. It's a process, but with a little forethought and the proper focus on small details, your home can scream to any person with ill intent, "Move on!"
This isn't the same as defending your home when you're not there, but there are elements of crossover. You want your home to seem like a hard target regardless of whether you're there or not. Here are five tips for making that happen.
1. Keep the Outside, Outside
It may seem self explanatory, but you want to keep doors and windows shut and locked when you're inside, especially at night. Naturally, there are times when things are open, but take the opportunity to work on creating the habitual discipline of keeping everything locked. The point is to develop habits and a plan so you aren't offering your home to potential criminal activity by leaving things blatantly open.
There are other things you can do that support the locks. First, consider upgrading the locks themselves. Adding a deadbolt to a door that doesn't have one is a big first step. Deadbolts are very obvious on doors, even from a distance.
In conjunction with the deadbolt, ensure that you have a hardened steel strike plate secured through the door frame with at least 3-inch screws. In most houses, the strike plates are only secured to the door frame, which is a weak point for defensive purposes. The door frame is usually only secured with finishing hardware, meaning it's nothing but decorative. Simply replacing the small decorative screws with longer ones that are able to go through the moulding to the studs can increase the lock's effectiveness exponentially.
Next, consider the addition of door stops. A simple device that braces the back side of the door, preventing it from opening, goes a long way — especially when working in tandem with reinforced locks with proper screws. While these measures aren't visible from the outside, they can be a deterrent when the criminal tries to get in and discovers the house is not as easy to enter as they thought.
2. Invest in Lighting
Criminals don't like light; they want darkness and places to hide. If your home is constantly dark, it may be scary to children, but it's inviting to criminals. It doesn't matter how many lights you have on the exterior of your home if you never have them turned on.
Work to maintain a schedule of when the lights will be on as well as off, and do your best to stick to it. It's easy to forget to turn them on when you're inside and you haven't noticed the time, so put them on a timer if possible or attach them to motion sensors. Also, try to look for dark spots that lack coverage or overgrown shrubbery and vegetation that can provide hiding places. If there's something you can't see in the dark, a criminal can use that to an advantage, so do your best to eliminate that opportunity.
3. Get a Security System
Having an alarm system is obviously not for everyone. They have their pros and cons, and as a result, they aren't always a great fit. There are various things that can set them off unintentionally, such as small children or pets, and sometimes this prompts visits from local police, which is an inconvenience. Plus, budget is always a factor. Whether a security system is right for you depends on a variety of factors, but it's at least worth considering some of the pros and cons.
- Having a sign that indicates a home is protected by an alarm system could be enough to keep threats away
- The alarm sound is typically enough to cause threats to flee and it immediately alerts people in the home to a threat
- Direct links to emergency responders
- Covers more than just doors and protects windows and living spaces through motion detectors
- Keeps watch over your home when you're away
- Expensive to install and costs money to maintain
- Requires upkeep of sensors and battery
- Takes discipline to consistently use it properly
- Usually requires two-factor acknowledgment, resulting in a phone call from the security company when the alarm is triggered and potentially dispatching police
- Pets and children can often trigger the alarm
- False alarms could be billed to you
- You will still want to call 911 when dealing with a threat
Whether or not you choose to get a security system for your home, an additional factor to consider is purchasing a sign that says you have a security system even when you don't. While actually having an alarm of some kind is much better, the deterrent factor of having a sign in the yard saying the premises are protected can go a long way. In a similar manner, false cameras on the exterior can perform the same function.
4. Know Your Surroundings
Understand the safe state of your home and become familiar with how it should look. Making this second nature can make detecting any changes, no matter how small, as easy as seeing a big red flag.
This goes beyond simply knowing your house, though. You need to know your neighbor's as well. Know what their house should look like and have a general idea of their routine. On top of that, be friendly with them and reach out to them if something of theirs seems out of place. Become a genuine fixture within your neighborhood, and you'll find others start reaching out to you. If you leave the garage or front door open, if the lights don't come on when they usually do, or if anything seems out of place, it can trigger a phone call from a neighbor simply because you're nice. It's almost like having a free security monitoring system because there are extra sets of eyes on your house.
5. Create the Impression of Chaos
Criminals love a sure thing. The more difficult something looks, the less appealing it is to a criminal. They want to get in, do what they came to do, and get out. Anything you can do to make it seem like a monkey wrench will be thrown in to that flow will work as a deterrent.
So, what gives the impression of chaos? Having a dog or children, or the appearance of no set schedule can create the impression that your house is too unpredictable to bother with.
Getting a dog can be an easy upgrade to security, but no one is suggesting you acquire some children for security purposes. You're not Willy Wonka; it's not like an army of Oompa Loompas is easy to come by. But in all seriousness, even if you don't have children, there are things you can do to make it seem like some might show up — such as putting some kids toys where they're visible. The impression is what matters here.
Routine variations might actually be the hardest part; our routines are often set for us with work schedules and other engagements. Since you can't just show up to work whenever, you can do things to change the directions of travel for going and coming and having others stop by. Hiring someone to mow the lawn at different times, setting internal lights on timers at random intervals, and even asking neighbors to drop in periodically can introduce enough variability that anyone trying to establish your routine finds it difficult enough that they move on.
Remember that this is always an ongoing process. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for hardening and securing your home, and there are numerous things to consider. The best home defense plan is layered and tailored to meet your own individual needs, but with these tips, you can make your home look less appealing to anyone attempting to target you.