Securing Your Perimeter & Home Exterior
This is the first installment in a multi-part series about home safety. Protecting your loved ones is a top priority for Sheepdogs. While there should be no safer place than your home, you need practical and pragmatic advice. After all, no one wants to live inside a bank vault…and then still get robbed.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there were an estimated 1.5 million burglaries in 2016, with 69.5 percent of all burglary offenses taking place in residential properties.
“Given enough time and the right tools anyone can get in anywhere,” said Dennis Jones, head of training for Sheepdog Response. “As a homeowner, part of your security set up is to play mind games with criminals. You have to remember that most criminals are cowards and want the house that offers the least resistance. You want to make him think twice about the time and risk it takes to get into your house. Ideally, you want to stop a burglar before he becomes an intruder.”
Jones, who teaches the home defense instruction block in the Sheepdog Response Level I course, encourages students to make their homes a hard target. “Bad guys don’t randomly pick homes,” Jones said. “They will always conduct some form of reconnaissance to determine when you will be home, what valuables may be inside, and how easy it will be to get in and out of the house without getting caught.”
Criminals reconnoiter by driving through your neighborhood, posing as salesmen, repairmen, etc. Don’t be deceived by thinking that only men will be conducting the surveys. Women are also used to gather intelligence on your home. Jones encourages homeowners to think of their security in three layers: perimeter, home exterior, and home interior. Each layer has a unique role in the overall home security system.
Your home’s perimeter serves as both a visual and physical deterrent to criminals. This area plays a critical role in the initial impression your home makes upon the bad guy. Can he easily move across your property without being detected? Jones recommends walking your property’s perimeter on a regular basis. Think like a bad guy. How would you approach the house without being seen? Where could you hide and not be seen from the street or from the home?
- A wall or fence is a physical barrier that will slow down a bad guy from gaining fast access to your property. It also serves as a visual barrier to keep them from seeing what is in your driveway, home, or backyard.
- Lock your gate or fence. This makes it harder to gain access as well harder to leave.
- Keep your trees and shrubs well maintained. You want to give the appearance that the house is lived in and not neglected.
- Yards that are overgrown are often indicators that the homeowners are elderly which makes them more attractive targets.
- Don’t let criminals use your bushes for hiding spots. Keep them away from windows and entryways.
- Even if you don’t own a security system, buy a sign that says you do. Put it somewhere visible in your front yard.
- Have a “Beware of Dog” or “Dog on Premise” sign posted on your gate or near your front door. Sixty-five percent of inmates incarcerated for burglary said they would pass on a house that had a sign indicating a dog was on the premises.
- Bad guys don’t like operating in well-lit areas. Make sure your driveway, front porch, and back porch are well-lit at night.
- Use motion detector flood lights (some are tied into camera systems) by your driveway.
Your house’s structure and security systems are your second line of defense. The focus here is to provide notification that someone is in close proximity to your house and to also provide protection in preventing access to your home’s interior.
- Jones recommends having at least one camera by your front door, one by your back door and one on each side of your house.
- Knowing that his actions and face can be recorded makes a camera a powerful deterrent. Cameras also dramatically improve your situational awareness of what is going on outside of your home.
- Install a video doorbell that provides real-time video coverage and intercom capabilities. Even when you’re not home, you can create the perception there is somebody in the house by using your smartphone to talk to the person at your door.
- Install motion detector flood lights on the sides and back of your house. Many are also paired with cameras, giving you dual capabilities.
Unless you live in a high crime area, there is little need to put bars or grills over your windows.
- If you live in an area where shutters are common, heavy-duty storm shutters will be your best bet. These shutters go over the outside of the window to prevent damage to the glass, but have the drawback of being able to be manipulated by someone outside of the house.
- You can also install security film that will prevent the glass from shattering and delay the intruder from gaining entry by several minutes. 3M makes a great window film for your home windows.
- Replace the common hollow core door with a solid core or steel door.
- Have a deadbolt that goes at least 2 to 4 inches into the frame.
- Make sure the screws going into your hinge plates and door deadbolt plate are also 2 to 4 inches in length.
- You have a window that is close enough to your front door where the bad guy can stick his arm through the window and unlock your door, consider getting a double cylinder lock. This lock requires a key, or keypad, to open the door from the inside instead of a simple turn knob.
- Install a chain lock. While the chain won’t keep someone from coming in, it will slow him down. The chain lock is particularly useful if you have small children in the home. It keeps them from letting strangers in and also prevents them from accidentally getting out.
- Do you have a dog or do you not have a dog? Keep the bad guy guessing. Buy a large metal water dish and put it by your back door. If you can’t afford a real video camera system, install fake cameras by your front door, sides of your house and back door.
- Set your front and back porch lights to turn on and off at irregular intervals. This creates the perception that someone is home. Bad guys look for patterns so don’t give them one by turning on your porch lights immediately after sunset.
- Home defense and security measures are discussed in every Sheepdog Level I course. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Not only will you learn about home defense, but you’ll also gain valuable skills in firearms, self-defense, situational awareness, and tactical medicine.