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It's A Gray Area: Ways to protect your home

January 15, 2011|By James P. Gray

Recently I saw a flier published by the Newport Beach Police Department titled "When a Stranger Knocks" that discusses ways to protect your home. The flier also offered a free individualized home inspection with NBPD's crime prevention unit.

I was intrigued, so I called and spoke to Crime Prevention Specialist Andi Querry about the program, and she gave me some suggestions that even should be used if you live in a gated community.

The first focus of attention is your house's landscaping, especially near the front door. Large bushes and plants, as well as trees with low-hanging branches, can conceal potential burglars from your view and should be removed or trimmed. In addition, $200 will purchase a security camera system that is low tech and easy to install that will greatly expand your vision. Porch lights with at least 60-watt bulbs should also be placed on timers so that they provide illumination throughout the night. And movement detector lights are also helpful, but should only be installed in side areas of the house, where there is not much expected movement from cars, animals or large leaves being moved by the wind.

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Starting at the front door, dead bolts are a must. Many doors come with deadbolts but have only small screws holding the strike plate to the door frames. These should be changed to 2- to 3-inch screws, because otherwise the doors can easily be forced open. In addition, if your front door is within 40 inches of a window, the inside of the deadbolt should only be able to be opened with a key, not with a thumb knob. But keep the key hidden from the view of someone standing outside and also keep the key on a large chain so you will not forget and put it in your pocket. Otherwise in a fire or other emergency you could actually lock yourself inside of your own house!

Another important safety device is having a 180-degree view peep hole in all doors that lead outside. These are important so that you can see anyone who is knocking before answering your door, and also for you to scan the area around your door before you do such things as taking out the trash. Of course, you should also be quite careful of people who identify themselves are utility service or repair workers unless you requested the visit. Many times burglars masquerade as those workers to gain access to people's houses, and then do bad things.

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