Thursday, November 27, 2008

Article - How to improve security at home

How to improve security at home

By Lynda C. Corpuz
MoneySense
First Posted 09:47:00 09/11/2008
From content sharing of inquirer.net and MoneySense


While you may have a home alarm fully installed, there is no absolute way to prevent your house from being burglarized. There are precautions though that could improve security in your home.

Survey your home. Have a family member or a trusted neighbor or friend look around your house for potential areas of break-in, as they could spot areas that you could have overlooked. Do this at least twice a year to minimize potential of theft and other security risks. Return the favor and survey your neighbor’s or friend’s house as well.

Don’t flaunt what you have. If you just bought new appliances or gadgets like videogame consoles, computers, or laptops, or other items for your home, and are ready to discard the boxes or packages of those, don’t just throw them out. It might be laborious, but take time to cut or fold them neatly inside black garbage bags to avoid giving any clues to reconnoitering burglars.

Make sure also that none of your valuables, like that flat screen TV that you might just have bought with your credit card, are visible from your living room windows.

Mark your valuables. Having permanent markers, like serial numbers, a driver’s license number, or some unique mark, will aid in tracing your valuables if these are stolen. Burglars often sell their stolen goods to supplement their vices, and such markings further depreciate their selling value. Who knows? The stolen item could even find its way back to you.

Document. Pan a video camera in each room and record its contents. Take close-ups of truly important items. Have a family member pose with the valuables and clearly identify each item, like the purchase date, acquisition value, model, and serial number. Update your tape every time you have a new item as this will serve as your inventory in case a break-in happens and you need to itemize those items for police records.

Have a security video camera installed. Wireless home security cameras or videos offer both indoor and outdoor benefits. Transmitted directly to your computer or cell phone, you will be able to see whether a prowler is lurking, or how your yaya is looking after your kids.

Avoid dead giveaways. Closing the curtains only when you’re not home, no garbage collection, an untidy lawn and garden, unpicked newspapers and other mails, unanswered phone calls, and unattended deliveries are sure giveaways your house is empty. Before you leave for long absences, make arrangements to avoid these pitfalls and kindly ask your neighbors or friends to occasionally check on your house.

Don’t forget your keys. Avoid keeping door keys under the mat or above the doorjamb, as these are the first places a thief will choose to look at when breaking in. Don’t hang keys on holders near windows, as professional thieves are simply given an easy opportunity to break in. While you may trust your friend or neighbor, don’t give extra keys to them as an extra precaution.

Vary your schedule. Most organized burglars follow their victim’s routine, so they would know when you’re away or not. Alter your departure and arrival as much as possible to prevent establishing a routine. Also, the adage “don’t talk to strangers” holds true -- never chat about leaving your home, or unwittingly spill to a stranger your schedule.

Have your best friend around. Your dog is another best bet against intruders. Truly a man’s best friend, your pet’s menacing bark will scare away burglars. Choose a dog that barks at strangers; a noisy dog attracts attention, something that burglars don’t want. If you don’t have a dog, there’s nothing deceitful in hanging a “Beware of Dog” sign, or having a dog house in your backyard, or a loose chain or bowl – these too can discourage would-be intruders.

Alert authorities. The Philippine National Police often advises homeowners to alert their neighborhood police or barangay officials if they’ll be away for an extended period. Subdivisions often have a neighborhood watch to patrol the vicinity so inform them as well to give additional surveillance in your house and your area.

Make sure your home is secure. Have a fully functional home security system especially when your house will be vacant for a long time. If you have none, consider purchasing one before leaving. Comparison shop and choose the vendor that can offer you security within your budget.

There are good systems currently in the market that includes a warning door decal, a motion sensor, siren and keypad, a control unit, and 24-hour monitoring for just P1,200 a month for a service contract minimum of 36 months).

(This article is from MoneySense, the country’s first and only personal finance magazine. Visit www.moneysense.com.ph for more.)
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