Written by Robert D. Sollars
The weather is starting to warm up and despite what Punxatawney Phil said, winter is close to saying bye-bye. That also means that burglars and other ner-do- wells will be scouring neighborhoods looking for the easiest pickins to take from. We all like to think that at home we are safe from the outside world and all the miscreants that thrive on helpless and unprepared people & families. Unfortunately, it only takes a minor event to shake that invincibility we feel.
It is unfortunate, but there are so many things that are so simple to protect ourselves, loved ones, property, and even our pets from harm. Yet, we ignore these things because we feel that nothing will ever happen to us at home. All because we refuse to follow our common sense.
Your doors & windows are the most common entry point for a burglary. Many people don’t lock their doors when they leave, or at home. If a criminal is savvy enough then they will check your doors first to see if they are unlocked, which also includes the doggie door.
If you have an attached garage, ensure that the door remains down and secured unless you are directly in physical eyesight. There are numerous reports of people being robbed, vandalized, and even raped or murdered because the garage was left open, which by extension includes all doors to the house.
I’ve never been a big fan of doors that have so many windows in them as to allow someone to easily break one and get in or worse look into the house and be able to case it from the street, curtains or not. Front doors that have leaded glass in them are perfectly okay, they offer some, I empathize some, protection. Some of these doors also have thermal glass that makes it a bit harder to break.
The locks that you employ should also be of concern. Make sure they are adequate and don’t leave too much of the bolt exposed. Nothing should prevent them from locking properly, which also includes the door itself not hung correctly. Always ensure that you have a deadbolt on the door. However, if the door itself is in disrepair, then no lock will help, no matter how high tech.
You have to make sure that if it’s wood, it’s not a hollow core. You can test this out by knocking on it. If it echoes then it probably is. If it is…then you need to replace it with a solid core door. Even cheap or used doors are better than hollow ones.
A tip on the way your door hinges swing…try to never let your doors swing outward. While swinging inward has its risks, if they swing outward, you can’t stop someone who wants to gain entry and throw you off balance by pulling you outside. This automatically throws you off-kilter and they can gain entry. But, if the door swings inward…then you can at least have some leverage to prevent them from pushing it in (watch for techniques in the self-defense blog in a few weeks).
Never open the door to anyone who you don’t recognize or who you haven’t called for a repair. This is one way that criminals can gain entry into your home. Innumerable elderly, disabled, sick, and naive people have been injured, robbed, and worse because of being too trusting.
I don’t know a single utility company that doesn’t issue ID cards to their employees, and the contractors who work for the utilities also have them. If you are in any doubt about someone ask to see their ID card and call their company to verify who they are.
If you didn’t call them… Don’t let them bully you into opening the door when you don’t want to. Criminals will lie, cheat, and say anything to get you to open the door. Once you open the door nothing can stop them from walking in and doing what they want. This also includes giving you a sob story about your dog, cat, kids, needing help or something similar.
In order to ascertain whether they are legit or not you need to ask the 5 W’s and H before you open the door for anyone or anything. Yes, it’s an old journalism term that is just as applicable in security as it is in journalism;
Who – Who are they and who do they work for?
What – What do they want and why?
Where – Where do they need to go and why?
When- When were they called and by who?
Why – Why do you need to let them in or open the door?
How – How did they know there was an issue.
Some of these questions are redundant, which is the idea. Pay attention to ensure they are consistent with their answers. If they can’t answer your questions to your satisfaction, then don’t let them in and call the police. Trust your gut instincts.
A few other brief tips:
- Ensure that the jamb itself is in good repair, inspecting it thoroughly for cracks or another type of weathering that may weaken it.
- Carry your phone to the door with you. Dial 911 but don’t hit the send button until it becomes necessary. This way you’re prepared if the person is there for a nefarious purpose.
- Keep your phone and hand behind the door, many criminals will think you have a firearm and it will force them to think twice. A trick? Of course, because it works.
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