As the economy begins to rebuild, budget cuts in many police departments across the country are creating a spike in crime. In 2012, Palo Alto California saw a 63% jump in home burglaries. Detroit Michigan cut its police department’s budget by $75 million for 2012-2013, resulting in a loss of nearly 380 employees. With fewer officers to serve and protect, what should homeowners do to remain safe while still keeping an eye on your budget?
Joining the Neighborhood Watch
When you need to keep your family safe, can you have too many eyes watching your home? Joining the local neighborhood watch group or spearheading the first group in your area is one of the easiest and most cost effective methods of keeping your family and friends safe. In 2009 Jerry Borbon of Miami, a member of the local neighborhood watch, called to police when he noticed a man breaking into a neighbor’s home while they were away. Aside from the obvious, there are a lot of benefits to joining a neighborhood watch program. Just a few of these benefits include:
- Increasing the number of people watching your home
- Up-to-date information on local criminal activity
- Instruction on how to prepare for emergency situations
- Enhanced communication with local law enforcement
Keep Your Yard Under Control
No matter how many eyes are watching your home, they can only see what you allow them to. Overgrown bushes, shrubs, grass, hedges, and cluttered yards offer many places for criminals to hide. By keeping your landscaping under control, removing large pieces of clutter and decreasing hiding spots, a thief is more likely to be seen when entering your property, rather than when it is too late.
Flood lights and Security Systems
We have all seen the commercials for the leaders in security systems. For many families, the expensive equipment is out of reach. However, there are low cost options available through many of the national security providers such as ADT. Before completely dismissing these well-known security providers, speak with a representative to discuss your options and budget.
If you are looking for an easier low-cost option, there has been a lot of success with light timers and motion activated flood lights. Although the lights are not meant to notify the police of an intruder, many thieves have been deterred when the light popped on. It is a simple method of removing the cloak of night and showing their position. The average flood light runs between $15-$150 depending on the size of the area you need to monitor.
Increase the Toughness of Doors and Windows
Thieves are only effective if they can get in. If your home is still using the standard glass and doors, you may be at a higher risk than you need to be. Reinforcing your home with security bars, high security window locks, glass-break sensors and security screens can help keep unwanted intruders out. If you don’t like the Fort Knox look for your home, there are reinforced glass and doors that may be installed to keep the look of your home clean while increasing security.
Dogs and Car Alarms
Ask any thief what they hate the most and they will tell you it’s loud dogs and noises. If you have thought of getting that puppy for your kids but haven’t gotten around to it, it may be a good time to stop procrastinating. Even the smallest dog can have a loud enough bark to keep intruders away and let you know someone is there.
Many new cars come standard with an alarm system, for homeowners this is can save the day. Rather than keeping your keys in the bowl next to the garage door or the entry way, take it to bed with you and keep them on the bedside table. If you hear a noise downstairs in the middle of the night, set off your car alarm and keep it going until you are sure the intruder is gone and every nosy neighbor is on watch. This trick is often used in dark parking lots, but if highly effective when deterring a burglar.
As crime increases, especially in suburban areas, keeping your family safe should be a priority. Create a safety checklist, get involved in the neighborhood watch, find out about home security options and stay smart about how you run your home. The smallest details can mean the difference between keeping intruders out, or inviting them in.
Chelsea McCary is a frequent home security blogger offering tips and tricks to keeping your family safe. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMcCary.