While home break ins are not unique to our part of the world, we have had our fair share and there is a strong desire to see this eliminated in our communities.
While there is no easy fix or a one size fits all solution, there are ways each homeowner can make it less likely for them to become a target.
While it is fun to communicate with friends and family online, it is also a means for thieves to track your whereabouts. Don't use facebook them where you are going to be and at what time, unless you have someone watching your home. Better to connect with them after your dinner or celebration. If you want to invite friends for a night on the town, call them or send an email.
Also reachout to your community association. Several have apps available to homeowners that provide access to police and security and to other homeowners in the area.
If your home is surrounded by a 6 foot sold concrete wall, you would be best to have a roaming pack of guard dogs roaming freely inside the walls.
Afterall, if thieves get over the fence, which they can easily do, they can take their time fiddling with doors and windows to find a way in to your home. Even if you have bars and solid door locks, if no one can see them they have time to find a weakness and gain entry.
If you have plants and bushes, make sure they do not obstruct the view of your entrance from the street. If someone is passing by they can see if someone is lurking at your doorway and notify someone. Get to know your neighbours and make sure they have your contact info for just such an emergency.
Exterior lights and motion sensors can deter a prowler and make them visible to you or a neighbour. There are strong lowcost LED lights that use less electricity than a porch light and can light up your property perimiter all night long. Motion lights attached to the home can light up areas next to the house or bodega whenever it detects movement. Of course dogs, cats and local skunks and racoons can set them off but it should make your home less attractive to would be thieves.
Even if you don't have motion lights, get a timer for interior lights. You can set them to go on and off at certain times, whether you are home or away. Leave a TV on with the volume up to also discourage an intruder. Most don't want to confront a homeowner if they may be home.
Doors and Windows
The most common means of break ins are through insecure doors and windows. Windows left open or unlocked are an easy means for someone to get inside. If you have doors make sure the locks are solid as are the frames as well. Sliding patio doors are a joke as far as offering any means of security since most can be lifted or pried open easily. Replace sliding doors with full frame tempered glass for added security.
Windows should have locks to prevent them from being opened from outside. If you don't have locks on the windows, make sure they are braced securely or install bars on them. While no one likes to look like they are living in a prison there are some talented welders in the community who can create a secure decorative window covering that offer added protection.
While it can be a pain to have to go through the house and lock all the windows whenever you want to go out, it beats coming home to find out everything of value is gone. Also keep in mind that desperate thieves often don't care if you are home if they can get in and out without you knowing. If you are out back, lock the front door. If you are sleeping upstairs, lock the doors and windows downstairs. Be safe not sorry.
Alarm systems come in a wide range of offerings and provide another deterent to would be thieves. An audible alarm can notify you or a neighbour if someone tries to gain entry. Many systems come with an app that sends you a text or SMS message if the alarm is tripped. Contact a local installer to get options suited to your needs.
A good security camera system can be expensive but can also provide added security. This is especially true for those who live alone in that a simple doorway camera can be set to allow communication with someone at the front door without having to open the door. Surrounding the house with cameras can be a deterent to intruders who don't want to be seen, but keep in mind many thieves are now wearing masks and the police have stated that they cannot arrest someone just because you have them on video. Nonetheless cameras should help make your home less attractive to a thief who wishes to avoid being caught on video for all to see.
Of course no one solution is an answer to our problems, but by putting some thought into the security of our homes we make the entire community safer. Talk to people, know you neighbours whether they are short term or fulltime residents. While we can put all our faith in the local security companies or the police, it would be wise to consider options that work for your particular circumstances and budget. They can't be everywhere all the time.
There are many things you can do today that can discourage intruders without much expense. If we all make an effort to keep our properties safe, we can make our entire community safer.