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The prescription for a safer home

Big beautiful house at 1609 Chase in Rogers Park

As a home owner you enjoy feeling that your home is your castle - but is your home truly safe once you've headed to work, or school? You should be able to feel that your home is indeed your sanctuary, and, your home is the only place where you can really have complete control over keeping things as secure as possible. Here are some great tips for how to do exactly that.

Without a doubt the most constant threat to your safety at home is burglary. According to statistics, a home is robbed every 15 seconds in the United States. Burglary, as opposed to home invasion, is defined as a property crime that involves no personal confrontation - still, falling victim to a burglary can leave you feeling violated, vulnerable, and unsafe. In order to avoid this type of crime, it can be useful to understand the crime itself. It typically occurs in the daytime hours while people are away at work, or school, and many more burglaries occur during the summer months of July and August than any other. Most burglaries are carried out by males under the age of 25, and they are usually seeking out items which are small and expensive, and can be easily sold or traded for cash. About 70 percent of criminals use some sort of force to gain access to a dwelling, but, will always choose an open/unlocked door or window when the opportunity is available. It's important to remember that while burglaries seem very random, there is actually almost always a process of selection - the burglar will choose an empty house which presents the easiest point of access, which provides the largest opportunity to remain covered, and which provides the quickest and easiest means of escape.

Step one in beefing up your home security is to make it a hard target - in other words, make it exceedingly difficult to gain access to. Keep in mind that a burglar will cross your home off their list if it seems to require too much effort or skill to enter. Outfit your home with metal doors which feature a solid core at all points of entry. Make sure your deadbolt locks are heavy-duty with no less than a one-inch bolt. Install knob sets with a dead-latch assembly. Use a strike plate with at least three-inch screws that penetrate into the door frame. Lastly, use a peephole with a 160∞ view, which should be mounted at 58 inches or less from the ground. Sliding glass doors are extremely vulnerable because they are usually secured by a simple latch, rather than a lock. They are very easy to force open from the outside. The easiest way to circumvent this problem is to insert a heavy wooden stick into the track of the door. This will severely limit or restrict any movement.

Windows which are left unlocked and/or open can many times be the single reason your home is chosen by a potential burglar. Ground floor windows are attractive for the most obvious reason - easy access. Windows located on upper floors are more vulnerable when they can be entered via a stairway, balcony, fence, or tree. Make sure to secure all easily accessible windows with blocking devices, and also check to ensure that it's not possible to reach through an open window to unlock a door. Mark ground-floor windows clearly with alarm stickers.

Lighting is another important factor that must be considered when strengthening your home security. When a home sits dark for many nights, it can send a message to criminals that your family might be away from home on vacation. It's very simple and inexpensive to install timers on your interior lights. Once you've purchased timers, set them up and use them on a daily basis, not just when you're away from home. You want there to be an established pattern so that if your home is being watched, it becomes impossible for the burglar to determine if you're home, or away. Exterior lighting is important for the perimeter of your home and property.

A burglar alarm system should be considered a part of any home security plan. In fact, a security system might be the most effective form of deterring break-ins, due to the fact that the potential for being caught and arrested is so much higher. Homes which feature lawn signs and window decals declaring that they are monitored/protected by a security system are almost always routinely bypassed by potential thieves - there's just too much risk involved, and even if the theif is desperate and decides to go for it, he will be frightened away rapidly once he realizes there is a security system in place.