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Safe at home - Eight security tips for new arrivals

8/30/2011, 10:55 p.m.

Compiled by the North Bennet Street School, Boston

With the hassles of move-in behind you, it’s time to settle in and enjoy your new digs, right?  Well, yes – provided you’ve taken some time to think about the security of that apartment or house you’ll be living in.

September is a high turnover month in Boston neighborhoods, which means properties may be more vulnerable to break-ins while their occupants are getting to know their new surroundings.

But there are ways to make your home safer.  David Troiano, a registered master locksmith and head instructor at North Bennet Street School’s locksmith training program, suggests a two-step approach.  

First, says Troiano, pay special attention to your home’s most likely points of forced entry.  And second, make it look like somebody’s at home, even when you’re out and about.

• Existing door locks can be protected with an interlocking door guard, a set of metal strips installed on the door and frame that make it harder to jimmy the door open with a pry bar.

• For added protection, replace existing lock cylinders with high-security cylinders that are resistant to picking and drilling.

• Windows accessible from the ground or fire escape can be reinforced with low-cost window pins, a simple system installed from the inside where the two sashes meet.  Window bars or grates are an even better option, provided you can open them from the inside in the event of an emergency.

• Basement windows are another potential entry point, as they are often hidden by bushes.  Ask your landlord to keep these shrubs trimmed and the windows visible.  

• Use light to your advantage – put several house lights on timers, and set them at different intervals.  Outside motion detector lights can be a real deterrent to potential intruders at night.

• Going out? A radio playing softly near the front door can convince a potential intruder to move on.  Some motion detection systems come with a recorded dog-barking sound – an especially effective deterrent to break-ins.

• Consider an electronic security system – these systems range from basic to advanced, and are monitored by reputable security firms like ADP, Wells Fargo, and many local alarm companies.  

• For extended absences, maintain your unit’s lived-in look.  Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up. Put lights on timers. Leave your key and your contact information with someone nearby whom you trust.