No home can be made completely burglar-proof. If someone is willing to risk his or her life and liberty, he or she will get in. However, a less determined “target of opportunity” burglar can be deterred. It’s time to think about home security.

I have taken a LOT of residential burglary reports throughout the past 39 years involving a wide variety of dwellings — from single-family homes and farmhouses to apartments and condos. I can’t recall any that didn’t look like an easy target from the get-go, with little apparent thought or attention to home security or defensibility. Not one of those burglary reports I investigated had a sign-posted, working alarm system.

Think Like a Home Burglar

Criminals are lazy and have an aversion to hard work (that’s why they’re criminals). Burglars are often addicted to drugs, so the more difficult you make it to enter your home, the less likely criminals are to attempt entry. Instead, they will search for easier pickings. When you begin looking at a potential new home or apartment, try to look at it through an intruder’s eyes. How easy would it be for you to breach your potential home?

Look first at the approach to the prospective home. Is it clearly visible from the road without obstruction? Would a passing police car or concerned neighbor be able to easily note any suspicious activity from the road? If you were to arrive home, could you note anything amiss from most sides of the house? Homes set far off the road allow prospective burglars and thieves too much undetectable time on target.

What about the rest of the neighborhood? How do the other homes in the area compare to the one you are considering? Do they appear to be neglected? What about the neighbors’ vehicles? Drive around the area at varying hours from afternoon through evening. What do you see happening? If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, there is probably a good reason for it.

Assess and Address Your Home Security

As you tour the house, note the entrances. Do the doors appear to be solid and mounted in solid frames? Is there a deadbolt on at least the front door? What about the windows? Do they have proper locking mechanisms?

How difficult would it be for a prowler to see in from the outside? Can you see people approaching from inside? Does the interior provide defensible positions?

Security against nature is important too. Are there multiple escape points in case of fire? If you are settling in a tornado-prone area, is there a basement or cellar? Is there too much glass? This became popular in the modern houses of the mid-1950s through the 1970s.

Security in a home can always be enhanced after purchase. If there is no security alarm, or if you are moving to an apartment where a hard-wired alarm can’t be installed, add a SimpliSafe wireless alarm system. The front door of our home didn’t have a peephole, but since my wife is blind, a peephole would have been of little value. We installed a Ring Camera doorbell system. We can monitor and talk to anyone coming to our front door, and I can see who is there. The field of view is amazing, covering most of our driveway.

Hopefully, some of these suggestions will slow you down a bit as you consider your new home. Remember, you should focus on security just as much as aesthetics.



About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, police department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.