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    Environmental Home Security Tips

    When considering where to build or buy a home, consider contacting the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction to ask what the crime history is for that neighborhood. Most agencies tabulate crime by geographic area (called districts, zones, sectors, sections, or something similar), and should be able to provide this data as public information.

    Drive through the area to assess general conditions. Are the potential neighbors owners themselves, or are the owners predominantly absentee and the occupants primarily renters? While renters are not negative neighbors in any way, owners just naturally have a more intense interest in maintaining their own property in prime condition, and will tend to be more involved in neighborhood affairs.

    Is the area generally clean? Graffiti-free? Homes in good repair? Don't forget to check during hours of darkness to assess street lighting, area lighting, and the lighting on and around your residence. Are street locator signs in place at intersections as you approach? Are street addresses prominently displayed on all (or most) of the residences?

    Outdoors Security Tips

    Plant materials ("foundation plantings") should be trimmed so that they are not any higher than the sills of the windows or they have no branches below three feet to create a clear-view zone. Plants should not create places of concealment, particularly adjacent to the entrance or at bedroom windows. If plants are overgrown, ask to have them trimmed before buying. If you are selecting plant materials, work with the landscape designer to ensure that the materials selected will not grow to create a problem.

    If the yard is fenced, are there any gates? If so, where do they lead, and can they be locked? Remember that privacy fences limit the ability of your neighbors and police/security patrols to see the enclosed area; if you don't really need the privacy, consider a cyclone or other fencing material which does not block open view.

    Buried utilities are far less susceptible to interruption, and are unlikely to be manipulated by criminals. See whether the service entrance for the residence is inside the perimeter fence, so it is more difficult for the criminal to access. If the telephone and/or cable come in overhead, look to see where the nearest above-ground splice-boxes are located and whether those locations are inside fenced yards or are accessible to anyone.

    There should be a light fixture outside every door on a house to enable a scan of the area to be accomplished safely from inside. Consideration should be given to use of globes on such fixtures, which are vandal-resistant. It is possible to wire such fixtures to a photo-cell or timer so that they automatically come on at dusk and turn off at dawn; this arrangement ensures the exterior of your home is illuminated during hours of darkness and makes it more difficult for an observer to tell when you are gone. Very inexpensive (starting at about $20) motion sensors can also be installed in almost any existing exterior fixture (as part of a new fixture, or as an add-in for existing fixtures) that will turn on the light automatically when anyone approaches the door. These can generally be adjusted to determine how close someone approaches before the light is activated. Most of these devices also have a photo-cell so they don't activate during the daytime. New systems available not only turn outside lights on, but can also turn many lights in the home on and off at different times during the night, giving the illusion of someone being home.

    Attic & Hatches Home Security Tips

    Access to your attic should be inside your security perimeter; in the garage or an interior space. If you have an external access door, consider having it professionally removed and the opening permanently sealed; there is no effective way to adequately secure such an opening.

    The same applies to hatches to crawl spaces (externally-applied padlocks are much too easy to defeat to provide any but the most temporary security), and outside hatch ways to basements (although modern all-steel hatch ways usually are capable of being adequately secured from inside, and not very vulnerable to manipulation or defeat from outside).

    Strong Room Home Security Tips

    If you have certain assets which you wish to afford a higher level of security on a routine basis, or you want to create a space within which you can secure high-risk or high-value assets during periods when you will be gone from your home for extended periods, you might consider creating an inside strong room.

    Select an interior closet or similar small space. Replace the door with a solid core wood or metal door, Use non-removable pin or pinned hinges. Install a dead bolt lock and a matching box strike in the manner described above.

    If you have an alarm system, extend it to cover the door to the strong room; provide a separate activation touch-pad for this room if desired. Now you have the home equivalent of a vault; unless the intruder is willing to destroy interior walls, it is unlikely entry will be gained in the amount of time a typical home burglar is willing to spend on the premises.

    Bear in mind that, absent special protection, this strong room remains as vulnerable to fire as the rest of your home. Use of a safety deposit box or off-premises storage for critical records and small valuables is still strongly recommended.

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