Safety While at Home Alone
The fear of being attacked while at home is terrifying. A home, apartment, dorm room should be a place of safety. However, because criminals do not respect themselves, they do not respect the rights, privacy, or property of others. Victims who had their residence burglarized or worse, assaulted inside their home, feel violated and vulnerable because both their home and personal safety were compromised.
As a highest percentage crime, burglary is most often committed by criminals who steal property to sell it in order to satisfy their drug addiction. Sometimes burglars are transients seeking places to sleep, use drugs or steal food. Burglars who seek the thrill and excitement of entering someone’s home or apartment usually start by entering the premises when no one is home, then progress to unlawfully entering when victims are present; usually while victims sleep. Burglars who are also rapists, most often attack victims when they are alone, but some are undeterred and will assault even if a roommate, boyfriend or husband are home.
There are a number of things to consider for home defense against criminals who seek to break and entered into your home or peep into windows while you are home.
Ten Home Security Tips – Burglary Prevention
1. Always keep your doors locked, even when you are home. Intruders are very bold, and many have walked through unlocked doors, even during daylight.
A large man escaped from a psychiatric hospital. He canvassed a local neighborhood to find an unlocked door. A female resident went outside to get her mail. She returned a minute later to find him attempting to open her front security gate. Fortunately, by habit she always locked the gate. Neighbors saw the man and called the police who detained him and subsequently readmitted him into the hospital. According to his records, “This individual has a history of violence.”
Burglars are known to walk into a house through an open side door while residents occupy their home.
At the kitchen table of her apartment, a college student worked at her laptop computer. She went to the bathroom. When she returned to the kitchen, her laptop was gone and the sliding glass door ajar. This was an “opportunity crime” where the burglar most likely watched her or walking by, noticing the open sliding glass door and unattended laptop he seized upon the opportunity and stole her valuable property.
A high percentage of burglaries are opportunistic, so leaving a door unlocked makes you an easy target. You also increase the risk when you arrive home, or enter that part of the home, and suddenly surprise a burglar who had easy access to your home. Numerous other cases, homeless individuals enter through side doors to garages only to ransack vehicles and steal other property in the garage such as bicycles and tools.
A married couple were watching a movie in the living room and afterwards when they went into their bedroom found it had been ransacked. The burglar entered through the unlocked backdoor of outside attached garaged door. He then entered the house through the unlocked attached door.
Sometimes, victims were terrifyingly awoken at night by a drunk home intruder who misidentified their home or apartment and walked into their residence through an unlocked door. Other terrified residents were awoken by someone trying to open their locked doors that kept the drunkard on the porch or searching around the house trying to get inside while they called the police.
2. Be habitual about securing all of your windows. Especially during warmer months, homes and apartments without air-conditioning make security difficult. Many beach properties do not have air conditioning, so in beach communities where ocean breeze helps cool off house or apartment interiors, residents frequently leave windows and door open for cross ventilation, especially at night. Investing in a window air cooling unit that is properly mounted to the window frame can cool your residence in order to keep other windows secured during warmer months. Often beach communities are densely populated, which attract a higher percentage of Peeping Toms, burglars, and rapists who roam these areas searching for opportunities.
Close and lock second story windows too. Burglars and rapists climb walls and trees, or stack items nearby items in order to climb onto roofs and balconies in order to gain access to open second story doors and windows.
In a beach community, a serial rapist was entering homes through open windows. Despite publicity about the rapes and public service warnings, many residents continued to leave their windows open, especially second story windows and balcony sliding glass doors. This rapist remained at large for several more years.
Other victims were burglarized while resting or entertaining guests in another part of the house while the criminal crawled through an open window.
After tearing down the window screen, a serial rapist entered his victim’s apartment through an open window. Because she was hosting a party in another room, he lay in wait inside the victim’s closet. After her guests left, she opened the closet to change her clothes. Startled to see the rapist sitting on the floor, she screamed for help. Her roommates called police who arrived and apprehended him.
3. Assess the condition of all of your windows and doors. Add additional security measures if necessary. Ensure all locking devices work, and if needed, purchase supplemental devices. This is especially needed if living in an older building or college dormitory. Most hardware stores stock supplemental security hardware options.
- Secure windows with a dowel or thin block of wood. Placing it on the slide rail prevents the window from opening beyond the desired distance. Alternatively, install a screw type locking system that enables the window to remain in an (not more than six inches) open position.
- Don’t leave sliding glass doors or windows open. As a minimal precautionary measure, lock screens, and place a dowel within the frame, so windows and doors can be partially open.
- Leaving a small window open or locking a window in an open position less than 40 inches (100 centimeters) from a door is not advisable, because a criminal can reach inside the window to disengage the locking device on the nearby door.
- In order to prevent a burglar from pushing the middle of the glass to bypass the lock, move the window handle to the bottom of the window’s seal.
Where possible, trim bushes, replace old, ineffective locks and doors. Install motion detection lights or heat sensors to detect movement. Even if it appears to be a lucrative target, burglars are more likely to bypass a home with obvious security measures.
4. Develop a systematic method of securing your home at night and before you leave. Systematic means following the same steps or routine each time, so that if you get distracted, you don’t forget to lock a door or window. Doing this should take only a couple minutes. These couple of minutes might save you the violation of being burglarized or coming face to face with violent intentions. If you have a dog, keep the dog inside while securing your house for the night because dogs will likely alert on an intruder before you would.
5. Develop an emergency exit plan or safe hiding place in case of an intruder enters while you are home. Even if it is just a prowling cat, it is better to initiate a preplanned escape than to wait in bed with boiling anxiety. Being awakened by an intruder breaking into your home can be paralyzing. Ahead of time, identify safe rooms that have a land line telephone or consistent places that your cell phone has reception with an electrical outlet to plug in your phone. However, when calling 9-1-1 emergency systems, cellular telephones numbers do not match the place that you are calling from, especially when reporting a crime in progress.
Consider security alarms and activated surveillance systems to provide electronic early warning that your residence is being targeted or security measures are being breached. Some security systems have a wireless duress button feature connected to your alarm system that can be attached to a wrist or necklace. You can download an application to your cell phone to transmit in situations of danger and duress. However you need it close at hand, which is not always the case when at home or the threat turns out to suddenly be someone you know.
Emergency exit plans also double as rapid fire evacuation plans. Walk through your plan to ensure it is feasible to escape under the stress of an emergency. If you have small children, complicates emergency planning. By being prepared and having the proper mindset you’ll be able to deliberately apply one of the escape plans you developed. Go to a neighbor’s home or apartment and call the police. The Model Mugging Basic Course provides adrenalized practice to overcome the freeze reaction in threatening situations.
6. Recognize that showering, vacuuming or playing loud music causes sensory deprivation. Avoid continuous loud sounds when home alone, because sound prevents you from hearing noises outside or within the house. Ear buds and head phones drown external noise potentially allowing intruders to easily surprise you.
7. Deter Peeping Toms or voyeurs from looking into your windows or entering your residence. Keep window treatments closed in bedrooms and bathrooms day and night whenever dressing, showering, using the bathroom, or engaging in sexual activity. If bathroom glass is not obscure, install window coverings to prevent visual access into the room. The majority of Peeping Toms search at night and early mornings; some hunt during daylight. Watching women shower or change clothing are their primary objective.
To prevent Peeping Toms and thieves from “window-shopping,” rotate window blinds up and toward the top of the window. This allows outward visual access while preventing outsiders from invading your privacy. Blinds that are turned down, toward the interior allows people to see in and prevents you from seeing out! You should be able to view the ground outside your window. Blinds on second story windows should be reversed, so peepers cannot look up into the room (unless someone can stand on a landing outside of the window).
8. Case your house as if you were a criminal seeking to commit a crime. Inspect it from the exterior during both day and night time hours. Assess your residence for places criminals might conceal themselves or locations to better break and enter from their perspective. Ask a male relative or friend to also assess your residence who may share a different capability assessment. What would a Peeping Tom, rapist, or burglar see when looking into your house? Turn on your interior lights. Determine if someone can see inside. Be aware of the view from other apartments, especially in multi-story buildings. Note the positioning of fences, walls, trees and roof tops in relation to bedroom(s) and bathroom(s). These are areas from which Peeping Toms often watch their prey. Most likely, these are conditions that you cannot alter, but you can purchase window coverings that obstruct their view.
In addition to looking into ground floor windows, a Peeping Tom lurked around a large apartment complex and climbed walls, carport rooftops, and waited in tree branches in order to stare into second story windows at women.
9. Keep firearms secured in locked containers that you can reach quickly. Firearms are an excellent equalizer against a larger, stronger assailant or multiple assailants. If you rely on guns for home defense, quick access combination safes are good. Trigger guards or locking devices are cumbersome, especially when one is frightened and stressed in an emergency situation. Using weapons, especially firearms for defense requires realistic training and physical skills, as well as a mindset to willingly deploy the weapon for self defense. Terrified that a burglar invaded their home in the middle of the night, on occasion, firearm users have mistakenly shot an innocent person living within the home, so realistic training is essential.
In order to prevent unwanted injuries or death to gun owners or innocent people, firearms must be kept secure and inaccessible to children and others. Many states have legislated negligent parent laws that criminally charge parents for “accidental” shootings involving unsecured firearms committed by their children.
Numerous intruder calls made to 9-1-1 operators involved frightened residents who locked themselves in a bedroom or bathroom. Upon arrival police determined that the “intruders” were in fact a roommate or family member who unexpectedly arrived home.
10. Know how to protect yourself, if confronted by an intruder. You may not be able to get to that firearm, other weapon or device in home defense. Almost any item can be used as a weapon. You may not be able to get to a safe room or escape and may have to deal with an assault.
Apply other crime prevention tips and techniques as appropriate and make it harder for a criminal to attack you or your property. Layer your defenses rather than rely on any item as a sole defense such as locks, electronic surveillance, dog, weapon, and personal fighting skills. A criminal may bypass your layered defenses and still catch you by surprise.
Whether the assailant is a stranger, acquaintance or an abusive ex-partner, or a stalker, having the fighting experience for similar scenarios is your last layer of home defense.
Even with the best security measures, situations arise where one must be properly trained in physical skills and mind set. Model Mugging shows students how to use their body as a weapon. Model Mugging students learn to apply the four general options within the Five Principles of Self Defense, and how to respond during the phases of an assault from using verbal strategies to incapacitating techniques practiced full force against an assailant while in a fearful physiological state. This adrenaline Stress Training is based on research and martial science.
Ten Home Security Tips – Burglary Prevention
1. Always keep your doors locked.
2. Be habitual about securing all of your windows.
3. Assess the condition of all of your windows and doors.
4. Develop a systematic method of securing your home at night and before you leave.
5. Develop an emergency exit plan or safe hiding place.
6. Recognize that showering, vacuuming or playing loud music causes sensory deprivation.
7. Deter Peeping Toms or voyeurs from looking into your windows or entering your residence.
8. Case your house as if you were a criminal seeking to commit a crime.
9. Keep firearms secured in locked containers that you can reach quickly.
10. Know how to protect yourself, if confronted by an intruder.
Other Apartment and Home Safety Crime Prevention considerations:
Walking to Your Home
Options for defending against the door blitzer.
Is a burglar inside upon arriving home?
Safety While at Home
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