HOME SAFE HOME

Your home is your castle and it needs to be protected. Although your dachshund barks at anything that comes within 10 feet of the front door, more can be done — both inside and outside your castle.

On the inside, get a safe. On the outside, consider an alarm system.

Darren Shepard, vice president of Total Safety Inc., said burglar alarms, door and window contacts, and motion detectors deter would-be burglars.

“If any of these contacts are broken or severed, an alarm goes off at our central station and one of our armed responding officers goes to the home,” he said. “We have authority to apprehend and hold perpetrators until police arrive because law enforcement agencies support us.

“They don’t respond to burglar alarms unless verified by a third party, meaning a security company, and that’s us. If we see some type of breach such as a broken window or door kicked in, we call police and they will respond. In the meantime, we are attempting to contact the homeowner.”

Shepard said homeowners can help secure their homes by enforcing doors with metal frames and placing security film on windows. Even a second-story window doesn’t stop a burglar from figuring out a way to get into the home.

Also, add stronger dead bolts with longer strikes that make it more difficult to kick in a door.

“Barking dogs are a deterrent and do intimidate burglars,” Shepard said. “But keep in mind that the person breaking into your home is committing a crime and would have no remorse about hurting the animal.

“Burglars prefer to go into a home unoccupied. However, those involved in a home invasion want people there so the person can show them where the safe is and also turn off the alarm system.”

When it comes to a home safe, Ed Kraszewski, locksmith and shop technician at Stanley Security, prefers a safe that can be sunk into concrete below ground or be above ground bolted to the floor.

“A small floor safe starts at about 20 inches tall to 18 inches wide,” he said. “Any safe will give you some degree of protection and I suggest it be placed in an obscure location to remove temptation from burglars finding it. It’s a little different with a wall safe as they’re limited in size depending on how much room there is between the two sheets of drywall and the wall.

“I believe a box safe anchored to a concrete floor presents more of a challenge to a burglar than a wall safe which can conceivably be cut from the wall if burglars have the proper tools.”

When Kraszewski first meets a customer, he asks several questions including what it is they want to protect.

“There are many types of safes to protect different belongings such as coins, jewelry, family photos, sentimental heirlooms, cameras, guns, passports and official documents,” he said. “Once I have this conversation, I’m able to recommend the best type of safe. The better ones have a higher quality of steel and thickness and well-constructed doors and hinges. My suggestion is to spend at least 5 percent of the value of your contents on a safe.”

Shepard believes security starts with the homeowner, who needs to do as much as possible to deter and prevent.

“Too often we see homeowners who are more concerned about the aesthetics of their home rather than the security of their home,” he said. “They may not want a bar-type gate on the back door because it doesn’t look good, or floodlights that deter burglars at night. Or it’s inconvenient to set the alarm each time you leave the house or return home. It may be inconvenient, but it’s smart.”

Shepard said his company serves all kinds of homes including those in gated communities, where he believes some homeowners live with a false sense of security.

“Remember, security starts with the individual homeowner,” he said. “If that person believes he or she is safe because someone is at the gate or someone is driving around the neighborhood, that’s fine. But it’s not always the case. Homeowners still need to take full precautions. Don’t put your home’s safety in the hands of someone else.”

He has other advice.

“Keep in mind that a single thief, once inside a home, can ransack it in minutes,” he said. “So never leave a house key on your property such as under a rock, a doormat or in a potted plant. Burglars know these hiding places. Keep foliage trimmed as burglars love to hide behind bushes and shrubbery. Make the home look well-maintained and make sure all outdoor lights are in good working order.”

Shepard said there are more burglaries during summer months because more people are out and about, walking and driving around.

“And one more thing about that outdoor light,” he said. “Get a timer that turns your porch light off and on. People tend to turn on a manual porch light that stays on all the time, day or night. Burglars notice this.”

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