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How’s your home security plan?

By NBPD Crime Prevention Specialist sara Verschueren

When developing a plan for securing your home, it can be difficult to know where to start, as there are many options and the technology evolves rapidly. I recommend a layered approach that uses a number of different devices and strategies. Based on recent residential burglary trends, I want to share four key concepts to keep in mind as you make decisions about how to protect your home and valuables from a home burglar. 

Here are four things you can do to enhance your home security plan:

–Create the appearance that someone is at home.

–Reduce or eliminate areas of concealment.

–Set up immediate notifications of a possible intruder.

–Secure valuables.

How s your home security checklist

Courtesy of the NBPD

Home security checklist

Create the appearance that someone is home

Burglars are looking for empty houses. To keep your home from being a target, you want to make it look like someone is present in the house, and between 5-10 p.m. is the most common timeframe we’ve seen these burglars operate. During these “dinnertime” hours especially, you want to have indoor lights set on timers or use smart lighting options to have lights go on and off even while you are away. This makes it look like you are home even when you are not. You don’t need lights on all night; you want it to look like there is normal activity happening inside, so it’s okay to have the lights go off around normal bedtime hours (say 11 p.m.). Try to stagger the times the lights go on and off a little, since the goal is to mimic what normal movement would look like inside the home.

Also, these interior lights should be visible not only from the front of the house, but through side and back windows as well. Burglars often access a targeted home by climbing over a back fence or from an adjacent property. 

Some additional suggestions for creating the appearance of an occupied home include leaving the TV on when you go out and setting up a radio or audio device on a timer to play a talk radio station, podcast, or music. This way it not only looks like someone is home, but sounds like it as well.

Reduce or eliminate areas of concealment

Burglars like to operate where they can’t be seen. In the majority of the burglaries we’ve seen, the suspects have entered the home from the sides of the house or the backyard – away from public view. It’s a good idea to have motion sensor lights and cameras added to areas where there should not be much traffic, that way the area is illuminated and you can get a notification when there is activity in those areas. The front of the house should be well lit from dusk to dawn, so have those exterior lights come on automatically using a timer or photocell sensor.

Do not let landscaping create dark hiding places for burglars to use to access your property. Groundcover should not be higher than two to three feet off the ground, and tree cover should not be lower than six feet. I see many houses with large hedges in the front – especially near the side gates (one of the areas burglars will use to access the concealed side yard or backyard). It is best to keep landscaping trimmed back to maintain good visibility in those areas so neighbors or passersby can recognize any suspicious activity. 

Set up immediate notifications of a possible intruder

Whether you have a professional alarm system or go the DIY security system route, your security plan should include some devices that will send an alert when there may be a burglar on your property. The above-mentioned exterior cameras can help serve this purpose, but you can also consider additional interior motion sensors as well. I like motion sensors because no matter how they enter the home – shattering a glass door, prying a window open, or finding an unsecured garage door – the motion sensor will be activated when they are inside.

Since the master bedroom is the most targeted room in the house for burglaries, that is a great place to set up a motion sensor. Sometimes burglars will break in directly to the master bedroom and rummage through the master closet and master bathroom without venturing to other parts of the home. If you are going with a DIY security system, a great option for a motion sensor here would be a plug-in motion sensor camera. You can set up the device when you are away; when you get home, you can unplug it, and put it away or in another room in the house. 

Secure valuables

As already mentioned, burglars rarely skip the master bedroom when looking for valuables. They are often looking for high-end handbags, jewelry and safes – all items commonly kept in the master suite. Keep this in mind when considering where you store your things.

If you use a safe for storing valuables, it is best to have it bolted to concrete somewhere on the first floor and encased in a cabinet where it will not be easily seen. A safety deposit box at the bank is also a good option for any items that would be irreplaceable to you (family heirlooms, etc.).

Doing an inventory of your valuables from time-to-time is also a good idea in case of a burglary, fire or other emergency or disaster. Having a list with photos or videos of these items can be helpful to reference for insurance or investigative purposes. Going through any of those situations can be incredibly stressful and emotional, so having something to refer to can help alleviate some of the burden of trying to remember details about your belongings.

I hope that you found these recommendations to be helpful as you consider what additional security layers you could add to make your home a difficult target for burglars. In addition to these layers, here are a couple of other things to remember:

–Always lock your windows and doors and set your alarm when you go out, even if you are only going out for a few minutes. (This includes second story doors and windows.)

–When you go out of town, let a trusted neighbor or two know so they can keep an eye on your home.

–Continue to look out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. If you see anything that raises a red flag, call NBPD’s non-emergency number: 949.644.3717.

You can find a more in-depth home security checklist from the Newport Beach Police Department here

Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing series of community information provided by the Newport Beach Police Department.

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