Five Essentials of Home Security
Above: Antique Afghan Locks from Chambers Architects Collection
by Tex Thompson
Right now, millions of Americans find themselves suddenly living and working entirely from home. While this is great news for reducing home burglaries, it also represents a greater security risk for the residences, businesses, and property that we are leaving behind. Whether you are locking up your child’s college apartment, an elder’s residence, or a business storefront, here are some tips for keeping these places safe and undisturbed – no matter how long you are away.
1. Secure gates, sheds, and storage units with a high-quality padlock. Look for one with significant weight: the heavier it is, the tougher and more tool-resistant it will be. Make sure the shackle (the movable ‘arch’ at the top of the lock) is as thick and robust as your door hardware will allow, since this is the part of the lock that thieves usually attack. It’s best if the shackle is not exposed: shrouded padlocks offer a shackle guard for this purpose, as do hidden-shackle (aka ‘hockey puck’) designs. Remember, though, that any lock is only as good as the hardware it’s used with – so now is the time to replace any flimsy chains, rusty hasps, or weak hinges on your door.
2. Keep vacant homes well-lit, nicely maintained, and looking as ‘lived-in’ as possible. Nothing attracts burglars and squatters more than an obviously vacant, derelict property. Automated exterior lights are great if you have the means, and keeping lawns mowed and mail & newspapers picked up is a must. Consider enlisting a neighbor for this: paying someone to house-sit can be as much of a blessing for them (especially right now, when so many people are suddenly short of work) as it is peace of mind for you. A human being is the smartest home security system on the market today!
3. Keep car remotes & key fobs well away from the vehicle. Automotive technology has advanced enormously in the past decade – and so have auto thieves. Modern vehicles are often stolen by a method known as ‘relay theft’: a thief will use special signal-boosting equipment to ‘steal’ the signal from the key fob inside your home, and then broadcast it to unlock the vehicle outside and drive it away. You can prevent this by keeping your key fob far from the vehicle (for example, in the room farthest from your garage/driveway), or in a signal-restricting environment: your refrigerator, microwave, or a steel box all work well, or you can buy a faraday cage for exactly this purpose. If you have an auto going unused right now, remember that many newer vehicles need to be driven for a few minutes at least every week or two in order to keep their batteries charged. At vacant properties, it’s also a good idea to move any visible vehicles (e.g. from driveway to curb) every so often to keep the place looking occupied.
4. Don’t leave a spare key on your property. The hide-a-key rock, the front door mat, the flower pot – these are the first places a potential thief will look. The safest place for any spare key is with a neighbor or friend. Alternatively, consider putting your spare key in a realtor’s lock-box in a hidden location (such as clipped to the water faucet behind the hedge). This way, even a thief who finds the box will have a hard time retrieving the key without the combination. (Some of our clients have also gone the extra mile and put their spare key in the bottom of a potted plant. No-one is likely to go digging up your begonias unless it’s a real emergency!)
5. Choose your smart lock / surveillance system carefully. E-locks and smart security systems are more popular than ever – which makes it more important than ever to be thoughtful in your selection. For electronic locks, we always recommend choosing one that offers a traditional keyway, so that you still have a way in if the battery dies or a circuit fails. For smart home security – such as Ring, Nest, and August – be sure to read up on their strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to protect your system from hackers and security exploits. And for businesses, services like Alarm.com and Pro-Vigil can offer excellent real-time video monitoring of your premises, with trained personnel keeping an eye on your camera feeds 24/7.
And of course, for any security concern, your local locksmith is here to help. Please feel free to contact us at Bee’s Keys: as an essential business, our storefront is still open six days a week, with 24/7 emergency service available as always. We have proudly served the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1950, and our best-in-the-business locksmiths and security specialists standing by to guarantee your peace of mind – today and every day.