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Security Survey Tips

A home security assessment is necessary to identifying weaknesses in your security that might provide an easy opportunity for a crime to occur.

This checklist is intended to assist you in identifying possible weaknesses in and around your home. You should assess your home’s security from the standpoint of a burglar.

  • What may or may not attract a burglar to your home?
  • Is there a Neighborhood Watch on the street?
  • Is there good visibility in and out that might allow neighbors and police patrols to see a burglar?
  • Are doors and windows difficult to defeat?
  • Is there an alarm system in place to hurry the burglar?
  • Are belongings marked or inventoried that might result in recovery and/or an arrest after the fact?
  • What can I do to make my home too risky for burglars?

Use this checklist to check your home for any security weaknesses. Then, make the necessary changes to “harden the target”.

Residential Perimeter

  • Are your house numbers readily visible from the street or county road?
  • Is your address properly painted on the curb, or applied to a roadside mailbox to help emergency responders locate your home?
  • Shrubs and trees should be pruned away from sidewalks, driveways, porches, doors, windows, and gates to eliminate hiding places. Bushes under windows should be pruned below the sills. Tall bushes should be pruned from the ground up to expose feet and legs. Tree limbs and branches should be pruned upward at least six feet to open a clear field of view both onto and out from the property.
  • Lighting should be directed to cover the front, rear, and sides of the house, such as motion-sensored devices, that are vandal-resistant and mounted under the roof eaves.
  • The best fence is one you can see through. Privacy fences provide privacy for residents AND burglars. Gapping wooden slats enhances visibility. Place horizontal rails on the inside, not the outside (creating a ladder). Lock fence gates when feasible.

Garages/Sheds/Barns

  • All personal doors should be solid core or metal cased, with deadbolt locks, reinforced strike plates, and guard plates to hinder prying.
  • Overhead rolling doors should have a secondary locking system to compliment the electric opener.
  • All-purpose shed doors should be secured with a high security padlock with a protected shackle or a disc lock to hinder bolt cutters. The receiving hasp should be secured with bolts through washers or a steel plate on the interior to hinder prying.
  • Any windows should be secured by a secondary lock on or in the window track.
  • Doors and windows should be illuminated at night. Contents, such as lawn equipment and bicycles, should be marked or inventoried by serial number and photographed.

Residential Exterior Barriers

  • Doors
    • All exterior doors should be of a solid material, such as wood, metal cased, or fiberglass. All exterior doors should be secured by a deadbolt lock. A latch or bolt is only as strong as the strike plate it engages, make sure the lock you're considering comes with a heavy-duty plate and 3-in. screws. Locks can be installed on the door lower or higher than typical to reduce leverage, and more than one lock can be used.
  • Breakable glass in the door or within 40” (arm’s reach) is a concern which can be mitigated by the application of glass security laminates, acrylics, or break resistant glass.
  • Patio or French double doors should also utilize a good deadbolt into a stationary door that is secured by header and threshold bolts into metal strikes. Because these doors are typically weak due to all the glass, a secondary barrier system is recommended, such as a charley bar or a t-bar door guard.
  • Sliding glass doors need extra security against prying and lifting. A charley bar or an old broom handle can prevent opening. Three screws into the top track, backed out to just clear the top of the door, will prevent lifting. All door hinges should be on the inside. If not, an extra step must be taken to secure outside hinges.
  • Windows
    • The security of any operational window can be enhanced with a secondary lock or barrier to compliment the manufacturer’s latching system.
  • Wooden windows can be pinned using a drill and ten-penny nail. Aluminum framed windows can be better secured by installing removable track locks.
  • Newer vinyl replacement windows may have security “wings” or pop-out latches that stop the window from being raised. A simple wooden dowel, cut to fit snuggly in the track, will suffice as a locking device.
  • Double-paned windows, storm windows, and glass security laminates are considered secondary locking devices. Thorny bushes or prickly shrubs are ideal plantings below window sills.

Residential Interior

  • Security Systems
    • A burglary alarm may not prevent a burglary but it will hurry the offender. So, don’t skimp on hardware thinking that just an alarm system is sufficient to protect your home. An alarm system is only an additional security layer. Consider installing one if the home is empty most of the day or if you own collectibles, firearms, and other valuables. The addition of a home alarm system will potentially shorten the time a burglar will be in your home.
  • Video Surveillance
    • Home surveillance systems are practical and economical. They come in hardwired and wireless varieties. You can install them quickly on your own or pay a company to install and monitor. The beauty of these systems are that they can be monitored from your smart phone. Depending on the type of system that you install, you may be able to bark out commands when you first see an intruder on your monitoring device.
  • Video Doorbell Systems
    • These systems are easy to install and they allow you to monitor and speak to whoever approaches your door. It also helps you verify package deliveries.
  • Lighting
    • A smart bulb is an internet-capable LED light bulb that allows lighting to be customized, scheduled and controlled remotely. ... Many types of smart bulbs enable the home owner to control brightness as well as RBG color. With smart lighting, traditional light bulbs are replaced with smart light bulbs, which screw into the existing sockets in your home. An internet-connected hub connects all of the bulbs, providing control over the lighting in your home from a centralized location.
  • Safes
    • A safe must be selected based upon its intended function. A document safe is intended to protect against fire. A security safe is designed to protect valuables. Safes come with various U.L. ratings and capabilities. If you are not willing to purchase a high security safe, place your valuables in a bank’s safe deposit box. If you do utilize a security safe, it is best to secure it to the foundation of your home so that it cannot be carried away.

Property Inventory

  • Documentation
    • Record all serial numbers of electronics such as flat screens, laptops, desktops, audio components, firearms, cellular devices, lawn equipment, bicycles and any other valuables with identifying numbers. Take digital photographs of valuables, especially jewelry and collectibles without serial numbers
  • Storage of Documentation
    • Your inventory list should be saved so it can be retrieved by you at any time in the event of a loss due to theft, fire, flood or other event. Recorded serial numbers also aid law enforcement in the recovery of stolen property and the arrest of offenders. An item’s unique serial number is the only way to positively identify a specific piece of property, link it back to a reported offense, and return the item to its rightful owner.

While nothing can make your home absolutely “burglar-proof,” these recommendations are intended to create security layers that, if implemented, can serve to reduce criminal opportunity and make it more difficult to force entry into your home.

If you would like the assistance of a Deputy to help you complete this survey and make recommendations, call 409-835-8744 or email sheriffs@co.jefferson.tx.us.