The truth is, we were living in denial. Even though we had taken some steps to ward off the casual criminal, we also had the welcome mat out. Unlocked vehicles with the keys inside. Unlocked sheds. Unlocked doors. False sense of security.
We live in a rural area, so we anticipated our threats would come in the form of drive-by. Our “security” was mostly from that access point. Our house, cars, structures (and chickens!) are all completely fenced and patrolled by the dogs. No one can drive up to the house without sounding the driveway alarm. The front gate is locked and lit all night long by solar lamps. Barking dogs greet anyone who approaches. The UPS guy hates us.
Maybe that was all working, there have been no drive-by attacks. However, we missed something important. Even though our property backs up to farm fields, from the back, we were vulnerable. Our intruders came on foot. Their tracks give away their general location about ¼ mile away. On foot, they had access. They met no resistance. These are local criminals. It is likely they will be back.
We were lucky. Our losses were mostly vandalism. Damage to vehicles. Minor theft. They did not breach our fenced compound. They did not come into the house. No one was hurt. This time.
Lock everything! Doors, windows, gates, sheds, vehicles. Keep all keys in a secure place. Color code them instead of labeling. Don’t make it too easy for a criminal to figure out which key goes to what. Have back up keys locked up in a second location.
Fencing. It doesn’t have to be The Great Wall of China, but adding an obstruction, is another layer of protection. Post “No Trespassing” signs. If you live in town, consider your front door as your “fence”. Keep it locked and don’t open it unless you know who is on the other side. Just because someone knocks, doesn’t mean you have to answer. Teach your kids to come get you when someone is at the door.
Lighting. Set up motion sensor lights or install solar lighting around the property. Criminals don’t like to be on display.
Guard dogs. They are quick, loyal, always on duty and a force to be reckoned with. Even if your criminal decides to disable your dogs, the dogs will have sounded the alarm and bought you some precious time.
Protect your valuables. I’m not just talking jewelry here. Have a nice trailer sitting in the drive? Put a hitch lock on it. That pretty BBQ, riding mower or bike…put it away when you are done using it. Have a habit of leaving the garage door open during the day? Don’t encourage future theft by showcasing your tools and equipment. Think of your garage as you would any living space. Private! Keep the garage door closed unless you are going in or out.
Electronics. Cameras, monitors, alarms…there are tons of options. New technology lets you view live remote video feed from your computer or phone. Easily installed and readily available, look into purchasing a system and then make sure you install it. These might cost you a couple hundred bucks, but it’s worth it.
Neighbors. Talk to your neighbors and develop a plan. Exchange numbers. Put these in your cell phone immediately. Share travel plans so that someone will always be watching out, even when you are away.
Arm yourself. Whether it be pepper spray, baseball bats, machetes or firearms, you should have a weapon to defend yourself with. You can bet your intruders will! (Of course, guns require a little extra safety if you have children around.) Whatever your weapon of choice, practice and make sure you know how to use it. Consider taking a self defense class.
Police. Report all theft and crime. Petty or not, it will build a case for increased patrols and surveillance.
Rewards. If you know your criminals are local, offer a small reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who committed your crime. In today’s economy, money talks.
Taking control of security is one way to let go of fear.
We are in the process of implementing ALL of these security measures and others that will work for our situation. This list is not all-inclusive. Feel free to share your tips on security. Let's help each other keep our homes and families safe. Do this today!