Most of us have a good home, in a good (safe) neighborhood, where we feel comfortable. Unfortunately, violence has no physical boundaries, only conditions. Even a good neighborhood is a target for crime. Home burglaries, vehicle theft, stalking, crimes against children – all of these crimes and more can happen.
You should not become paranoid or scared, but you should find out what your family's weaknesses are and find a way to eliminate them. Here are just a few tips that can make a huge difference:
When going outside, stop for a second and look around. You should know what looks 'normal' around your home and neighborhood. If you see a person, vehicle, or something else that looks out of place, start watching closer. Be ready to call the police. The biggest mistake is in ignoring those out of place people, things or conditions. Most crimes are either pretented or stopped by an alert neighbor.
When you are outside working in the yard, look up and around once in a while. The biggest problem I have seen when walking through my neighborhood is that everyone is so engrossed in their yard work that they do not look up. Someone could be walking into your home and you may not even notice. If your children are outside, check on them regularly. Know with a reasonable certainty where they are.
When coming home, scan the area before you get to it. Look down the road or street. Check the yards and houses. You may see someone loitering or hanging out that could be a problem. If you see ANYTHING that looks out of place, do not go home, keep driving and call the police. Home invasions and burglaries can happen as you are getting your groceries or bags to the door to go in. These people usually hang out, or hide close by and wait for you to drop your guard. I have read numerous accounts of people getting surprised as they were entering the house, arms full of stuff, trying to turn the alarm off. In this instance you are so preoccupied that you do not notice the person coming up to you.
As for your home, make sure you have good, sturdy doors to the outside with strong locks and deadbolts. Your outside lighting should work reliably and should be motion activated. Any dark spots can hide something or someone dangerous. Trim the bushes away from your windows and doors. This will also eliminate a hiding place. Make sure you can see who is at the door without having to open it. Install a wide angle peephole or have a window near the entrance that you would look out of first – before opening the door to the unknown.
The whole idea of safety is this: Better to do something rather than nothing. Anything you do to increase your safety will result in a better overall feeling of security. If you can, find a security expert or call your local police department and ask them to perform a security assessment of your home. Most places will do this for a low cost or even free.
Now, go out and enjoy yourselves. Do not forget to pay attention!
David S. Jenkins
Rochester Personal Defense