I’m sure my loyal readers will think that this article is about computer security as I write a lot about computers and technology, but this article is about physical home security.
With a complete house remodel planned, I’ve been thinking a lot about securing our house. I’ve been reading everything I can, watching videos, and even testing security first hand. There are articles and videos about locks, bumping, picking, and using tools to break locks. There is also information about reinforcing door jams and security systems. With all this information, I really have to ask “what is the purpose of securing a house?”. That question may sound simplistic, but it is relevant. Unless we build our house like Fort Knox with armed guards and basically no windows, there will always be ways to get in.
Let’s start with locks. There are locks in every shape, size, and strength. Does a lock really matter? Well, I’ve seen videos of people kicking in doors and, of course, we’ve all seen TV shows with police using a battering ram to go right through the lock. So, someone determined to get in through the front door will definitely do it. A reasonable quality lock is a decent deterrent. Next let’s look at a security screen door. What is the purpose of it? I managed to break the lock on our security screen door (not on purpose) and with my father’s help, we broke the door in about a minute using a tire iron. So, the security screen door isn’t going to keep someone out, but will keep a solicitor from entering the house while we’re getting a breeze through it.
If we move on to securing the door jam, it seems like a reasonable thing to do as I’ve seen videos of the door being kicked in and it is something to consider; however, as I mentioned above, a determined person will get in. No matter what you do to the front door, there are easier ways to get into a house. Windows (unless they are bullet resistant or very reinforced), are pretty easy to break or cut, so there is another way to get in. Locks on windows aren’t of much use.
Looking at security systems, they only work after the fact when someone has already entered or attempted to enter your house.
So, what is the answer to security? I think it is quite simple, you need to deter anyone from attempting to get into your house and make your house not look like an easy target. If you keep people away from touching your house, none of the physical security above actually matters. There are a number of ways to make your house look less attractive for a criminal, none of these is revolutionary and hasn’t been said before:
- Use motion sensing lights. This is pretty obvious, but a lot of people don’t have this and sometimes they are a nuisance, so they’re turned off.
- Install cameras that are visible as well as post signs indicating that the property is being video taped. The recordings, themselves, may not actually help to catch an intruder, but the presence may get someone to think twice about approaching. Also, depending on the type of system, you could trigger alerts of someone approaching.
- Watch your routines. In our last house, we always parked our cars in the garage, so if someone looked at our house, he wouldn’t know if we were home or not. In our rental, we can’t get our cars in the garage, so the presence of our cars means we’re home and the lack of one or both means we’re not home. When I travel, I take a cab to the airport or get a ride to make it less obvious that I’m not home. In our new house, we’re definitely going to get both cars in the garage.
- Don’t broadcast your whereabouts on social networks. This is pretty obvious, but have you ever looked at the number of people that checkin somewhere and post on a social network?
- Lock your back gate.
- Don’t give people a place to hide around your house; trim back bushes and trees directly adjacent to your house.
I’m going to use a combination of things to secure my house, but am under no illusion that my house will be completely secure, because that just isn’t possible.
Am I an expert on this? No, I’m just a regular home owner that has done some thinking about this problem.