Fortify Your Home’s Defenses and Thwart Would-Be Intruders

It’s been called the “Ferguson Effect.” Crime rates in racially inflamed urban areas are rising throughout the country.

Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro pronounced, “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

In May, homicides in Milwaukee shot up 180% from the same period last year. Gun violence is up more than 60% in Baltimore. The looted-out city saw 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend alone, capping a month of violence and mayhem. Murders in Atlanta are up 30%; in Chicago by 20%; and New York by 15%.

So what can you do about it? You can arm yourself, avoid dangerous areas, and fortify your home’s defenses.

Landscaping Can Serve as a Burglar Deterrent

Sometimes the best defenses are the ones that don’t look like defenses. The layout of your yard and garden could either increase or decrease your likelihood of being burglarized. Thorny hedges or thick bushes in front of windows can deter random break-ins. Just making your landscaping look strategically placed might serve as an effective subliminal message for intruders to move on.

Most attacks happen at night. Make sure the perimeter of your home is well lit so that intruders do not have places to hide in the dark. Ideally, there should be no dim, shadowy areas large enough to conceal a person in your yard. Plan landscaping and outdoor lighting schemes with this in mind.

A burglar’s three biggest enemies are time, light, and noise. The more time a burglar will have to spend trying to break in, the more deterred he’ll be. The more visible he’ll be to neighbors or cameras, the more likely he’ll be to move on. The more noise he has to make, the more likely he’ll be detected. Gravel driveways and pathways make more noise when driven on or walked on than concrete.

Remember that intruders look for easy ways to get into a house or garden. By planning a few simple precautions into the design of your yard, you can make your home more secure. One of the best ways to keep thieves out is to use nature’s own defense mechanisms.

Here are some plants you might use (if suitable for your climate) in the defense of your home:

• Blue Spruce: These trees grow slowly and prefer moist, rich soil. They have rigid branches and thick, blue, spiky needles.
• Common Holly: Holly is a big evergreen shrub with dark green spiked leaves. Grows well in most soil types.
• Giant Rhubarb: This plant features huge leaves on erect stems and abrasive foliage. Grows well by water.
• Firethorn: The firethorn produces white flowers in early summer, with brilliant orange-red berries. The have thorny stems and can grow to 15ft. Great for impenetrable hedging.
• Shrub Rose: Pretty ground cover with pale pink flowers and very thorny stems. Growing season is May to September.
• Juniper: The juniper is an evergreen with golden-tipped, prickly foliage. It only grows to 2ft, but can spread to 6ft.
• Mountain Pine: These are dense and bushy. Mountain pines are very hardy, large shrubs or small trees, with long sharp needles.
• Blackthorn: The blackthorn, also called Sloe, is a spiny shrub. Its dense growth makes it suitable for hedges. Blackthorns have white flowers and bluish-black fruit which is used to flavor sloe gin.
• Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry: This spiny fruit bush produces greenish to greenish-pink flowers in clusters of twos or threes.

Locks, Clubs, and Fences

Other things you can do to build up your “castle’s” defenses include adding security bars to ground-level windows and applying anti-shatter adhesive film to all windows that are potential points of entry.

Upgrade your door and locks, if necessary. Opt for a quality door made of metal-clad or solid hardwood, hung in a metal or hardwood frame.

Most burglars will physically attack a door and its lock. A quality deadbolt lock (or two) is your primary point of defense. You can strengthen a lock by increasing the strength of the strike plate. This is easily done by replacing the original strike plate with a heftier one, then replacing the original screws with longer screws.

Chain locks can provide some additional protection, since they allow you to crack open a door before allowing someone in. But they can be defeated by a determined intruder. For added stopping power, consider something like the “Door Club.” It slides into a hole drilled in the floor and physically prevents the door from being opened. The Door Club can be slid into place once you’re inside the house.

A fence that blocks out neighbors’ views into your property may be beneficial from a privacy standpoint. But it’s not ideal from a crime prevention standpoint. It allows intruders to hide from view. A low fence or one which can be seen through lets you and your neighbors see if something or someone is out of place.

Security Alarm Systems Can Help Prevent Home Invasions

A home protected by a burglar alarm is three times less likely to be burglarized than is a home without one. And even when a burglar breaks into an alarm-guarded home, he’ll usually leave with less than half the pickings he would have looted from an unguarded house.

Although elaborate security systems can be expensive, the prices of most of the technological components involved (such as video cameras) have come down a lot in recent years. Inexpensive video camera systems can be installed to monitor your property from the safety of your home’s interior. Or remotely, via the web.

Security companies are increasingly wanting to install web-integrated “smart” components. But you may be creeped out by the thought that someone with an Internet connection could access (or possibly hack into) video footage from inside your house.

“Barking” Alarm Systems Still Work, Too

Before high-tech security systems were invented, people relied on guard dogs. Dogs have been one of the best and oldest home alarm systems used by mankind. They still work even in this Internet age.

A dog with a keen sense of hearing will provide you with a heads up in case your property has unexpected visitors. German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers are all well-known guard dogs, but many other breeds can do the job. Breeds commonly used in hunting are also excellent because they are alert and territorial. They include beagles, Labradors, and elkhounds, for example.

Even dogs with great protective instincts still need to be trained properly in order to function as effective guard dogs. You may be able to enroll your dog in training classes locally or obtain a dog that has already been trained.

Many experienced preppers recommend keeping your dogs outside, especially if your property is fenced in. If it is not, Invisible Fencing can be purchased and installed throughout your property’s erimeter. Just provide a well-constructed kennel to keep your loyal canine guardian comfortable and out of the elements, and you’ll have an around-the-clock security guard for your home.