Home Security

Ever been locked out of your own home? Probably. At some time in their lives, most residents will experience this frustrating accident at least once. Have you ever thought about this possibility and made plans so you could easily get back inside? Perhaps you hid a spare key under that potted plant on the front porch. Or maybe you left a window unlocked in the rear of the house. 

Good ideas, right? Well, if you ever do lock yourself out you will probably pat yourself on the back for planning ahead. HOWEVER, if a burglar ever uses that key or that window to easily gain entry to your house, you'll be slapping yourself in the face instead.

Leaving a hidden spare key or an unlocked window certainly is not an original idea. It's a rather common practice, especially for someone who has ever locked themselves out. Unfortunately, burglars also know this and will take advantage of the opportunity to make it easier to commit their crime. Burglars do not want to have to work hard to get into a home and many will spend only a minute or two trying. The easier it is for you to break in to your own home, the easier it is for a burglar, too. And they usually will have had much more experience at breaking in to a locked house than you.

Nationwide statistics indicate that 2 out of every 3 burglaries are committed against a residence. The City of Longview's 2000 statistics reflects this with 67% of our burglaries being residential in nature. For just a little time and money you can increase the security of your home and reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

  • External doors should be made of solid wood or metal and have a sturdy, correctly-installed dead bolt lock. Using longer screws when installing the lock can increase the lock's strength. Use a double cylinder deadbolt lock (requires a key to unlock on both the inside and outside of the door) on doors that have a window to prevent a burglar from simply breaking the window and reaching through to unlock a single cylinder lock. Be sure to check the local fire code concerning regulations on the use of dead bolt locks.
  • Improperly secured sliding glass doors offer easy access to your home. Increase their security by placing a piece of wood or a broomstick in the inside track to serve as a jam. Commercial locks for sliding glass doors are also available. Drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame and then insert a metal pin through the holes to prevent the door from being lifted off the track.
  • Don't hide keys around the outside of the house. Instead, give an extra key to a trusted
  • neighbor.
  • If you move into a new house or apartment, have the locks rekeyed.
  • You never know to whom the previous resident may have given a key.
  • Install lights outside of your home to light up your yard and keep them on at night.
  • Install peepholes in entry doors so you can see who is on the other side. Do not depend on door chains, they are easily broken by an intruder.
  • Keep shrubbery and trees trimmed back so that they do not cover doors or windows, providing a concealed area for a burglar to work on gaining entry to your home.
  • Don't provide a burglar with tools to help him break in. Make sure you lock up any tools and don't leave them lying around the yard. Don't leave ladders in accessible areas that will assist a burglar to reach upstairs windows.
  • Conduct a home inventory and make a list of your valuables. Record the serial numbers of CD/DVD players, TVs, computers, cameras, etc. Take photographs of valuables, especially those items not having serial numbers such as jewelry. If possible, obtain an engraver to engrave your valuables with identifying marks or numbers.
  • If you are going to be out of town, buy some timers that will turn lights of and on in different areas of your house to give the illusion that someone is home. Lights that burn 24 hours a day signal an empty house. Also radios and /or TVs can be turned on and off by timer. Shades and blinds should be left in their normal positions. Make arrangements to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped while you are away or have a neighbor collect it daily. Mail or newspapers piling up are an easily recognized signal of your absence.
  • Do not leave messages on your answering machine that inform the caller that you are away. Instead, use messages with statements such as "I'm not available now" or "I am unable to take your call at this time".
  • Close and lock garage doors and windows. Ask a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway. If you leave your car at home, park it as you normally would. Vehicles parked outside should be moved occasionally to appear that they are being used.
  • Standard locks on garage doors are easily pried, allowing a burglar access to your home without detection. Cane bolts and hasps are excellent protection. Make certain each side of the garage door is secured to prevent prying open a crawl space. Any door leading from the garage into the house should be securely locked. The more barriers you provide against the burglar, the better protected you are.
  • Get to know your neighbors! One of the best things you can do to protect your home is to meet and learn about your neighbors. Neighborhoods where the residents know each other are safer places to live. Neighbors who know you will become extra sets of eyes and ears in watching for signs of trouble. Neighbors who are familiar with one another may be able to recognize suspicious activity that may appear normal to other persons.
  • Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one does not exist in your neighborhood, you can start one with the help of your local law enforcement agency. In Longview, residents may call the Police Area Representative Officer for the Patrol District they live in.
  • Ask your local law enforcement agency to conduct a free security survey of your home. Longview residents may contact their Police Area Representative Officer to schedule an appointment.
  • An alarm system is worth considering, particularly if you have lots of valuables in your home or live in more secluded areas where neighbors are not nearby. However, it is important that you learn to use the system correctly. Excessive false alarms are an electronic version of "crying wolf". People will begin to not treat your alarm seriously if it becomes a routine occurrence. That includes the police! Also, many cities, including Longview, have ordinances that provide for fines or fees to be charged to persons whose alarm systems experience an excessive number of false activations. Before signing up for an alarm service, be sure their system meets your needs and that the system will be properly serviced. Check references before you sign a contract.

Burglars are not always just thieves! Although the majority of residential burglars are looking to enter your home undetected and steal your valuables while you are away from home, there are some who may have other things in mind. Burglars can commit rape, robbery and assaults, and other crimes. Even the burglar who has no intention of causing physical harm may commit more violent crimes when surprised by someone returning home.

  • If upon arriving home you notice something suspicious a screen removed from a window, a broken window or an open door don't go in. Call the police from a neighbors house or using a cellular phone, if available. Move away from the front of the house where you can observe it from a distance while awaiting the arrival of police.
  • If you think you here someone breaking into your home at night, leave safely if you can and call the police. If you cannot leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
  • If you own a cellular phone, keep it on a nightstand or table next to your bed. This provides quick and easy access to a phone that can be carried with you as you escape or carried into a closet where you may hide.
  • If you own a gun, learn how to store and use it safely! Many accidental deaths in the home are the result of careless or inexperienced gun owners.