Beefing Up Home Security

Home Security

Expansive glass, private yards, and sunny skylights make mid-century modern homes a peaceful respite from daily life. But those same attributes make them targets for burglars looking for quick access to jewelry, electronics, and other valuables.

San Mateo County, along with other areas throughout California, saw a rise of residential burglaries in 2013. Burglars—some parading as construction crews and laborers, and even as baby-carrying mothers with accomplices waiting in the wings—canvased neighborhoods, knocking on doors and looking for ways to get inside.

If you’re lucky and you’re home, intruders usually move on. But if you’re away, they are known to hop a fence and slip into the house through a sliding-glass door or open window. 

We typically rely on common sense to keep our homes secure: lock all the door and windows; store away anything that can be used to get onto the roof, such as trash cans and ladders; and place thin strips of wood or metal in the tracks of sliding doors and windows so that latches are jimmy-proof. And then there are the skylights; if they’re operable, we keep them sealed shut while we’re away.

Burglars tend to target homes that they can get away from easily without detection. A thief’s favorite homes are located in dark neighborhoods with good hiding places and escape paths, such as overgrown bushes and trees.

Eliminate hiding areas by keeping the landscaping trimmed and using remotely controlled lights. A barking dog is also a great deterrent—who wants to mess with a ferocious canine?—but the ultimate in security is a monitored security system.

Burglary deterrents
A study by the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice found that an installed security system makes a residential dwelling less attractive to would-be and active burglars. In fact, stats show that 90 percent of convicted burglars admitted that they would avoid homes that are equipped with security systems. 

Just ten or 15 years ago home-security systems had clunky keypads, black-and-white video monitors, and garish blinking lights. Today’s systems are slick, easier to install, and much lower in cost than before.

Mobile connectivity is the biggest trend in home security. New applications allow you to control house lights, unlock doors, and view video clips of anyone who rings your doorbell—whether you’re at home, at work, or traveling around the world.

“You can see when your mother-in-law is coming over, and you can remotely unlock the door, disarm the security system, and turn the lights on for her,” said Tim McKinney, vice president of custom home services for ADT North America. “Or, if it’s my mother-in-law, you could choose to not open the door.”