My time in the military has gifted me a unique way of looking at the world. I was trained to see where threats lie and take measures to mitigate them. While most people look at their homes as a place of comfort and security, I see them as a target of the unscrupulous underbelly of society.
In this article, I will provide advice and tips on how to increase the security of your home. I have decided to break the topic down into sections based upon what I see as the worst offences in home security.
Operational security (OPSEC) is paramount in the military as it should be in your home. I feel that this is where a lot of families fail and should take more careful consideration.
In the military information is distributed on a ‘need to know’ basis. Individuals outside of your household and family unit do not need to know all of your movements and the inner workings of your home.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps that you can take to lock down your family’s OPSEC.
#1. People post far too much on social media. The most obvious and grievous offence is posting that they are away on vacation and leaving their home vacant and ready for pillaging.
Do not post on any social media that you are away from home, instead wait until you return from your trip to post photos.
Social media is a major source of intelligence gathering for the criminal element as well as our enemies abroad.
#2. Be careful of the pictures and videos that you take and post of the inside of your home. This includes live video streams like Zoom or Skype. What you are in effect doing, is allowing would-be thieves to create a complete inventory of the valuables in your home. If you have to video conference do so in a way that the background is a blank wall.
#3. On that note, do not post anywhere online the expensive jewelry or electronics that you have bought.
#4. Also, never under any circumstances post or indicate on social media that you have firearms or other weapons in your home.
You should not disclose to anyone the presence of firearms or other weapons in your home and ensure that your children understand this as well.
#5. Keep all door/alarm codes and passwords strictly confidential and known to only those who are required to know them. This includes Wi-Fi password access to your network, which can become a major security risk especially if you have smart home devices.
Never use the default password for your router, instead create as strong a password as possible using an online password generator.
#6. Make sure that your children understand what things they should not disclose to their friends and classmates. Children are the weakest link in your family’s OPSEC and they are going to have to be constantly reminded of the rules.
#7. When you do leave your home vacant for any period do everything in your power to make it appear occupied.
Set timers for lights, leave a vehicle in the driveway.
Also, make sure you have a friend or family member collect your mail and papers.
There is nothing that can prevent someone with ill intent from eventually entering your home. The best you can do is make your home unappealing to break into and as difficult to enter as possible.
In the military, we would have multiple layers of defence and deterrents and your home should too.
#8. Control who has keys to your home. Sometimes we need to give contractors access to conduct their work. Some deadbolts can be re-keyed in seconds by the homeowner. This allows you to provide a key to a contractor and upon completion of the job the deadbolt can be re-keyed denying them access.
Another option is a deadbolt with a keypad where you can set a code for contractors or family members to use that you can revoke at any time.
#9. Get a dog and train the dog to bark every time there is a knock at the door or the doorbell rings.
My chocolate lab scares the crap out of every delivery person who comes by. I have watched people on my surveillance cameras decide to not approach the front door when they hear the barking from inside. The size of the dog is not as important as the volume of its bark.
Putting a beware of dog sign out also helps to deter would-be intruders.
Secure Your House
#10. Install the best deadbolts and door locks that you can afford.
Do not use any locks that are Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capable since these locks can be hacked and opened with the right equipment.
Also, install door latches and locks that can only be accessed from the inside.
This way anyone wishing to invade your home while you are inside, will have to effectively bash the door off the hinges to fully gain access.
This will give you time to escape or for law enforcement to arrive. One tactic the army always instilled in me was to always have a way out.
#11. Install motion lights around your home to eliminate any areas of shadow that intruders can use to conceal their activities. This is why military bases have floodlights illuminating the perimeter.
#12. Install security cameras around your home covering every entryway. When something goes bump in the night you can check the cameras rather than exit your home putting yourself at risk.
#13. Home alarm systems are great, but you need to advertise to criminals that the alarm exists.
The sign and stickers your alarm company includes with the system should be clean and visible from the street.
When I worked in private security I watched would-be thieves, avoid doors with alarm stickers, and test the locks on doors that had no alarm stickers.
Being aware of your surroundings is probably the most important action you can take when it comes to not only your security but the security of your home.
In the military being detail-oriented was very important as well as being constantly aware of one’s surroundings. We had it constantly drilled into us to always be aware and to never slip into complacency.
#14. Keep an eye on your neighbourhood. Get to know who your neighbours are and the types of vehicles that are usually parked in the area or driving around. This way if a criminal element is scoping out homes in the area you are more likely to notice because they will seem out of place.
#15. Do not blindly approach your front door when coming home. When you are unlocking the main entry door with your back turned you are very vulnerable to attack. Take a look around before unlocking your door.
#16. Never open the front door to strangers. As soon as the door is unlocked and opened a crack it only takes a swift kick to gain entry.
If you have a storm door you can use this as a barrier between you and the stranger. Some security cameras have two-way voice communication which you can use to talk to people who come knocking.
Be Really Careful About This
#17. One tactic that criminals often use is to impersonate a police officer, city worker, or personnel from a utility company. Society has conditioned us to be trusting of people in uniforms and I can tell you from experience that wearing a uniform and walking with a sense of purpose, has granted me access to many areas I was not authorized to be in.
The same is true of anyone wearing a high-vis vest carrying a clipboard. Always check the credentials of anyone knocking at your door. If a police officer is at your front door politely ask to see a badge and then call the local detachment to confirm that they are a real police officer. The same works for city or utility workers, always call and confirm their credentials.
None of us should live in fear but having a healthy level of awareness and a security mindset will only serve to keep you and your family safe and secure from potential home invasion or burglary.
These tips and suggestions are only a few that come from years of training and experience as a soldier and I am confident they will serve to secure your home.
This article first appeared on Ask A Prepper.
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I have read that it is not a good idea to put up a “beware of dog” sign, as this can leave you vulnerable to a lawsuit should your dog injure someone.
If you have it posted, and they enter anyway, it is on them. Not you.
liability depends on the laws in the area you live, and I have read that if you post a “Beware of Dog” sign, then that might be used against you as proof you knew your dog might attack, and instead recommended to post a sign like “Dog on Premises”, which lets others know you have a dog, but does not acknowledge the Dog may be hazardous.