Why Is Home Security Important?
In 2021, we saw the dramatic rise of crime, including overwhelming amounts of opportunity crime. Opportunity crimes are crimes committed because the opportunity is there, which includes stealing packages left on doorsteps, checking car doors in driveways, and casing neighborhoods for tools, toys, bikes, etc. that are left outside at night.
Because people know there is more opportunity to steal things, they are more aggressive about casing and checking properties for items of value. Even with doorbell cameras, these brazen criminals go right up to the door with no regard for the camera. Because they are already out looking, they typically will also check to see if garages are open, look for spare keys, or go into backyards and see if doors may be left unlocked.
According to the FBI, there are 2.5 million burglaries in the United States annually.
If you do find yourself woken up in the night by your alarm, a dog barking, or some unusual noises, I want to offer tips on how you can protect your home, your family, and what you can expect from a police response. This is not an end-all be-all list, because every situation is different given the city or type of house you are in, but it can at least give you some perspective and tips to make you feel a little more comfortable and prepared if this scary situation ever occurred.
First, I will discuss how to prevent this type of crime from taking place, and some of the more effective deterrents. Later I will discuss tips on dealing with an actual home invasion.
Using Home Security As A Deterrent
To reduce the likelihood of a home invasion, consider the following:
- Outdoor lights/motion lights- studies consistently show that businesses and homes that have lights on at night are less likely to be burglarized
- With the price of self-installed cameras that you can buy online, or professionally installed cameras, there is no reason not to invest in at least one or more security cameras. While professionally installed cameras/systems are great, owners often accidentally and purposely disarm them, forget the codes, don’t want to pay the monthly or yearly fees, etc. So consider doing it yourself!
- Dogs, even small ones, that bark are a great deterrent and often scare people away (but I don’t recommend buying a dog as your security system.)
- Don’t be a victim to opportunity crime-don’t leave any items of value in a car, or your yard. Don’t’ leave packages at your door, as this creates the opportunity for criminals to be on your property to begin with
- Have a morning/nightly routine where you or your spouse go through the entire house and make sure windows and doors are all locked, cars are locked, garage doors are closed, etc. If you have a set routine, you will be less likely to forget!
What To Do In The Event Of A Home Invasion
If you ever find yourself the victim of a home invasion, consider the following:
- If possible, depending on the time of day and location in the house, call the police, put the phone on speaker. If you are alone and near an exit, try to leave the house while calling the police. The dispatch will likely advise you to get out of the house if you can do so safely.
- If you cannot leave the house safely, once you’ve called the police, set the phone down so you have both hands free, and grab any item within reach that can be used as a weapon.
- If possible, lock yourself in any room. The dispatch will ask you what your location in the house is, so be able to clearly explain the room and location in the house. Dispatch will also ask if anyone else is in the home, or if you have pets in the home.
- Police will try to set up a perimeter around the house, and if possible will try to use a police K-9 to search the house.
- DO NOT try and confront the burglar yourself unless you have to for survival.
- DO NOT go looking for them inside of your house. You might startle them and cause them to have a drastic reaction.
- DO NOT use a weapon outside of your house where police will be coming, as they could mistake you for the criminal.
When Home Security Doesn’t Work
Because this is such a terrifying event, and it varies drastically each time, there is no true way to prepare mentally for a situation like this. However, having a plan in place and deterrents in place, will help in most situations and make you feel more comfortable in your home. Based on my experience in law enforcement, the faster you call police, the faster the criminal will leave.
This may be because they hear you on the phone with the police, or they hear sirens outside. Even if you are unsure if it is a true break in or not, don’t try to investigate it yourself, as you will likely end up face to face with the intruder if it is. It is better to call the police even if you are unsure. If you haven’t taken home security seriously in the past, it is never too late to start. There is a ton of free information online and videos to watch as well, which will help guide you through your home security journey.