Managing a residential security program abroad was one of my biggest headaches at a U.S. Embassy. Living in a strange place, surrounded by people speaking a different language, made the transition for some Foreign Service families difficult. Telling a spouse that she/he could not live in a particular neighborhood or occupy a certain house or apartment due to security concerns made me very unpopular sometimes. Nevertheless, through creative interpretations of the regulations, coupled with creative use of what monies I had for residential security upgrades, other than the most egregiously unsafe residences, I usually managed to provide appropriate security upgrades. This, despite the relatively small residential security budget the financial wonks at State allocated to me. Secure homes meant installing locks, home alarm systems (that most people never used) and window grills. Cameras were not an option in my day as they were too big, too expensive and required an additional cost for someone at the residence or apartment building to monitor the camera feed.
Today here in the United States, residential security has become a lucrative business. FBI statistics reveal that property crimes resulted in over 15.5 billion dollars in losses during 2012. About 75% of all property crimes, according to that same FBI report, took place at home residences. Cameras are now often the security upgrade of choice. Cheap and easy to install cameras can be monitored over smartphones or the internet. Companies like ADT and Vivent offer alarm and camera monitoring services for minimal monthly fees.
Thieves usually do not choose random targets. They have specific reasons for stealing from their victims. The smart ones do their homework. They take note of possible alarms, cameras, accessible windows, streetlights, etc. Less sophisticated thieves will endeavor to rob the easiest target: The person who left their door unlocked, window open or garage door open.
You do not always need a sophisticated alarm or camera system to keep your home safe. You want to make your home difficult to rob. Coldly put, you want the thieves to go next door or down the street. The often-used term, “making yourself hard target,” applies to home security.
Hardening your home does not require lots of money and sophisticated electronics. Changing your mindset can increase your security posture significantly. Maintain situational awareness. Know and recognize your neighbors, their car, who belongs on your street and who does not. Let strangers know you are alert by overtly watching the odd person or car that seems out of place.
Lock your doors and windows. As trite as it sounds, it still amazes me the number of people in my cul de sac who leave only a screen door between their belongings and the outside. The same is true with cars. Get in the habit of locking them at all times, even when in your driveway.
Simple and inexpensive low-tech upgrades to your residence can significantly decrease the odds you will be a victim, too. Ensure each outside door has a deadbolt. Install locks on first and second floor windows. Close your window curtains! When you walk your dog, look at your neighbor’s homes where the curtains are open. If the lights are on, you can see many details that would make any would-be thief salivate: TVs, computers, electronics, etc. Simple devices to turn on and off your lights at set times work wonders in deterring would-be thieves. There are apps for your smartphone that even let you turn lights on and off remotely whenever you want to. Buy a dog. Dogs can be more effective than any alarm.
All these measures will lessen the risk that you become a victim. You do not need sophisticated checklists, monitoring technology, alarms and other gadgets to keep you and your family safe. Use common sense, pay attention to these simple home security tips, and very likely your home will be that hard target that thieves find very unattractive.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
As Vice President of a Security Fusion Center, Bill has provided risk management advice and direction to major Fortune 100 defense industry, ultra high net worth and other clients.
As Global Director for Security, Alem International, Bill planned and directed all facets of the security and risk mitigation strategies for the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay that took place in over 34 countries.
Bill was commissioned as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer in the US Army immediately after college.
Mr. Gaskill has a Bachelor of Science degree in Ancient History with a math minor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.He has a current Top Secret/SCI clearance.He has professional fluency ratings in Spanish, Greek, Hebrew and French, and has a working knowledge of Russian.