If you’ll be out of town for a few days, don’t advertise your house’s vulnerability to potential thieves by careless word or deed. This was the advice of Philippine National Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. to residents during the preparations for this year’s long weekend preceding All Saints Day.
Whether we like it or not, our houses inadvertently signal to crooks that the masters aren’t home, and like low-hanging fruit, they’re ripe for picking. Jay Arcilla, business development manager for Net Pacific Inc., which offers commercial or residential security set-ups as part of their wide roster of services, says, “It’s best that people take a proactive mindset and consider ‘security as a primary agenda’ as opposed to [waiting] for an incident to happen.” Called a systems integrator in their industry, Net Pacific can wire up an establishment for their telephone and networking requirements, and putting in CCTV systems is also part of the services they offer.
The human and canine factors
If you plan to be away for quite a while, ensure that your dogs get adequate care by a visiting friend even without you around. After all, they won’t be able to watch your home properly if they’re miserable, thirsty and hungry.
During your absence, have a relative or neighbor—even your landlord—check on your home. Briefing your househelp on what to say if a total stranger calls is also important. Imagine your maids disclosing to possible crooks that ate or kuya is going to be away for quite a while—it’s tantamount to announcing open season on your place of residence. If it’s better to give them their own holiday time to prevent them from blabbing to neighbors about your absence, consider it the lesser evil.
And if you’re not too confident about Inday’s background, maybe you should reconsider leaving her to watch your home. “Although most homes are protected from external threats such as break-ins, a lot of the thefts occur because of internal causes,” points out Arcilla. “These occurrences normally come from members of the household who take advantage of the homeowners’ schedules. That is why most homes are installed with cameras monitoring the activities inside the home.”
Locks, alarms and booby traps
While we wish to be as resourceful as Macaulay Culkin’s character in Home Alone and rig our house to be impervious to any invasion, a reality check is usually the best start to evaluating and fortifying your home for the holidays. As Arcilla says, “Homeowners at best should consider the entry and exit points of their homes, condos or town houses. They can also secure their belongings by having safe vaults and alarm systems.”
Observe the following tips in fortifying your place of residence:
• Look around your home for any possible weak points like window-type air-conditioners, or places where a burglar might attempt entering your home; ensure that flimsy locks, doors, screens or grills get replaced. Sliding doors and windows can be further strengthened with a metal bar placed along the rail to prevent it from being forced open.
• If you live in a community, notify your barangay captain or the village association and ask them to send a patrol to check on your home every so often. Charm, 39, leaves the window drapes of her home open so any suspicious activity can be immediately noticed by the roving guard that passes along her street.
• Take the time to stroll around your favorite mega-hardware shops at the malls to look at gadgets you can use for your own domicile: motion sensors that shriek to scare away thieves or abruptly turn on high-wattage lights; sensors that detect when a window is broken or a door opened; light-sensitive sensors that detect an absence of daylight and turn lights on at night—and if you have outdoor Christmas lights rigged for this, make sure they won’t conk out if one tiny bulb dies; and timers that turn radios on and off at different times of the day to give the impression that someone’s home.
A pinch of prevention certainly outweighs a pound of cure when it comes to keeping your home safe.
For more tips on safeguarding your home, get a copy of the December-January issue of HealthToday magazine, out now in newsstands and bookstores.