Home invasion formerly known as burglary is the type of crime that you can do something to prevent. Home invasion falls into two categories burglary and robbery. In my book "Crime Awareness 101" I discuss the differences of both and what you can do. In this article I am going to address preventative steps to protect your home from being unlawfully entered. What is home invasion? Home invasion is where someone enters a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony, larceny (theft), or assault. In most cases these criminals look for easy opportunities or in other words look for the path of least resistance. In fact it is stated that statistically a home invasion criminal will not at the most spend more then two minutes attempting to break into a home. By understanding this, your best defense is to create a path of great resistance. Here some suggestions to securing your home.
Install deadbolt locks. The downside of deadbolt locks is that the deadbolt goes into the wood jam which makes up the doorway. Because most doorway jams are only about three quarters of an inch think, and the fact that the deadbolt is not long enough to penetrate into the stud. A good kick or two and that door is going to fly open splitting the door jam. During my time as a Police Officer I had to kick open a few doors and it's not all that hard to do. The alternative is to get steel jams. The steel jams will not splinter like wood thus making it very difficult to kick in the door. I have also had my experiences attempting to kick in a steel jammed door, in which I was unsuccessful. We usually had to use a battering ram, or have the Fire Department come and pry the door open. This took some time and caused a lot of commotion something a criminal is not going to waste their time doing. Unfortunately installing steel jams on all your exterior doors is a costly proposition. However in researching this article I came across a company that does have an excellent alternative. What they provide is a steel plate called "Strike Master II" it's about five feet long and easily installs on the door jam. It is installed on the side of the door jam that the doorknob and deadbolt secure to. By installing their product you in a sense have just created a steel jam but without any of the high cost, or extensive labor. For more information about all their products you can go here http://www.asafehome.net
Patio doors are another entry way that needs to be secured. Many people do not realize that some patio doors can be lifted up slightly and disengage from their locking mechanism. This is especially true for door walls that are a few years old and the jams have expanded. An easy and cheap way to secure a patio door is to put a pole in between the patio door end and the wall. Place the pole on the track where the patio door slides when opening up. This will prevent the door wall from being opened until the pole is removed. You can use an old broom stick handle or even a board. You want to cut it to the same length as the open track area when the door wall is closed. To keep the door from being lifted up and removed you can install a flat headed metal screw into the top of the patio door frame one should be about six inches from the edge and one in the middle. Make sure the screw is just above the door so that it will not interfere with the door sliding open or close. You can also purchase products which have been specially designed for patio door security such as patio door security bars, patio door pins, and patio door locks, etc? You can find these items at your local hardware store. The same thing goes for your windows make sure they are locked and secured the same way.
Note: be careful when you are installing anything which requires you to drill into your patio door frame you could result in damaging the door, or breaking the glass. If you are not that handy I would recommend you hire a contractor to do the work for you.
Lighting is an excellent deterrent to criminal activity at night. I recommend if possible installing outside lighting on motion detectors. That way the lights will go on when motion is detected. Many times they will detect small animals or some other thing and go on. Just because they go on doesn't necessarily mean there is someone there. But having them go on is a good deterrent if someone was. Like stated above thieves don't want to make a scene, and they surely do not want a light shining on them. If possible, it is suggested that you install flood lights on each of the four corners of you home. That way you could have perimeter lighting with motion detectors watching all sides of your home. When purchasing a motion detector spend the extra few dollars and get one of good quality.
Home alarm systems are also becoming popular and are a good deterrent. If you get just an audible alarm that will help, but I recommend that if you are getting an alarm system, get one that has a service that monitors your home and will contact the proper authorities when the alarm goes off. If someone does enter your home you want the police to be notified as quickly as possible. Also make sure your alarm company knows which police department to contact for your jurisdiction. We had numerous calls for police service from alarm companies whose customer's residence was outside of our jurisdiction, this caused unnecessary delays in police response. If you do get an alarm make sure to put the notification stickers on the doors that state "This home is protected by?" A would be criminal might see those stickers and look for a house that isn't alarmed.
When going on vacation I recommend you have a friend of family member (someone trustworthy) to stay in your home while you are gone. If that is not possible have a neighbor, friend, or family member keep an eye on your home and come by daily to take in the mail and any newspapers you have delivered. They should also do a daily walk around the house and check to make sure all windows and doors are secure. We have had people go away for a couple weeks only to come back and find there home broken into. Later it was determined that their home was broken into only a couple days after they left. The rest of the time it sat wide open to the elements of weather, and possibly another thief.
If you do not have anyone available to check your home, and take in your mail, you can have your mail held for you at the post office. You can do this online at http://dunsapp.usps.gov/HoldMail.jsp.
Remember the more difficult you make it to get into your home the less likely you are of being a Home Invasion victim.
For more information of Home Invasion and what you can do check out the book Crime Awareness 101"
Scott Shaper is a former police officer of over 14 years. He is also the author of the popular book Crime Awareness 101. He has written numerous articles and ebooks on crime prevention which can be viewed at his web site http://www.crimeawareness101.com