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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Prep Tip #8: 25 Questions About the Outside of Your Home

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Original Article

One of your first lines of defense is the exterior of your home.  Here are 25 questions to answer about the exterior of your home to judge what kind of message your home is sending to potential burglars/et al:

  1. Do you have your name on your mailbox? If so, take it off so that strangers who come up to your door won't be able to address you by name as part of a ruse.
  2. Do you have a locked mailbox and/or only send mail via a secured mail box?  Mail theft is still one of the easiest ways to steal an identity.  By securing your mail as much as possible you can deter this type of theft.
  3. Is your house number clearly visible from the street?  On the other hand, you do want to be able to call for emergency aid and have them respond to your house as quickly as possible; a clear address will assist with this.
  4. Do you have favorable landscaping in front of lower level windows?  Rose bushes, cacti, and other spiky plants will deter burglars from breaking in through lower level windows in your house.
  5. Is all overgrowth and debris removed from the areas surrounding your home?  This will not only help block wildfires but will also discourage people from stealing your unsecured property and/or providing concealment for lurkers.
  6. Do you dispose of packaging from various high end items (TVs, computers, etc) somewhere other than at the curb for your weekly garbage pick up?  Leaving this type of packaging laying around outside your home lets potential burglars know what kind of items you keep inside your home.
  7. Do you have adequate lighting all around your home?  With the flip of a switch you should be able to illuminate all of the areas around your home.
  8. Are exterior stairs and walkways secure and free of debris?  This is more for your benefit as it will provide a safe place for you to walk and avoid falls.
  9. Are all upstairs windows inaccessible from the outside?  This means no trellis or trees that would allow someone to crawl up and into your home.
  10. Do you keep all outside property secured?  This means no keys left in the truck or the tractor, all motorcycle and bicycles locked up when not in use, etc.
  11. Do you have a garden hose and fire extinguisher easily accessible from outside?  These items are useful for fighting unexpected fires.
  12. Does the outside of your home look well maintained?  Sloppy landscaping and a generally unkempt look can make you home look unoccupied and be an invitation to burglars.
  13. Do you have an exterior security system complete with remote access cameras?  This type of system can be very useful for both discouraging thieves AND for identifying them after the fact.
  14. Do you regularly inspect large trees in your yard and remove them if they are in poor condition?  Better to take down sick and dying trees on your timetable rather than to wait for a storm to do it for you.
  15. Are your outbuilding secured?  Outbuildings often contain tools, spare gasoline, and other valuable items that thieves are looking for.
  16. Is your property fenced?  This is a small deterrent but a deterrent nonetheless, to keep out unwanted people.
  17. Do you walk your property regularly to check for problems that need to be fixed?  By walking your property regularly you will notice when fences need to be repaired, when shrubbery begins to look over grown, etc.
  18. Do you have warning signs posted?  No trespassing and beware of dog signs let people know you are serious about protecting your property.
  19. Does your home look "lived in" both during the day and at night?  By having a car parked in the driveway it makes people think someone is home during the day.  By having interior lights go on and off at various times during the evening, it makes your home look like it is occupied whether it is or not.
  20. Do you always close and lock doors when you enter or leave the house (including the garage door)?  Leaving doors and windows unlocked or leaving the garage door wide open all day is an invitation to have your home burgled.
  21. Do you hide a spare key outside just in case someone in your family forgets theirs?  Burglars know where all of the hiding spots are so this is yet another open invitation to have your home burglarized.
  22. Do you keep your drapes or blinds set so that it will make it difficult for people to see into your home from the outside?  No use leaving all of the valuable items in your home on open display for anyone who walks by.
  23. Do you make arrangement for package pick up/drop off?  A note on the door telling the delivery person that you work from 8am to 5pm does nothing for your packages or your home security.
  24. When you go on vacation do you have someone to pick up you mail/the newspaper as well as ensure your home remains secure and the yard is mowed?  If you are gone for an extended period, it is a good idea to have an actual person coming around regularly to check on your home.
  25. Do all family members abide by the rule to not talk about the items your family owns (guns, gold, etc) as well as not talk about vacation plans or other times that your home will be unoccupied?  Blabbing about valuables in a home can make you a victim of either burglary or home invasion.
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