The Psychology of Home Security

Home security is an illusion.

For some people, it’s the new gun locked in the gun safe that gives them the illusion of safety. For others, it is the knowledge that their home has lights set on timers while they are away on vacation. The reality is that those lights just illuminate the way, leading the bad guys to your valuables, and that gun isn’t going to protect you while it is responsibly locked up in a safe.

There are a million things we do each day that give us the false impression that we have protected our homes, and another million things we do each day that allow criminals to bypass our efforts. Just turn on the TV or open a newspaper – do you think that every person who was robbed or assaulted woke up and said, “Today is the day I am going to be unsafe! Criminals, come on in!”  Of course not! Each of those people thought that they were securing their homes and that crime would never touch them. All of us fall into routines that we believe ensure our safety, and we rarely alter them.

Let’s look at a few of the common home security techniques we all use to keep our homes more secure:
•    Locked doors and windows
•    Setting lights on timers when we are not at home
•    Asking a neighbor collects our mail while on vacation
•    Installing a fence around a house, or choosing a fenced-in development
•    Choose higher floor apartments
•    Having a dog
•    Choosing neighborhoods with nice lawns and landscaping
•    Owning a gun
•    Installing a security system

All of these provide the illusion of safety and security, but are really very easy for an experienced burglar to bypass. By using many of these so-called security measures, we actually become less vigilant about safety. Here is the reality we don’t see:

  • We may lock our doors, but we usually leave the garage door opener in the car, and the unlocked door from the garage to the house is never solid or secured with deadbolts. Back doors and basement doors often have weak locks, and door frames, and can be opened with a forceful kick.
  • Lights on timers are actually a sign to burglars that you are away from home. No one turns on and off lights routinely on the hour, day after day.
  • Neighbors have been known to forget to collect the mail or newspapers, and anyone watching your home will notice the mail being picked by someone else.
  • Fences are easily breached. In fact, having a fence leads many of us to have a false sense of security, and we leave windows and doors unlocked.
  • Again, residents on high floors often leave balcony doors unlocked, because of how high they are off the ground floor. Burglars can easily climb across from another balcony on the same floor, or down from the floor above. Thieves can rob your apartment no matter what floor you live on.
  • When you have a dog, you also have an unsecured pet door, and you leave your home to walk your dog at least twice a day. Any small burglar can watch your routine and pop in and out while you take Fido to do his business.
  • Thieves know that neighborhoods with beautiful landscaping means that there is expensive stuff inside the houses too. Very often those shrubs and trees actually obscure doors and windows, allowing burglars to climb in and out undetected. Smart burglars show up with a uniform, a landscaping or utility van, and can walk around empty homes unnoticed.
  • Owning a gun does not protect your loved ones, your pets, or your stuff. When burglars get into confrontations with an inexperienced gun-swinging resident, the gun often get turned on the homeowner.
  • Many people with home security systems don’t bother to arm them, especially when they are home. Bold thieves frequently walk into homes while families are watching TV or eating dinner, and grab purses, wallets and cell phones off the kitchen counter. Owning a security systems only doesn’t protect your home, only using it does.

So there you have it. What we think is home security is actually a bunch of routine movements that make us more vulnerable to burglary, theft, and potential assault. I am not suggesting that we leave our doors unlocked, but rather that we need to do a whole lot more to make homes and neighborhoods safer.
Home security is a lifestyle, not a one-time exercise. It requires thoughtfulness and conscious practice. You shouldn’t walk around paranoid, but you shouldn’t be over-confident either. Home security measures need to change and adapt to protect the people and pets in your home today, not the home you lived in years ago.

A good place to start is outside your home. Lock your front door, and then try to break in. If you can do it, so can the bad guys. Reinforce, change and rebuild any entry point you can find. Trim branches and remove anything that can assist a burglar. Lock up all garages and sheds securely, and fix any broken windows. Get a Los Angeles home security system, and use day and night.

Remember to work with your community and the police. Keep an eye out for anything unusual, and get involved in cleaning up areas that need it. If you use Facebook or Twitter, follow your local police departments and emergency services. And never ever post your vacation plans online – it’s like an advertisement that your home will be empty. You should encourage your neighbors to use more effective security measures as well.

When a magician reveals his trick, it’s easy to see how he does it. As you understand how burglars think and act, you’ll be better able to protect yourself using smarter home security measures. The more obstacles your home has, the less likely it is to be robbed. When your home is safer, it rubs off on your neighborhood, and if everyone gets involved, crime goes down and property values go up.

So now ask yourself, “Is my home really secure? How many of these home security illusions do I use?”

Adina Berzofsky is a blogger for LifeShield Home Security. She writes about security, safety, and parenting, among other topics. She is also involved in her neighborhood watch group. 
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