Editor’s Note: This resource has been revised and updated for 2018 best practices.
A major component of family preparedness is the maintenance of comfort, control, and self-preservation in a time of crisis. Whatever the source of the crisis, we as humans want to protect the homestead and our loved ones at any cost. (And by the way, many species on the animal kingdom do the same.)
The reason I bring this topic to the forefront is that recently, at a community meeting, I learned that home burglaries in my area are on the rise. This, in a community where many still do not lock their doors, was no surprise to me given the dire straits so many are in financially. And this isn’t localized. As the financial crunch continues with no end in sight, you can expect to see property crimes on the rise.
The meeting was a wake-up call reminding me that I need to do an inventory of the home security and crime prevention measures currently in place so that I can ensure that both my family and my preps are secure. In doing so, I came up with these 20 time-tested crime prevention secrets for preppers.
20+ [NOW 30+ in 2018] Countermeasures to Secure Your Homes and Families From Crime
There are lots of things we can do to make our homes seem uninviting to criminals. The more difficult your property looks to breach, the more likely it is that would-be thieves will select an easier target.
1. Secure your doors with multiple locking mechanisms
Yes, it is an annoyance to carry multiple keys but why make it easy for the bad guys? A deadbolt is essential and even two would not be excessive. Make sure the locks are difficult to pick.
2. Reinforce your door frame
Remember that a lock is only as good as the strength of the door frame. It doesn’t matter how many locks you have if they are only supported by a flimsy interior frame. A strong person can generally break those down with a well-placed hit from a shoulder. Invest in a high-quality metal frame. These are very difficult to breach.
3. Do not leave keys out
Even if you think you’re being clever, don’t leave keys under mats, under flower pots, on top or door frames or in one of those $3 magnetic key carriers that fit under the frame of your car. Thieves know about these places and are more creative than you might think when it comes to locating a spare. Here at my place we have secured a spare key in a coded key vault, similar to the type real estate agents use. (And dare I say that I have lost my keys more than once on the trails and that having a spare has saved the day?)
Key Box mounted at my back porch
4. Do not put your name and address on your key ring
If you lose your keys, and who hasn’t, why advertise your home location and provide easy entrance? You might as well put a sign on your front door that says “TAKE ME”.
5. Keep your outdoor areas well lit
This does not have to be costly. Even shaded areas will benefit from inexpensive solar lighting. Put porch lights on a dawn to dusk timer and make sure your garage entrance is not shrouded in darkness. Motion lights around doorways can be startling since they come on when a person walks up to the door.
6. Consider an alarm system
I am not talking about an expensive monitored alarm system and, as a matter of fact, I think advertising that you have a monitored system, whether it is true or not, simply tells the world that you have lots of goodies that need protection.
When I say alarm system, I am referring to a loud horn or blast that goes off when someone invades your territory. This is especially effective if you have neighbors who will also hear the alarm but even in a more remote area, the alarm will annoy and dissuade the burglars from sticking around. These wireless motion sensors can be installed on doors to scare away a person trying to break in. Best of all, they’re battery operated and will still work during a grid-down event.
7. Add internal locks to critical storage areas
This includes your emergency food storage area, crawl spaces, and your freezer. Many people keep their freezers in the garage, which can be one of the most vulnerable areas of your home since it is typically dark and remote sound-wise from the rest of the house.
8. Secure your mail
In addition to minimizing identity theft, an overflowing mail box is an open invitation to thieves who will assume you are not at home or traveling. Invest in a PO box – they are cheap.
9. Keep your outdoor areas tidy
Trim shrubs that are close to the house so that strangers can not skulk behind them, waiting and watching for the best time to attack. Make certain that the perimeter of your home is clear of hiding places. Open spaces make it easier for the neighbors to see if someone is up to mischief too.
10. Notify the police or sheriff that you are going to be gone
This may not work in all situations but here in my rural community, we are encouraged to let the authorities know when we are going to be off-island for an extended period.
11. Be wary of people who come to the door
Whether they are strangers, delivery people, or even officers of the law, if they are unexpected, you need to be alert. These are all common ruses that precede home invasions. Have your pepper spray handy and ask for ID. If in doubt, do not open the door. Ask for a badge or ID number and call it in. Remember, uniforms can be readily purchased online and in these days of Photoshop, fake IDs can be easily created on a home computer.
12. Add locks to your gates
If you lock your gate, then you don’t have to worry about people showing up right at your door. Plus, you’ll be sure to be on high alert if there’s a knock at the door.
13. Know your neighbors
I have said this before and will say it again: neighbors and community members who know you by name and by face will be the ones that will watch your back in a crisis. You do not have to become best friends with these people – but you do need to say hi once in awhile and perhaps get involved in some community activities so that they can get to know you and you, them.
14. Get a dog
A dog is a great, really great, early warning system. Heck, my little six pound Yorkie makes a lot of racket if a stranger is walking around outside at night. He might not scare an intruder once he is in the house, but he certainly would give the would-be burglar reason to look elsewhere. Plus, we would know that someone who should not be here is close by if not inside our home.
15. Landscape with inhospitable plants
In hospitable doesn’t mean the plants aren’t beautiful. Thorny plants like rugosa rosebushes, bougainvillea, or blackberry vines make it far more difficult to sneak around outside of windows or to climb fences. You can find a full list of inhospitable plants here.
16. Make arrangements to have your property looked after when you go away
Have someone mow the grass when you will be gone for a week or longer and if you still have the newspaper delivered, for goodness sake, stop delivery while you are gone. You can also put a light and a television on a timer so that it looks as though someone is home. There are a lot of reliable house setters out there. There are some that do it for a profession practically and have impeccable references. Of course getting a close friend or family member you trust is always a good option if you can. If someone is in and out quite often or there the entire time, it doesn’t give thieves an opportunity to predict patterns so they have time to orchestrate a robbery.
17. Secure sliding glass doors
Before bed each night, block the track of sliding doors with a metal bar or a piece of wood. Those locks are very easy to force.
18. Secure sidelights or doors with large windows
It’s a very simple thing for a thief to break out a small window, then reach in and unlock your door from the inside. Invest in some decorative metal grid work to make this more difficult.
19. Create a safe area to which you can retreat
In a worst case scenario, if someone breaks into your home while you are there, it’s important to have an area that you can run to until help arrives. Reinforce a bedroom door with a good quality frame, and replace the flimsy interior door with an exterior one. Have a way to call for assistance inside the room, and a method of self-defense like a firearm. You can learn more about building a safe room in your home or apartment here.
20. Zip those lips
This is my weakness and something I will commit to stopping RIGHT NOW! In my effort to spread the word about family preparedness, I talk about my own efforts, what I have, how I am storing it, and worst of all, where I have located my stuff. Shame on me. What I have effectively done is advertise the fact that if the SHTF, you can come to my place because I have food, I have water, I have stuff. This is going to be difficult because I do want to educate and help others. But I am going to really try to be a bit more private going forward.