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The first type is the “price shopper” who knows that their home needs some security upgrade like a deadbolt for instance. However, they are some times reluctant to spend money and they may feel that they are being paranoid. Many times after speaking with the homeowner on the phone they insist that the area they live in is very safe and that their neighbors are always home so they don’t worry too much about break-ins.
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The second type of homeowner that calls is the victim of a home burglary. They want to repair the damage from the break-in and also upgrade their security. Of course, I also get other phone calls but for simplicity we will stick to the two types listed above. Basically we have a “price shopper” and the “victim” types of callers.
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The “price shopper” is easy for us to relate to. We all want a good deal, and we don’t want to be accused of being paranoid by friends and family. Generally the price shopper either has locks that need repair or service, or they are aware of a hole in their current perimeter security. Sometimes I get the impression that the “price shopper” wants to be reassured that their current security is satisfactory. This of course I do not do until after I have performed a site inspection!
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It is more complicated to relate to the “victim” as many of us have not been the victim of a burglary or break-in. I know quite a few people who have had close calls when it comes to a burglary or theft, or they have lost something in a minor crime that was not really that valuable to them. Another factor is that we sometimes insulate ourselves from crimes so that we don’t worry or upset our family by focusing on negative things. It is a sad fact to accept, but houses get burglarized every day.
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Rather than go into a statistical analysis of property crime, or argue about the safety of the area they live in I simply offer to perform a security evaluation of the customer’s home. Whether “victim” or “price shopper” I offer the customer a security evaluation and generally spend about 30 minutes with them and make suggestions. Many of my suggestions are do-it-yourself type of suggestions but some require the use of a locksmith or handyman. These evaluations are sometimes called a “Threat Assessment”. There are no obligations to use my service when I perform an evaluation, but my services are available if the customer decides to follow through on the suggestions later.
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Provide the outdoor perimeter of your home with plenty of lighting.
Trim back bushes and trees to limit hiding spots for a potential burglar.
Keep the yard tidy and remove any junk or clutter.
Cut up large boxes from major purchases instead of placing them by the trash. This is usually a tip to a burglar to target your new TV!
Use signage like “No Trespassing”, “Beware of Dog”, and Alarm signs or decals to deter criminals who may be profiling your home for a crime.
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Close curtains and blinds to prevent observation into your home.
Lock windows when leaving home for even short amounts of time.
Purchase dowels or thumb turn window locks for windows that have a lack or a poor quality of lock mechanism.
Consider using a window film that makes glass more difficult to break.
Replace screens when they become damaged or are falling out of the window frame.
Limit access to windows by locking up maintenance ladders, chairs, and tools.
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Make sure every exterior door has a deadbolt properly installed.
Make sure the door jamb is reinforced with wood and long screws. This is usually the critical weak point when a door is pried or kicked in.
Glass sliding doors should have a dowel placed in the frame to prevent opening. There are products available for this often referred to as “Charlie Bars”.
Consider replacing screen doors with security doors made of steel or iron.
Replace screens on all screen doors, insure locks are functional, and you might also replace screen door glass with “Pyrex” or “Lexan” glass.
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Never give out a spare key to a neighbor. Place spare keys in locking boxes mounted to a door or garage. These are often called “Realtor Boxes” and they lock the key in an armored box only opened with a numerical code.
Never leave your house keys unattended, or on the key chain when you have work done on your vehicle.
Never leave keys in the open when shopping, socializing, or visiting friends or co-workers.
Always carry a spare house key or car key in your wallet or pocket-book.
Consider keying your doors alike except for one door used only by the baby sitter, cleaning staff, or delivery workers. Then if this person is let go from service you are only paying a locksmith to rekey one door rather than ALL of your exterior doors.
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All doors should have a peep-hole viewer or camera to identify visitors prior to opening the door.
Firearms and important documents should be locked in a quality safe or lock box. The safe should be bolted down or otherwise tethered to prevent theft of the entire container during a break-in.
Consider adding a basic burglary alarm system that communicates with an alarm monitoring Central Station.
CCTV or surveillance cameras are becoming easier to install and more affordable. Consider adding a system as they are excellent deterrents and can often help identify an intruder when viewed after the crime.
Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent to make sure you are protected for all of the valuables in your home. (Alarm systems are a great way to get a discount on your home owners or renters insurance.)
Record to video media all of your personal property; especially collectables, jewelry, firearms and other items. Keep this video media (DVD, CD, Thumb Drive, Tape, etc.) in a safe, or in a safe deposit box off site.
Mark your property with a unique mark or name with a scratch pen to easily identify your goods if they are recovered later.
As far as the two types of callers, my opinion as a Locksmith and Security Professional is that as a “price shopper” this person is on the road to making a good decision regarding their home security. They are aware of a need and are moving forward on it, sometimes with a gentle nudge in the right direction. If a caller is a victim of a burglary, I request that they please teach what they have learned to family and friends. This information from a respected peer can make a difference, and can prepare them to take steps toward crime prevention n their home.
In closing, please consider these tips regardless if you rent or own your current home. Do not assume that the current security features of your home are satisfactory. Have a security professional evaluate your home security. Every home can benefit from a security evaluation, and the peace of mind that comes with one is worth the time and effort. Discuss home security with all of your family members and other occupants to develop a plan for upgrading security and establishing a protocol to utilize during an emergency or crime.
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In years past, the prime targets for break & enters were the homes of the wealthy, but now with all of the electronics and other small but valuable items in the average home they too have become targets.
Don’t just assume that because you have some form of security that you are totally safe. Make sure you keep yourself aware of potential updates for your security system, and review the other safety devices that you can utilize to keep your home safe.
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The heart of the VATS system is a resistor pellet embedded in the shank of the ignition key. Each VATS key will have one of fifteen different resistor values. When the VATS key is inserted into the ignition switch, the resistor pellet is positioned between a pair of contacts located inside the ignition lock. Each time the lock is turned to the ON position, the VATS control module routes an electric current through the resistor pellet and determines the value of the resistor.
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If the value of the resistor pellet in the key matches the value stored in the computer’s memory, the computer allows the car to start. If the value on the resistor pellet does not match the value stored in memory, the car will not start, and a timer will prevent the car from starting, even with the correct key, until a predetermined penalty period has elapsed
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