Too often, information on securing your home focuses on life in big, crowded cities, or else it tells small businesses how to lock up their offices after dark. However, about 52 percent of Americans live in the suburbs. This means most of America is close to the dangers posed by major metropolitan zones, and most Americans have more space between dwellings, have larger lots to protect and are often a bit more complacent about security to start with.
If you live in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver or Phoenix, security for your home isn’t something to scoff at. Here are a few tips that target suburbanites like you.
Get to Know Your Neighbors
A thorough security system is a good investment — but there are plenty of ways cameras and alarms can fail while you’re away. However, in the suburbs, you have plenty of neighbors, and it’s likely that there will always be one or two around to keep an eye on your home. By being friendly with your neighbors, you can function as an informal neighborhood watch that deters crime with vigilance.
This isn’t to say that you need to be friends with your neighbors, but you should know their names, have some familiarity with their schedules and definitely exchange contact information. Then, if you see anyone fishy wandering around their property, you can give them a shout — and hopefully they’ll do the same for you.
Awaken Your Neighborhood
The more up-and-about your neighborhood is, the less attractive it seems to would-be burglars. This is because thieves like to operate unseen, and when people are jogging, visiting neighbors and generally existing on the sidewalks, it is much more difficult to approach a property unseen. Thus, if you moved into a dead-quiet suburban neighborhood, it’s time for you to wake it up.
You can set an example for others by spending plenty of time on the streets — taking walks, playing games and doing other things that bring you into the neighborhood. However, you can also organize block parties, start a community garden, host garage sales and take other steps to bring your neighborhood to life. Doing this could also increase the value of your neighborhood creating a community atmosphere that suburbanites crave.
Look After Your Yard
There’s a reason curb appeal is so important to home value: When a home looks well-cared-for from the street, it is likely well-cared-for all-around. Burglars see the same thing when they look at a well-tended front exterior — except instead of expecting to pay more for the property, they expect to encounter obstacles like locked doors and windows, security systems and alert neighbors. That latter difficulty will be even more worrisome if you can convince your neighbors to improve their curb appeal by caring for their front yard, too.
In addition to scaring away potential crooks, keeping your landscaping under control is a good idea because it gives criminals fewer places to sneak and hide. Keep your hedges low and away from windows and doors, and consider planting greenery like creeping juniper, prickly pear or firethorn, which are spiky enough to deter even the most committed criminal.
Install Burglar Deterrents
In addition to pointy plants and nosy neighbors, you will want to install a few more burglar deterrents around your home, to include:
- Security cameras. If your security system doesn’t come with cameras, you can install smart cameras that connect to your phone to alert you of activity when you’re away.
- Security signs. While they won’t keep all burglars away, signs advertising your home’s security don’t hurt.
- Bright lights. It’s good to have streetlights throughout your neighborhood, but if you don’t have one near your home, you should have plenty of landscaping lights to dispel burglar-hiding shadows. If you can’t stand the light at night, install motion-activated lights, which will only turn on when someone approaches your home.
- Locked mailbox. Mail theft is more common than you might think, especially if your mailbox is set away from your home. Invest in a mailbox that locks.
- Protective dog. Besides security cameras, barking dogs are the number-one deterrent for most burglars. Adopt a furry friend from your local shelter, and you’ll have a committed protector for years.
While some suburbs are safer than big cities, some suburbs aren’t. You need to work to protect your home, valuables and loved ones; fortunately, most of that work is doing things you should be doing anyway, like meeting your neighbors or doing yard work. If you know what burglars are looking for in a good, suburban target, you can make your home the exact opposite and stay safe.