Living alone offers a sense of freedom. For some, it’s downright exhilarating. Independent living, however, means that you have to take steps to ensure your safety and security.
In a National Crime Victimization Survey conducted from 1994 to 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice reports 3,394,700 household burglaries in 2011, a sharp decline of 56 percent from the 1994 figures. The survey defines burglary as “the illegal entry or attempted entry of a residence that occurs when the person entering has no legal right to be present.” For example, if you leave your door unlocked, and someone enters without your permission, that’s an unlawful rather than a forcible entry, and those entries are included in the survey.
Criminals take the easy way out when given the option. They gravitate toward the low-hanging fruit. This is good news because you can go a long way toward making your home unattractive to the common criminal. If you send a clear signal that your house is too difficult to enter, you decrease the likelihood of a break-in.
Tips for Making Your Home Secure
The following safety tips were gathered from various federal, state and local agencies including the U.S. Department of State:
- Lock all entryways and windows when not in use, especially at night.
- Don’t leave keys hidden outside under a doormat or on top of the door. Give a key to a neighbor or a friend instead.
- Get to know your neighbors, and watch out for each other. Consider checking in at regular intervals.
- Dogs are terrific deterrents, and they’re wonderful companions for those living alone, but don’t install a dog door. Invaders can squeeze through small spaces or use a child to gain entry and unlock the door.
- Vary your routine. For example, go shopping on different days and at different times of the day. If you shop every Thursday at 1:00 p.m., you establish an identifiable pattern. If anyone is casing the area, they’ll learn your schedule.
- Place motion detectors near entryways. They’re inexpensive, and the added element of surprise may scare off an intruder.
- Burglars can cut telephone lines, but it takes extremely specialized knowledge to disable a cell phone remotely. You can get a cell phone for emergency purposes for under $100 a year.
- If you have to arrive home after dark, carry a whistle, and use it to scare off burglars and others who may surprise you.
- Get a home security system if you can afford one. The Federal Trade Commission offers a wealth of information on how to purchase a home security system and avoid fraud.
- Don’t hesitate to call the police if you see someone suspicious or feel threatened.
Except for the home security system, these common-sense precautions are inexpensive and easy to implement. You owe it to yourself to feel safe from burglars in your home, and you can’t put a price on peace of mind.