Home burglary is a crime of opportunity. Burglars see opportunities where homes are unoccupied for hours at a time. If the risk is low and the reward is relatively high, burglars will take advantage of those opportunities whenever they arise. The question for homeowners is how to make sure burglars do not get the opportunities they are looking for.
Could a home survey do the trick? Law-enforcement officials in Henderson, Nevada think so. They have developed a relatively simple, easy to use a survey that homeowners can utilize to identify and address their security risks. The survey can be freely downloaded from the city of Henderson’s website.
For the record, the survey is not a poll asking for homeowner opinion. Rather, it is a series of check points that homeowners can review as they walk around and survey their properties. Thus, it is more of a written assessment than anything else. A thorough reading of the survey suggests that it could be an extremely helpful tool.
‘Okay’ or ‘Needs Improvement’
It seems as though whoever designed the survey did so with a purposeful intent to keep it as simple as possible. That would explain why the survey is looking for one of two responses for every item on the list: ‘okay’ and ‘needs improvement’ (NI). The idea is to walk around your house and check one of the two boxes pertaining to each item.
Law-enforcement recommends that the list be followed in the order in which it is presented. It has the homeowner starting in the front yard before moving to the back and side yards. There are reasons for this, which we will get into shortly.
After surveying the yard, homeowners are encouraged to look at:
- detached buildings
- garage doors
- front entrances
- sliding glass doors.
They are also led through the process of evaluating windows and doors on a room-by-room basis. The survey covers the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. It concludes by looking at a number of miscellaneous items ranging from automated lighting systems to burglar alarms
Something marked ‘okay’ is judged to be adequate. Things marked ‘NI’ constitute a to-do list for the homeowner. It is all fairly simple to understand. The only drawback is that the survey does not explain how to determine which box to check for every item. Some items are described in enough detail to make a good decision, while others are left more to the judgment of the homeowner.
Giving Homeowners a New Perspective
If nothing else, the Henderson property survey should give local homeowners a new perspective on their properties. Officials designed the survey to account for the way burglars go about their business. If you can see your property the same way burglars see it, you might be motivated to make a few changes.
For example, let us go back to surveying the front yard. There is a very good reason the front yard is first on the list. According to crime statistics, the front door is the preferred entry point for burglars whenever possible. This may seem counterintuitive to someone who doesn’t burglarize homes for a living. But to the burglar, it makes complete sense.
A burglar can walk up to the front door without arousing much suspicion. If he or she can quickly breech the door and get inside, the chances of being caught are greatly reduced. On the other hand, prowling around the back of the house or peering in through basement windows is a good way to draw attention to yourself.
Most homeowners are unaware of how popular the front door is to burglars. Homeowners in Henderson are made aware of that fact when they take the survey. The survey encourages them to assess bushes and shrubs, ground cover, lighting, and street visibility. The idea is to help them understand that increasing the visibility of a home’s front door can decrease the likelihood of burglary.
Assessing Interior Spaces
Taking care of outdoor risks greatly reduces the chances of a home being burglarized. And yet, there are still things that need to be looked at inside. The living room is the first item on the interior list for the simple fact that most front doors open into either the living room or an alcove close by.
The second room on the survey is the kitchen. Homes that have sliding glass doors out to the rear yard tend to locate those doors in the kitchen. Such doors are another attractive entry point for burglars.
The point of assessing interior spaces is to determine how easily burglars could enter and, once inside, access valuables. The latter point leads to the topic of home security.
Home Security as a Deterrent
Home security systems that make noise and provide 24/7 monitoring represent one of the most effective tools for stopping burglary. It is not that a home security system will physically keep burglars out; it will not. Rather, home security works as a deterrent.
In a recent blog post, Vivint Smart Home cited research data from the University of North Carolina that shows just how powerful home security systems with video surveillance cameras are. That data suggests that more than half of the convicted burglars that researchers surveyed would avoid homes with surveillance cameras.
Here’s the thing to understand: burglars want to get in and out as quickly as possible in order to avoid being caught. Surveillance cameras instantly plant a seed of doubt in a burglar’s mind because they provide indisputable evidence to the crime. A burglar terrified of being caught will gladly pass up a house with video cameras in favor of one without them.
Whether you live in Henderson, Nevada or elsewhere in the country, the survey put together by the local police department can help you understand the security risks that might exist on your property. Why not download it and use it yourself? You might find that you need to make a few changes to keep burglars away.