All Posts by Avery

1 DIY Guide: 101 Ways to Protect Your Home

From burglars to fires to stampeding buffaloes, you never know what kind of situations your home may have to deal with. That’s why it’s so important to prepare in advance, especially since doing so can save a lot of money and headache in the long run. While many people think that there’s a handful of things they can do to ensure their home is protected, the reality is that there are dozens and more. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide to protecting your home on a budget.

1. Stay in touch with your neighbors.

Many people are too shy to call the police when they see suspicious activity. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye out on your property, and they can prove to be the best alarm system there is.  

2. Scout the perimeter and find weaknesses.

No one knows your property better than you do. Take some time to scope it out from the outside and you’ll likely find a few ways to make it easier to protect. 

3. Keep the plants and shrubs located around your doors trimmed.

They can often provide cover while a thief works on getting through your door. Plus, shrubs generally look nicer when they’re trimmed!

4. Plant thorny plants by your windows.

Windows are a popular way to get into people’s homes, but no robber wants to sit in a thorny, painful bush.

 5. Put up a fence around your property.

This decreases visibility and makes it more difficult to access your property. It also lets your dog roam outside, if you have one.

6. Don’t leave expensive items outside.

This includes bikes, grills, and yes, even cars. Your garage is the perfect place to put things away, and that way crooks won’t be enticed by your possessions.

7. Keep your cats away from windows when you’re out of town.

Burglars know that your cat is by the window because it has nothing else to do and is waiting on you. Try putting plants or other objects on your windowsill instead. 

8. Don’t assume your small dog will offer any security.

Most seasoned robbers won’t be deterred by a small dog. In fact, there’s a good chance it will get stolen as well since they often fetch a good price.

9. Do assume a big dog is better for home security.

Simply put, the look more intimidating. A Rottweiler or pit bull can stop crooks before they even step onto your property.

10. Make sure your door and frame are made out of the same material.

If one is metal and the other is made of wood, it makes it easier for robbers to kick the door in. However, using the same material for both makes the door stronger.

11. Don’t forget to close your windows.

Sure, sounds simple, but there can be a lot of windows in a house. Some robbers will not feel comfortable with smashing one open.

12. Double-check the bathroom window.

It is often the most likely to be open because homeowners like to leave this one open in order to air out the bathroom. Robbers know this. 

13. Keep an eye on the cable guy.

Some crooks work with cable technicians and other workers that visit people’s homes to get insider information, like access codes and what kind of valuable can be found in the residence.

14. Change your access codes regularly.

If you give out an access code for your garage or back door, make sure to change it up regularly. This is especially helpful for those who have had laborers visit their home, or for Airbnb renters.

15. Install deadbolts on your doors.

The deadbolt is tougher to break or pick than other locks. This is especially true for a deadbolt that needs to be opened with a key from both sides.

16. Use a Simlock on your deadbolt.

A Simlock attaches to one side of your deadbolt, rendering it nearly un-pickable. It prevents the deadbolt knob from turning, which means even a locksmith can’t pick the lock. 

17. Reinforce your door’s strike plate.

The strike plate is the metal plate that is attached to your door jamb, which the deadbolt slides into. Check that the screws reinforcing the strike plate are 3 inches long, which will make it much sturdier.

18. Add a track lock to your patio door.

The patio door is usually easier to pick. By adding an additional foot lock, which fastens to the bottom of the door and bolts into a grommet in the door track, you can make it much more secure.

19. Make a homemade security bar for your patio door.

Simply take a length of wood, cut it down to size, and make sure it fits snugly in your patio door’s track so that it can’t slide open. This is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your door secure.

20. Install cheap, noisy door and window alarms.

Usually battery powered, these alarms simply give off a loud noise when a door or window opens and the alarm unit’s magnetic strip breaks contact with the frame. They are widely available at home stores.

21. Use curtains.

This will help hide your valuables from any crooks that may be trying to look into your residence. A robber’s job is easier If they know what’s inside.

22. Don’t forget about basement and garage windows.

You can install curtains on these too. Garages and basements are often stocked with valuables.

23. Don’t leave tools or ladders outside.

Tools can be used to break into your own home, and the ladder can make it easier to access the upper floors.

24. Talk to your neighborhood association or local representative about improving lighting on your street.

A well-lit street can scare off burglars, who prefer to work in the shadows. 

25. Consider forming a neighborhood watch.

Watchful neighbors are an excellent deterrent to robbers. And when an entire neighborhood is organized and knows what to watch out for, it can really improve the safety of the area.

26. Trim tree branches that can reach your second-story windows.

Though it’s riskier than a ladder, a tree branch can still provide a bold thief with a way into your home.

27. Keep fences and gates locked.

It can be easy to forget about these, but locking these can present another hurdle for crooks. 

28. Don’t leave a spare key in and obvious place.

Many people leave a spare key under the doormat or on the door frame. These are obvious places. Get more creative about your hiding spot.

29. Use a spare key lockbox.

Even better than a hiding spot, an exterior lock box will keep your spare key secure.

30. Better yet, leave your spare key with a neighbor.

A key lock box is tough to break into, but it’s possible.

31. Put large, reflective numbers on your mailbox and house.

This will make it easier for the police to find your house should you or a neighbor call them about a possible disturbance or robbery.

 32. Make sure your window locks are strong.

Especially on older windows, some locks can be jiggly and flimsy. 

33. Secure your car.

Preferably, you should keep your car secure inside your garage. If that’s not an option, make sure all the doors are locked and the windows are rolled up. Crooks can take valuables from your car or use the tools in your trunk.

34. Don’t keep spare keys in your wallet.

If you lose it, a robber gets the keys to your home and also the address from your personal ID.

35. Change the locks when moving into a new residence.

You never know who else has keys to your home, unless you’ve installed the locks yourself.

36. Add privacy films to exterior-door windows.

Some doors have glass that makes it easy for robbers to take a peek through. Privacy film will make windows blurry and stop robbers them from scoping out your residence.

37. Install metal bars on windows.

This may be an extreme step for some, but it adds a lot of security, especially for basement and garden-apartment windows. 

38. Install motion-sensor lights.

These can deter anyone from snooping around your residence at night, especially if you’re not home.

39. Consider installing exterior flood lights.

These are more powerful than standard bulbs and will add more lighting to the exterior of your home.

40. Have a neighbor collect your mail.

When on vacation or gone for business, a stuffed mailbox is a dead giveaway that no one is home.

41. Schedule regular lawn maintenance.

Another way crooks know you’re away on a trip is if your yard looks unkempt. A neighbor or landscaping company can keep your property looking sharp.

42. Install a safe.

This is likely the safest place to put your valuables. Safes can be installed in several ways, including by being bolted to the ground or by pouring concrete around it.

43. Install a peephole.

It’s a great way to see who is on the other side of your door. You won’t have to open your door to any strangers.

44. Consider buying a security mailbox.

With online theft more common than ever, a security mailbox is a great way to protect the checks, credit cards, and other sensitive information that arrives through the mail.

45. Use a key chain garage opener.

Thieves can get into your garage or home if they get access to the garage opener inside your car. A garage opener attached to your keys minimizes the risk.

46. Padlock your garage door.

Many garage-door locks are flimsy, so putting a padlock on the track of your garage door is a great way to beef up security from the inside. If there’s no hole on the track, you can also drill one in.

47. Install a door reinforcement kit.

–Many burglars won’t pick a lock, they’ll just simply kick the door in. A reinforcement kit adds a steel plate that wraps around your door, making sure the locks and door are sturdier. 

48. Get creative with your hiding spots.

Thieves don’t have all day to look through your house, and a creative hiding spot can save your valuables from being stolen. Try hiding them inside your vacuum cleaner, or inside an old jar or food container in your refrigerator.

49. Put timers on lights.

This is especially helpful if you’ll be getting home late or if you’re on vacation. Lights can confuse robbers, making them think someone is home.

50. Leave the radio on.

Another simple way to confuse robber when you won’t be home for a while. They might think that someone is home.

51. If you have an answering machine, don’t advertise your vacation.

If thieves somehow get your phone number, they can find out if you’re out of town or not.

52. Secure air conditioners.

In-window air conditioners can be easily taken out unless they’re bolted down. 

53. Make sure your pet door can be locked.

If you have a big enough dog, someone can slip through your pet door. Make sure you have one that can be locked when you’re not around.

54. Avoid doors with a lot of glass.

Glass doors can be broken, and so can small windows on doors. Robbers can reach through and access the doorknob.

55. Don’t advertise expensive items in your trash.

A big box for a flat screen TV is a dead giveaway that you have expensive items inside. Fold or cut up the box and then dispose of it.

56. Use home-alarm stickers.

For most robbers, it’s not worth it breaking into a home with an alarm, even if you haven’t installed one yet. (They don’t know that.)

57. Get a “Beware of Dog” sign

Even if you don’t have a dog, it can make a thief think twice about coming on your property.

58. Keep up with the Joneses.

Find out what kind of security measures your neighbors are using. You don’t want your house to be the easiest one on the block to rob.

59. Install inexpensive window break alarms.

These battery-powered gadgets are especially useful when paired with magnetic-strip alarms that sound off when windows are opened.

60. Use a door brace.

You’ll need to be home to use this one, but it’s one of the best ways to secure your door. It’s a bar that secures your doorknob against the floor, making the door difficult to kick in.

61. Get insurance.

Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Even renters can get insurance just in case your possessions get stolen. 

62. Consider installing multiple locks.

A door with three locks looks more intimidating than one with a single lock. It takes longer to pick and it’s harder to kick in.

63. Don’t skimp on door locks.

The difference between a cheap lock and a quality one can be just a few bucks, but it can save you a ton of money in the long run.

64. Have a friend try to “break” into your home.

They can often spot a weak spot that homeowners can’t.

65. Secure your home even if you’re not leaving for long.

A trip to the grocery store can leave plenty of time for a seasoned thief to break into your home.

66. Check if your local police department offers inspections.

Some local departments are more than happy to look over your property. As an added bonus, you’ll meet the local police. 

67. Consider upgrading your doors.

Steel doors and door frames are stronger than wood.

68. Pay attention to local police alerts.

If there have been recent break-ins in the neighborhood, you should be on high alert and keep your eyes open.

69. Use a paper shredder.

Sensitive information that you throw out in your garbage can be more valuable than anything you have in your home. Shred all important mail and documents before throwing them out.

70. Don’t leave your portable GPS unit in your car.

Many GPS units are programmed to show where home is. If your car ever gets stolen at the airport or hotel parking lot, it can show the robber exactly where your unattended house is.

71. Hire a house sitter.

It’s fairly obvious but very effective. When you’re away, a house sitter can take out your trash, collect your mail, and make sure the house looks lived-in.

72. Make sure you have lights all around your house.

Flood lights and motion-sensor lights are great, but if you leave one side of the house unlit, burglars will just stick to that side.

73. Make sure your outdoor shed is secure.

Just like a garage, a shed can have many tools that aid in break-ins. Even if the shed is locked, make sure it’s structurally strong enough so it can’t easily be accessed.

74. Destroy old computers before throwing them out.

Hard drives can store a treasure trove of information. A common way to destroy hard drives is to use a power drill.

75. Never leave notes on your door.

Even if you’re away on vacation, notes to neighbors or the mailman can signal that you’re away.

76. Make sure everyone in your household is educated on home security.

If you always lock the doors, but your roommate or family don’t, then your residence won’t be very secure.

77. Consider installing a safety door.

Like a beefed-up screen door, a safety door protects your front door from the outside. It’s made of sturdy materials and adds a lot of security.

78. Have your security improvements installed by a professional.

Strong locks and doors are a great idea, but if they’re installed improperly, they may prove to be ineffective. 

79. Consider purchasing a smart doorbell.

Because it’s connected to the Internet, it can send an alert and even an image of the person ringing to your smartphone.

80. Don’t forget about the linking door.

This is the door that connects your garage to your home. Even if burglars get in your garage, if the linking door is sturdy, they may just leave.

81. Secure your Wi-Fi network.

As cyber criminals become more common, your sensitive information becomes more likely to get stolen through the Internet.

82. Install a professional home-security system.

It’ll cost a pretty penny, but it’s one of the best ways to secure your home and belongings.

83. Keep a record of your valuables.

If you have insurance, and you do get burglarized, it’ll help replace your belongings. Store it in a secure location, like a safe.

84. Install a surveillance system.

This option is on the pricier side, but it can definitely give piece of mind. Additionally, modern systems are Internet connected, allowing you to check cameras from your phone while you’re away. 

85. Get fake cameras.

Can’t afford an entire surveillance system? Fake cameras are relatively cheap and look just like the real thing.

86. Turn your phone ringer down.

When you’re not home, and the burglar somehow has gotten a hold of your phone number, they can dial it while outside your door. If it keeps ringing off the hook, they know no one’s inside.

87. Make sure your door hinges are tamper resistant if they are located outside.

Some older doors have their hinges outside the home, rather than inside. Tamper resistant hinges require special tools to disassemble that most thieves will not carry.

88. Consider installing fence spikes.

This one is a bit extreme, but especially if you’re living in an urban area, you can install spike strips on top of your fence.

89. Install a letter cage.

Have a letter slot in your door? Some burglars like to use a long stick or similar device to fish your nearby keys off a table and through the letter slit. A cage on the inside of your door not only collects mail but prevents this.

90. Avoid stashing valuables in your bedroom.

It’s the most common place that burglars look for cash and jewelry.

91. Consider stashing some valuables in your attic.

While not it’s not as safe as a safe, hiding valuables in the attic is much safer than a bedroom. Generally, burglars don’t want to go into the attic because if someone comes home, they’d be trapped.

92. Store extra suitcases and bags in the attic.

Burglars often use these to haul away your belongings. If you leave them up in the loft, they may end up taking fewer items.

93. Always shut your front gate.

This won’t stop every burglar, but it is a psychological barrier. Burglars look for low-hanging fruit and prefer a property with an open gate.

94. Don’t assume lightning only strikes once.

If your home has been broken into, then someone knows its weak points and may do it again. Prepare for the worst.

95. Invest in motion-sensor security devices.

Don’t have pets? Devices such as the Nest Cam will track any motion inside your home and alert your phone if anything happens, complete with photos.

96. Make sure you have working smoke alarms.

Not all threats to your home come from the outside. Fires and electrical problems can happen when you least expect them.

97. Add a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and can occur without smoke.

98. Use surge protectors.

They protect your valuable appliances and decrease the chances of an electrical fire. 

99. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher.

Or two. Fires are usually unexpected and you have to react fast to put them out.

100. Use a fireplace screen.

Have a fireplace? A fireplace screen can keep popping wood bits from shooting out of the fireplace, and kids’ hands away from the fire.

101. Consider installing a fire-sprinkler system.

Though expensive, it’s a very effective way to fight fires at home.

Guide for Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft and the American Citizen

We live in an age where our data is constantly being programmed into various sites for purchases, social media, blogs, and so on. This personal – and sensitive – information is stored “safely” in sites and servers with the assumption that each is secure – but in reality, there are many out there who have access to it.

According to the Bureau of Justice in 2014 about 7% of persons age 16 or older were victims of identity theft. At the time, the population was approximately 318.9 million, meaning that roughly 22.323 million were suffered from identity theft. While not as common as other crimes, it’s still pretty prevalent and it can (and has) wreak havoc in anyone’s life.

Identity theft can be a huge inconvenience, and even temporarily ruin the life of the affected due to a lack of cash, credit, and government information. Fortunately, there are several ways to help fight the theft should it occur, but the best protection is prevention.

This guide was designed to help others avoid identity theft: what to look for, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens to you.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is fairly straightforward and self-explanatory: it occurs when one’s private and personal information, like their name, social security number and credit card numbers, are stolen and used by someone else. The Federal Bureau of Justice defines it as, “The unauthorized use or attempted use of existing accounts, or the unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information, to open a new account or for other fraudulent purposes.” It can very quickly and easily destroy one’s credit score, which affects opportunities for healthcare, insurance, and obtaining utilities like gas and electric. 

Identity theft is a serious crime but often goes unpunished as it can be very difficult to pinpoint the location and identity of the person using the alternate, stolen identity. Because regaining a stolen identity is extremely tedious, the best defense is a good offense. There are several different types of identity theft including Medical, Child, Social, Senior, and Tax​.

Tips for Keeping Personal Information Secure

Closely Monitor All Accounts

The first and most important step to avoid identity theft is making sure your sensitive information is protected. This includes monitoring all personal accounts, even (and especially) social media. Knowing exactly what information is posted publicly can make or break your data safety. Checking your bank accounts regularly, even daily, is the absolute best way to catch identity theft before it becomes consuming.

  • Choose tricky passwords. Don’t choose easily guessable information like the name of a pet or your mother’s maiden name, i.e., stuff accessible on a Facebook profile.
  • Be careful about revealing your location. Posting photos will often pinpoint you to a certain location. If you don’t want this know, be mindful of whether the app has access to your GPS.
  • Take caution in using webcams. Devices like webcams may be hacked by criminals and voyeurs who may monitor you at will without your knowledge.​
  • Update your software and operating system(s). Using the latest versions of the OS and apps you use reduces the likelihood of thieves accessing your private information.​
  • Avoid posting anything that could be used to gain access to personal and sensitive information regarding credit.​

Check Your Credit Score

Monitoring your credit score will make any abnormalities obvious, which can then be reported to authorities and properly disputed as fraudulent. Each of these three major credit agencies will provide one free credit report annually, and – if staggered – offers a look into possible credit disruptions every four months. What’s more, banks now offer complimentary credit reports depending on the terms of the account(s) you hold with them.

Personal Document Review

Thoroughly reviewing personal documents (credit reports and tax files) and keeping them in a secure place like a safe or locking filing cabinet ensures that you understand exactly what each document contains while also preventing them from possible theft or manipulation. This makes it extremely difficult for identity thieves to forge or change paperwork.

Avoid Carrying Sensitive Information

This key point is commonly ignored or forgotten, which only reinforces why it is so important to adhere to. Carrying personal information like a social security card is dangerous for identity theft. If a wallet with something like a social security card is stolen – stealing an identity becomes extremely easy. It’s also important to be aware of “shoulder surfers” – those who hover while you’re using an ATM or relay eavesdropped credit card information when you’re on a phone call.

Do Not Fall for Email Scams

Emails that are automatically sent to spam may contain seemingly- legitimate offers or services, and might even appear to be from your bank. However, legit banks and businesses know that it’s of absolute importance that credit card information is never sent out or requested via email. Many online shops steal information via email so be sure to research the validity before entering sensitive information.

Red Flags and How to Spot Them

Fortunately, there are many ways to discern whether or not identity theft is taking place:

  • ​One of the most obvious warnings is money disappearing from an account without explanation. Unfortunately, the explanation is almost always identity theft.
  • Another warning sign is never receiving bills. Identity thieves will often change the address on bank accounts and the like so that bills aren’t received by their rightful owner. This makes it possible for the thief to continue stealing for a longer period of time.
  • Stores not accepting your checks. This is a telltale sign of suspicious activity in your bank account and may point to identity theft.
  • Receiving notice of a data breach with a bank or online service that you use. Hackers target large databases of information and regularly invade the data servers of major corporations in order to access and exploit the personal information of users.
  • Calls from debt collectors informing you of suspicious charges that weren’t made by you.
  • Insurance or healthcare refusing to provide treatment due to the balance, or because of a medical condition not previously documented is usually a telltale sign of someone using stolen insurance coverage.
  • In some cases, the IRS may send a notification that multiple tax returns have been filed under a single name. This means that an identity thief has gathered enough information to create an entirely different life from you, and this can be very difficult to resolve.

After all possible steps have been taken to regain identity, there’s little else to do but wait and fill out the remaining paperwork necessary for confirming the true identity. Regrettably, identity thieves are not always caught, and while both credit and identity may be restored to an individual through the federal process, the criminal will often move on to their next victim.

Returning to life per usual after identity theft can be difficult, as federal disputes and actually charging the criminal can be a tedious and extraordinarily time-consuming process. While identity theft can be stopped before it starts via careful monitoring and proper precaution, there are millions of cases every year of severe identity theft, and the hardship it causes those affected. Because the impact of identity theft can be so significant, it’s important that all measures are taken to protect an identity before it is stolen.

Identity Theft Statistics

  • According to the Insurance Information Institute: $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier.
  • In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.
  • Of the types of identity theft committed, 49.2% is made of government documents and benefits fraud, while only 15.8% is contributed through credit cards.​
  • In 2015, the top five states by percentage of identity theft victims are 1. California (14.53%) 2. Florida (8.47%) 3. Texas (7.67%) 4. New York (6.30%) 5. Illinois (3.51%)
  • Cyber breaches hit a new high in 2016, at 1093, the majority of which affected hit the business sector, with 494 breaches (45.2% of total breaches). Healthcare organizations suffered 377 breaches (34.5%)
  • As of July 25th, there have been 858 breaches in 2017, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, exposing 16.4 million records.
  • According to the Identity Theft Resource Center ITRC’s 2015 Breach Report, there were more than 165 million SSN’s exposed, more than 10 times the number compromised in 2014.​

This rise is astounding, but should only be intimidating to those that do not have secure backup plans and understand the process of identity theft. The absolute best way to stay protected, even through SSN using leading to identity theft, is to maintain knowledge of how to react and what actions are best for each specific identity theft situation.

Stolen Identity Checklist

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1 Guide to Senior Safety at Home

This resource guide will review the steps that can be taken to create a safe living area for seniors, discuss how technology can assist, and how to gauge the warning signs that indicate an entirely different approach may be necessary. It concludes with a list of resources for additional information on senior safety.

Senior Population on the Rise

• The world’s senior population is projected to double from the current total of 617 million to more than 1.5 billion by the year 2050.
• The United States’ senior population is expected to rise from 48 million to 88 million.
• By the year 2050 life expectancy will increase by approximately eight years, reaching the age of 76.2.
• Also by 2050, the “super old” (those aged 80 and above) will triple from 126.5 million to 446.6 million.

What these statistics indicate is that a larger percentage of the total global population is rapidly becoming dominated by senior citizens. Unfortunately, as many people reach this stage of their lives, their mental faculties can decline, making home life much more hazardous and likely to result in injury or other types of unpleasant occurrences.

This presents a challenge to loved ones living with or who have seniors alone at home. Doing everything necessary to create a safer environment for their relative is of greater importance than before. Although no living environment can be made 100% injury-proof, there are many preventive measures that can be implemented to help keep seniors safe. However, the demands of senior safety – coupled with other factors and variables – force many loved ones to confront the possibility of having to place their relative in an assisted living environment for their own benefit.

Potential Hazards at Home

Things which were once easy to use and situations which were once easy to manage can become challenges (and even hazards) to a lot of seniors. Seniors who have lost a few degrees of mobility and flexibility cannot cope as well with objects that clutter up walkways and traffic areas. Getting out of bed in the morning can be a physical challenge, taking a shower or bath carries the risk of slippage, and loose cutlery on a countertop presents a potential injury. In fact, a lot of seniors lose balance while simply standing and suffer falls on the spot.

When mental impairment is more of an issue, a senior might become easily confused or disoriented which results in wandering off. When surroundings which were once well known and comforting become jumbled in the mind, confusing, and uninterpretable, almost any dreaded scenario could ensue.

Steps for Establishing Home Safety

For the aforementioned reasons, many relatives go to great lengths to try and make the home a safer place for their seniors in an effort to reduce or eliminate hazards to whatever extent possible.

Consider Fall-Proofing the Home

Provide rails and grab bars in the rooms they frequently use. Then make your best effort to remove clutter, secure loose rugs, install non-slip mats, and so on. Unfortunately, no home can be rendered absolutely fall-proof because it’s difficult to identify every single hazard – and some which are known can’t immediately be addressed because of cost or other obstacles. In the event that your relative does undergo a fall at home, medic alert devices (mentioned below) are a wonderful support to have because of their qualified health professionals who effectively monitor these situations.

Well-Lit Hallways and Rooms

Having well-lit hallways and rooms is also a good preventive measure, as are night lights for seniors who are active later in the day. Many seniors are subject to worsening vision and cannot see things as clearly as they once did.

Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers

Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are essential for avoiding fires and controlling them if they do break out. Smoke detectors should be tested periodically to ensure that they are still in good working order and able to alert a senior (or any) resident to the danger of an impending fire outbreak.

Avoid Spills and Burns

To avoid spills and burns, pot handles should not be left pointing outward on stoves. If possible, stoves should be avoided altogether for seniors. Microwave ovens are a safer option if the senior is still involved in meal preparation as they don’t generate heat like an oven – removing burns as a potential hazard.

Medication

Most seniors take medication, with several taking multiple doses a day. It’s important that there is a clear system for marking and dispensing medications so that a senior does not become confused about whether certain drugs have already been taken or on which days they need to be taken. A compartmentalized pill box can help with easy identification, but an automatic medication dispenser is even better, eliminating many potential medication mistakes.

Senior Home Safety Products

An entire industry has sprung up around the production of home safety products aimed towards senior citizens at home. Many of these have been developed in response to a demonstrated need and most of them are at least somewhat effective in curtailing the dangers that might occur and jeopardize the safety of home-bound elderly persons.

Locks

Cabinet locks, door guardians, and refrigerator locks can prevent access to storage areas or exits from the house to discourage wandering or exploring which might end badly.

Shower Seats and Rails

Shower seats and shower rails make it much easier and safer for a senior to take a shower or bath without falling, and non-slip mats placed in the tub contribute to staying balanced.

Anti-Scalding Devices

Anti-scalding devices can also be used to ensure that an inappropriate level of hot water does not injure the bathing elderly person.

Wall-Mounted Speakers

In the event that any kind of emergency develops in a given room where a senior is alone, wall-mounted speakers provide effective communication with others in the home and alert someone that a potentially dangerous situation has occurred.

Home Security Systems

Not to be overlooked in the parade of situational devices, a good home security system can be of critical value in establishing a safe environment. Especially in cases where a senior must be left alone for any period of time, these systems can be invaluable in discouraging or preventing entry (or even wandering). Would-be burglars aware that seniors are home alone and tempted to target them could thus be effectively kept from carrying out malicious intentions.

GPS Watches

Modern technology can help in a great way with home safety for seniors who might be bothered by bouts of disorientation and given to wandering. GPS watches can quickly locate a senior who may have left the premises and gone down the street somewhere. It is not uncommon to find disoriented seniors wandering the streets, many blocks from home.

Medic Alert Systems

As mentioned earlier, medic alert systems are one of the most popular methods of monitoring senior safety at home and ensuring that a senior is not left alone in the event of some kind of health crisis or accident which may have occurred. These systems are generally monitored by emergency medical technicians or certified operators, who understand medical conditions, and are prepared to initiate a fast response so that a crisis can be averted.

Usually a medic alert system will include a feature which allows for two-way communication, so the situation can be explained and understood, and some have a broad range of effectiveness which covers both the home and the yard, for cases where an event happens outside. Many also have GPS cellular capability, which pinpoints the position of the wearer, and some even have a fall detection feature which is activated automatically – potentially when a senior might lose consciousness or become otherwise unresponsive.

Typically, medic alert systems are used in situations when a senior spends large periods of time alone, and the devices act as a proxy for human care, which might not always be available for the senior. In other circumstances, that human care can be provided by either a loved one whom the senior resides with, by a professional live-in medical professional, or by a non-medical caretaker.

In-Home Care from Relatives

Approximately $150 billion per year is spent on home care and nursing services to provide adequate care for the elderly. While this may seem like an impressive statistic, it pales in comparison to the estimated $375 billion per year which is the value of services provided by family caregivers for free when caring for elderly relatives.

More than 29% of the entire U.S. population, or about 65 million people currently provide home care for an elderly relative and must commit at least 20 hours per week in that effort. These statistics were prepared by the National Alliance for Caregiving in conjunction with AARP just a few years ago, and it is estimated that even these fall well short of what up-to-the-minute statistics would reveal.

In any case, it should be apparent that the number of seniors requiring home caregiving is staggering, that the cost is even more overwhelming, and that the need for caregiving affects a very large percentage of American households. In-home care is by far the most preferred scenario for the administration of health care and safety among the elderly, with more than 90% of all seniors favoring the familiar and comfortable surroundings of home.

In-Home Care from Caregivers

There are, however, wide variations in the types of in-home care for seniors and these often depend on the physical and mental status of the senior. For instance, a physically disabled senior might need a physical therapist or a home health nurse on hand to satisfy personal needs. By contrast, a senior with some form of dementia might need the assistance of a non-medical professional for personal care, for home-making assistance, and for companionship.

Deciding When to Place a Senior in a Home

This can be an agonizing decision for any relative to make about their senior loved one, especially since it will almost always run counter to the senior’s own wishes. There are warning signs, however, which are good indicators that the time has come for some form of assisted living and that the elderly person would be safer in a more formalized, structured environment.

Wandering

Quite often in the later stages of dementia, seniors begin to wander more frequently, because they have become increasingly disoriented and confused about their home surroundings, and nothing seems recognizable to them anymore. This can happen just in the time it takes you to go to the kitchen for a drink of water, and as such, it represents a grave risk to the senior. At this point, constant monitoring may become necessary.

Home Safety Deficiencies

It may also be that the level of home safety needed by a disabled senior has outstripped what you are able to provide, and a safer environment would be more beneficial for them. In some cases, the cost of installing the many safety devices needed, or of making a residence completely accident-proof, simply exceeds the means of loved ones.

Increasing Aggression

At a certain stage of dementia, some seniors begin to demonstrate more overtly aggressive behavior, often threatening caregivers physically, emotionally, and possibly even in a sexual manner. This in turn, can give rise to resentment on the part of the caregiver, creating a mood of tension between them, and even downright hostility.

Sundowner Syndrome

One particular condition known as “Sundowner Syndrome” affects many elderly people with Alzheimer’s, and in this scenario, the senior often exhibits very agitated behavior that is typically triggered during the later hours of the day. This has been known to severely impact family life, and to place an undue burden on many caregivers and family members, so that the living experience for all concerned is degraded and made less safe or healthful.

Escalating Care Requirements

When it becomes clear that the degree of care needed by an elderly person exceeds your ability or a caregiver’s ability to supply that care, this may be another trigger point for considering assisted living. For instance, in situations where a senior has reached the later stages of dementia, constant care and monitoring may be necessary, and this is not often possible for loved ones to provide.

Crimes Against Seniors

Telemarketing and Phone Scams

Declining mental acuity, in some cases accompanied by the onset of dementia, makes many seniors inviting targets for the criminal-minded, who seek to exploit them for personal gain. Such predators have devised numerous telephone scams and other methods to deprive seniors of important personal information, which can then be used to access accounts and steal from them. These criminals prey on the fact that some seniors are easily confused and can be deprived of assets with relative ease.

Physical Abuse

Apart from such external criminal attempts, crimes against seniors are also committed by caretakers, who take advantage of their sometimes feeble physical abilities and/or declining mental faculties. It is not uncommon to find that some seniors have been physically abused and have become uncommunicative and unwilling to discuss certain topics. They might have undergone a decline in personal hygiene or have withdrawn from normal daily activities. All of these may be manifestations of elderly abuse, either by caretakers or disaffected relatives. Anyone observing these signs among the elderly should notify local Adult Protective Services or law enforcement agencies about the observed signs. It’s not necessary to have proof of abuse for such notification, but where abuse is suspected, it should always be investigated by the proper authorities.

Further Reading

There’s a wealth of material available online which can supplement the information included in this reference guide. If you require information which was not already discussed in the body of this overview, it may be available from one of the sources identified below.

When It’s Time to Buy a Medical Alert System

Say you have an aging loved one who needs additional help getting around the house but isn’t necessarily ready to make the move to an assisted living facility. This might be a grandparent or even a parent. They’re still able to get around on their own and live independently to a degree, but maybe they’ve fallen once or twice, and you’re concerned about their safety when they’re alone.

Understanding Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems provide that protection and peace of mind for both you and them. However, there are quite a few things to know before making your purchase. You’ll discover several different system types on the market – and they’re not all created equal. This guide breaks down your options to help you better understand what’s available on the market and how these systems work so you’re enabled to make an informed choice as to how you’ll protect your loved one.

Uses and Statistics

Medical alert systems are designed to provide additional safety for aging or infirm individuals living alone. They’re used by seniors, as well as by those with physical and/or mental health conditions that are not severe enough to warrant a supervised living arrangement, but there is still cause for concern over individual safety.

According to the National Council on Aging, up to one-fourth of Americans aged 65 and older will fall at least once per year. This equates to one senior being treated in an emergency room for a slip or fall-related accident every 11 seconds. A senior will die from a slip or fall every 19 minutes, and falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and non-fatal trauma in American seniors. Obviously, there is a significant need for improved safety, and medical alert systems provide exactly that.

A Brief History

While you’re no doubt familiar with the concept of medical alert systems, chances are that you don’t know the specifics about them or how they’ve evolved over time. Today’s systems are very different from those of yesteryear and offer advanced functionality and features. The first medical alert systems actually debuted back in the 1970s as very simple devices. A person wore a pendant with a push-button around their neck, and in an emergency, they pushed the button to summon help. The pendant communicated with a base station tied into the home’s phone line and would send a signal to the monitoring company in an emergency. Many of the systems available today retain this style, but other options have also emerged.

System Types and Features

While medical alert systems were once very basic, today’s systems offer more advanced features. There are several different types on the market, as well as additional equipment that can be used to expand the protection offered by some systems. All systems include at least one remote device designed as a pendant to be worn around the neck or as a bracelet on the wrist. Some systems offer a remote device that can be attached to a belt, as well. All systems use a base. This is attached to the home’s landline and is responsible for connecting the senior to emergency help when the button on the pendant or bracelet is pushed. 

In most systems, the base allows two-way voice communication between the fallen senior and the monitoring company. They should be tied into the home’s power system and use batteries in case of a power outage. The base should also send an automatic alert if the user is unable to speak. In addition to the ability to summon basic help via the push-button, other features available include the following:

Cellular Connectivity

This is useful for ensuring protection if the landline is down. This also allows the system to be used outside the home. For instance, it could be used when the senior is shopping or traveling. Note that cellular connectivity does require an additional charge.

GPS

This ties into a GPS chip in the pendant/bracelet, or a user’s smartphone and allows monitoring outside the home. GPS technology is also very helpful in monitoring the activities of individuals with mental health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Automatic Fall Detection

This feature is less common than others but provides an automatic notification to the monitoring company if the user falls and is unable to push the emergency help button. The monitoring company can verify the emergency with the individual, or in the case of no response, can automatically send help.

Range

This refers to the distance a user can travel from the base station and still be able to summon help with the push button on their bracelet or pendant. The minimum range is around 300 feet, but some systems can offer a range of up to 500 or 600 feet.

Mobile 911 Phone

Some systems provide a mobile 911 phone for an additional charge that will automatically call 911 in an emergency situation if the user is outside of the covered area or is traveling.

Smartphone Enabled

Some systems tie in with a user’s smartphone, allowing GPS tracking, fall detection, and 911 calling. In addition to the features above, some medical alert systems can be tied into sensors around the home which provide greater safety and protection for your loved one. For instance, some can be connected to carbon monoxide sensors or smoke detectors. Base stations can also detect temperature extremes (without a smoke detector) and send a notification to the monitoring company.

When Should You Consider a Medical Alert System?

Most medical alert systems are purchased for aging single parents or grandparents who live alone and are at risk for falling. However, some systems are purchased for aging married couples, as well as individuals with poor eyesight, or those with mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Really, these systems can benefit anyone who needs additional protection and fears that help will not be available in the case of an accident. A medical alert system may be a smart purchase for anyone who:

  • Has fallen and may fall again, particularly if there is no help nearby.
  • Is forgetful or has a dementia-related mental health condition.
  • Lives alone and needs additional protection in the case of an accident.
  • Is recovering from surgery at home and needs additional monitoring.
  • Takes medications that cause dizziness.
  • Has a disease like epilepsy or even diabetes and would benefit from additional protection.

Purchasing a Medical Alert System

You’ll find that purchasing a medical alert system might be easier said than done. Some can be found in brick-and-mortar stores, including drugstores. However, others are only available from the manufacturer and must be purchased online or by phone. Below, you’ll find website links to some of the most popular systems on the market:

Cost, Effectiveness, and Installation

The purchase of any medical alert system is dependent on several different factors. Obviously, the cost will be a significant concern, but you also need to consider the effectiveness of the specific system in question, as well as the need for installation. Cost is one of the most difficult criteria to pin down when it comes to medical alert systems, simply because it varies significantly from one system to another. There are also additional factors involved, such as whether or not the company charges a device fee or only a monthly service fee. Additional features and advanced functionality like automatic fall detection and GPS will also drive the price up.

For those on a limited budget, it might be best to consider a system that does not require a monthly fee. In this instance, the device itself might cost $300 or $400, but it’s a one-time charge. However, note that these types of systems do not come with monitoring. They are usually designed to be programmed to call one or more phone numbers when the user presses the emergency help button.

For 24-hour monitoring, you’ll pay a monthly fee. This can range from as low as $29 per month to $35 or even $40 depending on the company in question. You may also have to pay an additional monitoring fee for non-landline monitoring. For instance, Life Alert charges $50 per month for landline monitoring, but that cost rises to $60 per month if you want cellular connectivity. If you want GPS mobile functionality, the monthly monitoring fee rises to $70.

It’s also important to note that some companies only charge a monthly fee, while others will charge a device fee, as well as the monthly monitoring fee. For example, Life Alert only assesses a monthly monitoring fee. LifeStation, on the other hand, charges a monthly monitoring fee plus a device fee. However, that monthly monitoring fee is lower than Life Alert. Finally, you should understand that some companies charge additional fees, including the following:

Activation Fee

This is generally a smaller fee, but must be paid prior to the system being turned on. Many companies don’t charge an activation fee, but some do, including Life Alert and Phillips Lifeline.

Cancellation Fee

Some companies charge a fee if you decide to cancel the monitoring plan. For instance, Rescue Alert charges up to $25 depending on the plan you choose. Other companies charge you the cost of the remainder of your contract (Life Alert, for instance).

Contracts

Most companies require that you sign a contract when you purchase the system. Some are as short as 90 days, but others are as long as 36 months. Life Alert’s contract is a minimum of 36 months and is only voided if the user dies or enters an assisted living facility. LifeStation requires a 30-day minimum contract, and Medical Alert requires a 90-day minimum contract.

Effectiveness

The effectiveness of a particular medical alert system comes down to several different factors. One of those is the range of the base unit. Obviously, a system with a range of only 300 feet will be less effective than one with a range of 600 feet. However, if the user doesn’t usually go very far from the base station, that might not be a concern.

Another consideration here is user error. The single most common reason for medical alert systems to fail in providing protection is the user not wearing the pendant or bracelet. Obviously, if the pendant is on a nightstand while the user is in the shower, it cannot provide protection. Likewise, if the power goes out and the user hasn’t changed the batteries in the base station, then the system will not operate.  

Installation

Installing most systems is very simple. It requires nothing more than finding a central location in the home for the base station and then connecting it to the landline and the power (and installing batteries in case of a power outage). Most systems come with the pendant or bracelet preprogrammed to communicate with the base station, as well. However, if you purchase a system with additional peripherals, such as smoke detectors or carbon monoxide sensors, additional steps will be required. In some instances, you might require professional installation.

Further Reading

Medical alert systems can be highly beneficial, providing vital protection for seniors living on their own, and others who might be at risk for injury in an accident around the home. However, there is a great deal to know about these systems prior to making a purchase decision. You can find further information about important features and functionality, use case scenarios and more at the following sources:

1 The Safest Cities in Rhode Island, 2017

Officially known as the "State of Rhode Island, "Providence Plantations," and nicknamed "The Ocean State," Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character and historical richness. While it's not actually an island, it's the second-most densely populated state, and it was the first colony to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown. And while Rhode Islanders might get attention for their accent—a cross between Bostonian and New Yorker—there have been plenty of famous people who hailed from the state, including authors H.P. Lovecraft and Cormac McCarthy, and actor James Woods.

College education is a big deal in Rhode Island, and the state boasts several institutions of higher education, including Brown University, University of Rhode Island, Roger Williams University, Bryant University, the New England Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Naval War College. This smartypants tradition can also be seen in some of the state's pioneering decisions, including enacting the first law prohibiting slavery in North America, and being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Additionally, the state saw the country's first gaslight-illuminated street, NFL night game, woman-joined strike, nine-hole golf course, and lunch wagon. It's exactly this kind of pioneering spirit that draws people to move to Rhode Island.

30,436 avg population
2 violent crime rate per 1,000 people
14 property crime rate per 1,000 people

Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.

1.  GLOCESTER

Located adjacent to Connecticut on the western border of Rhode Island is Glocester, a troublemaker-averse town. It's the safest city in the state, experiencing just 4 violent crimes and 50 property crimes last year. And if you're thinking that it sounds mighty similar to Gloucester, Massachusetts, you're right—the town voted to change its name in 1731, making things a lot less confusing in the region. Glocester also has a long and proud history, hosting the Ancient and Horribles Parade since 1927, and being home to several spots on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Harmony Chapel and Cemetery, Glocester Town Pound, and Manton-Hunt-Farnum Farm.

9,980 Population
4 Violent Crimes
50 Property Crimes

2. SCITUATE

Rich in history while also offering access to pristine streams and unspoiled forests, Scituate is a town that also happens to be conveniently located just west of the state capital of Providence. It's also the second safest town in Rhode Island, seeing only 3 violent crimes and 84 property crimes last year. Its name is derived from the Native American word “satuit,” which means “cold river” or “cold brook.” The name is actually quite appropriate, considering that the Scituate Reservoir is the largest body of freshwater in Rhode Island. Every Columbus Day weekend, the town draws up to 350,000 visitors for the annual Scituate Art Festival, but history buffs also stick around to check out its bounty of National Historic Places and National Sites.

10,543 Population
3 Violent Crimes
84 Property Crimes

3. PORTSMOUTH

The second-oldest municipality in Rhode Island (after Providence), Portsmouth is a town of roughly 17,377 residents and was settled all the way back in 1638. Portsmouth is known as a safe place to live, and the town experienced a mere 8 violent crimes and 7.94 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. Visitors will probably be thrown off by the fact that most of the town is located on Aquidneck Island, as well as some smaller islands such as Prudence Island, Patience Island, Hog Island, and Hope Island. Besides its islands, the town is know for being the headquarters of US Sailing (the National Governing Body of Sailing), and the site of the Battle of Rhode Island (1778).

17,377 Population
8 Violent Crimes
138 Property Crimes

4. BURRILLVILLE

Located directly north of Glocester, and bordering both Connecticut and Massachusetts, lies this town of about 16,318 people. It's one of the safest towns in the state, seeing just 16 violent crimes and 7.54 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. It was originally named after United States senator James Burrill, Jr. and settled sometime around 1662, when Europeans came onto the lands of the Nipmuc.

16,318 Population
16 Violent Crimes
123 Property Crimes

5. BRISTOL

Found on a peninsula in Mt. Hope Bay, Bristol was named after Bristol, England. Its major industries include boat building and manufacturing, and it's also one of the safest towns in the state, seeing 13 violent crimes 8.83 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. Many people recognize Bristol for being home to Roger Williams University, as well as the boat company Herreshoff, which built five America's Cup winners between 1893 and 1920. However, probably its biggest claim to fame is its Fourth of July parade, which is the oldest continuously celebrated Independence Day festivities in the United States. And if parades aren't your thing, Bristol offers plenty of notable spots and locations on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Herreshoff Marine Museum, Coggeshall Farm Museum, the America's Cup Hall of Fame, and the Bristol Ferry Lighthouse.

22,194 Population
13 Violent Crimes
196 Property Crimes

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The Top 30 Safest Cities in Rhode Island, 2017

1. Glocester

11. Cumberland

21. Johnston

2. Scituate

12. North Kingstown

22. Coventry

3. Portsmouth

13. West Greenwich

23. Middletown

4. Burrillville

14. East Greenwich

24. West Warwick

5. Bristol

15. Smithfield

25. Westerly

6. South Kingstown

16. Charlestown

26. Cranston

7. Narragansett

17. Tiverton

27. Lincoln

8. Barrington

18. North Providence

28. Warwick

9. Richmond

19. East Providence

29. Warren

10. Hopkinton

20. North Smithfield

30. Woonsocket

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in Rhode Island, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."


The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.

The Safest Cities in Pennsylvania, 2017

The second state to be admitted to the union, Pennsylvania is a place where its motto, “Virtue, Liberty and Independence,” rings true. Home to many historical sites and the country's original capital, the state boasts the fifth-largest population in the U.S.A. It is a gateway to the Midwest from the East Coast (and vice versa), and its terrain stretches from the shoreline of Lake Erie to the Appalachian Mountains that run through the middle of the state.

Ranked sixth in gross domestic product among states, Pennsylvania's two biggest business and population hubs are Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the latter of which is also the fifth-largest city in the country. Once a big coal mining hub, these days Pennsylvania has a balanced economy that would rank 18th in the world if it were its own country. Part of its success is due to the higher education in the state, which is provided by notable schools such as the University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League school), the Pennsylvania State university, Carnegie Mellon, Lehigh University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvanians are also huge sports fans, rooting for major teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins, as well as the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers. And to top it all off, Pennsylvania has some of the safest cities in the country.

19,611 avg population
2 violent crime rate per 1,000 people
17 property crime rate per 1,000 people

Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.

1.  REDSTONE TOWNSHIP

Located south of Pittsburgh, in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, lies Redstone Township. A friendly town, Redstone Township isn't the biggest metropolis around. However, it's overflowing with history, boasting several locales listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the historic Brier Hill district, visitors can see 75 structures and 18 buildings that contributed to the local coal mining community. Or, they can visit historic taverns such as the Peter Colley Tavern and Barn, the Johnson-Hatfield Tavern, and Wallace-Baily Tavern. However, perhaps Redstone Township's greatest claim to fame is being the safest town in Pennsylvania, each year experiencing just a single violent crime and seven property crimes.

5,445 Population
1 Violent Crimes
7 Property Crimes

2. SOUTH PARK TOWNSHIP

A part of the Pittsburgh metro area, South Park Township is often recognized for its famous name. However, what is should really be recognized for is its safety, since it's the second safest town in Pennsylvania. This community of 13,516 residents sees only 2 violent crimes and 35 property crimes each year, making it a great place to live. The town was originally named Snowden Township, after a prominent politician and businessman, but was eventually renamed after South Park, a county park that offers a golf course, tennis courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, and much more. Fun fact: the surrounding area is where the first shots of the Whiskey Rebellion were fired in 1794.

13,516 Population
2 Violent Crimes
35 Property Crimes

3. SOUTH HEIDELBERG TOWNSHIP

In eastern Pennsylvania, just outside Reading, you'll find this town of roughly 7,329 residents. A quiet place, South Heidelberg Township is also an exceptionally safe place to live, reporting only 3 violent crimes and 17 property crimes last year. The township is also located near several state game lands and is home to the Grand View Dairy Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On it, you'll encounter a dairy barn, ground cellar, butcher house, and other turn-back-the-clock structures.

7,329 Population
3 Violent Crimes
17 Property Crimes

4. SPRING TOWNSHIP, CENTRE COUNTY

Located in the middle of the state is an outdoor lover's paradise. It's surrounded by nature, including several state game lands, as well as Rothrock State Forest, Bald Eagle State Forest, Bald Eagle State Park, and Little Mountain. Spring Township, Centre County is also very safe, experiencing just a single violent crime and 23 property crimes last year. Not into trekking through nature? Check out nearby State College, which is home to Penn State University and offers plenty of entertainment for college sports fans.

7,612 Population
1 Violent Crimes
23 Property Crimes

5. UPPER PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP, DELAWARE COUNTY

Settled and formed as a township in 1683, to this day Upper Providence Township remains a safe community that experienced only 1 violent crime and 35 property crimes last year. Early in its history, water was tapped extensively to power local mills, including the Robinett Grist Mill (1687) and Malin's Grist Mill (1770). These days, residents enjoy access to Evansburg State Park and Valley Forge National Historical Park, as well as a 30-mile drive to Philadelphia. Check out the Old Rose Tree Tavern, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, and remains a local favorite.

10,379 Population
1 Violent Crimes
35 Property Crimes

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The Top 50 Safest Cities in Pennsylvania, 2017

1. Redstone Township

11. Upper Yoder Township

21. South Fayette Township

31. Newtown Township, Bucks County

41. Castle Shannon

2. South Park Township

12. Vandergrift

22. Upper St. Clair Township

32. Northern Lancaster County Regional

42. Peters Township

3. South Heidelberg Township

13. West Cocalico Township

23. Reading Township

33. Northwest Lancaster County Regional

43. WrightTownship

4. Spring Township, Centre County

14. Whitehall

24. Penn Township, Westmoreland County

34. Upper Nazareth Township

44. Kennett Township

5. Upper Providence Township, Delaware County

15. Butler Township, Schuykill County

25. Warwick Township, Bucks County

35. Old Forge

45. South Londonderry Township

6. East Marlborough Township

16. Brighton Township

26. Clarks Summit

36. East Pikeland Township

46. Baldwin Borough

7. Lower Salford Township

17. Adams Township, Butler County

27. East Fallowfield Township

37. Upper Dublin Township

47. O'Hara Township

8. Millcreek Township, Lebanon County

18. Fox Chapel

28. Turtle Creek

38. Lititz

48. Tunkhannock Township, Wyoming County

9. Buckingham Township

19. West Earl Township

29. West Lampeter Township

39. Northampton Township

49. Neshannock Township

10. Franklin Park

20. East Brandywine Township

30. Willistown Township

40. Indiana Township

50. Southwestern Reigonal

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in Pennsylvania, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."


The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.

1 A Buyer’s Guide to Home Security Cameras

The home security camera market is teeming with all kinds of options and features, which makes the process of choosing the right one a bit overwhelming. This buyer’s guide will help make the research and purchase process much easier by cutting through the manufacturer jargon and providing relevant information for the everyday consumer – regardless of technical background. Readers of this guide should feel more equipped and confident when choosing a home security camera.

A Brief History

The first home security video system was created by Marie Van Brittan Brown in 1969. She patented a system of cameras which could look through one of four peepholes and then transmit the video to a remote monitor.

As advances in technology provided smaller cameras with higher resolution, the “Nanny Cam” was introduced in 1992. It allowed parents to discreetly monitor their children and child care staff.

IP cameras (or internet protocol cameras) debuted in 1996. Instead of transmitting images to a monitor, IP cameras sent their videos to computer networks and the internet.

 .                       

What Home Security Cameras Do

The primary function of a home security camera is to capture video of what’s happening in its field of view to be watched in real-time or later. In recent years, technology has made it so security footage can be monitored online. These cameras can be placed within the interior and/or the exterior of a home. Home security cameras act as a second pair of eyes when the homeowner or other family members aren’t home. Whether it’s to check on the babysitter, children, a pet, or the overall safety of the house, they give peace of mind and assurance that a residence is safe.

Security Cameras and Surveillance (CTTV) Cameras

Security cameras and surveillance cameras may be used interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two. Security cameras actively monitor a home (usually through motion detection) and then send alerts via text/email to the homeowner and/or law enforcement about suspicious or unexpected events. Surveillance cameras or closed-caption TVs (CCTVs) do not scrutinize the videos found in their field of view. They provide a passive live feed that’s recorded for later viewing or monitored by someone such as a security guard.

Home Security and Crime

The FBI reported that in 2015, there were over 1.5 million burglaries, with 71.5 percent occurring on residential properties. These crimes were expensive, costing the average victim over $2,300 or an estimated $3.6 billion in property losses.With those statistics in mind, home security cameras are a crime deterrent. When criminals scope out a home to burglarize or invade, the very presence of a security camera can discourage intruders from trying to break in. Even still, the more determined and experienced burglars can disarm or block visible security cameras, so the installation of both visible and hidden security cameras can strengthen the security of a home.

Common Types of Home Security Cameras

Generally speaking, there are two types of home security cameras: indoor and outdoorThe key difference between indoor and outdoor cameras is that outdoor cameras were created to withstand the outdoor elements of temperature fluctuations, precipitation, the wind, and dirt. Besides indoor and outdoor home security cameras, there are other ones that serve different purposes (see below). Usually, most allow for monitoring while one is outside of the home with either a mobile app or web browser.

IP Cameras

These connect to the internet via Ethernet cables or through WiFi. Video can be viewed locally on a computer or sent to a cloud-based application or database.

Wireless Cameras

Although this can be a synonymous term with IP cameras, wireless cameras can send video and audio over a radio band through a wireless receiver (analog) or digitally.

Pan-and-Tilt or Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Cameras

Unlike fixed cameras, which have a stationary lens and show the video of a fixed area, pan-and-tilt cameras show different parts of a room or place. Many come with zoom features, with optical being a more optimal choice (vs. digital zoom) since that allows for the resolution to remain the same. These types of home security cameras are ideal for large rooms or areas.

Doorbell Cameras/Video Doorbells

Fairly new to the home security market are doorbell cameras, which show who’s at the door. These cameras send video and notifications to the cloud when no one is present. Not only can video and images be sent, but audio can also be sent and received so homeowners can talk to visitors in real-time.

Dome Cameras

More often used in businesses, dome cameras are a type of surveillance mounted on the ceiling for a bird’s eye view and monitor hard-to-reach places. There are indoor and outdoor versions, as well as infrared night-vision and vandal-proof versions.

Desirable Features to Consider in Home Security Cameras

With the countless features and options for home security cameras, there are a few general things to consider that will make having a home security camera helpful and not burdensome.

Resolution

The current standard video resolution is 1080p, and although 4K resolution is a newer innovation that can be found in televisions, it has not yet crossed over into the home security video market. A higher megapixel count will improve the digital zoom of a home security camera. Although optical zoom has better picture quality, it isn’t as common as digital zoom.

Field of View

Not only does the video quality matter, but so does how wide a home security camera can see, or the field of view. The range of what wide-angle lenses can view is from 100 to 180 degrees. If a larger space is being monitored, a lens with a wider field of view will be needed.

Placement

Where a home security camera is placed — indoors or outdoors, small or large area — will depend on the type of camera chosen. Some cameras are more discreet than others, yet some cameras, such as outdoor surveillance cameras, might mean to be seen as a way to deter theft.

Ease of Installation and Use

How easy or difficult it is to install a home security camera depends on where the camera will be placed as well as its connectivity— whether wired or wireless. Professional installation might be a better option, depending on the camera, the number of cameras, and home security needs. One’s technical comfort level is also a factor. The mobile app or web browser interface should be considered as they can be complicated or straightforward and user-friendly. 

Connections: Internet, Bluetooth, and More

Most home security cameras are IP cameras that utilize WiFi connections. Some also add Bluetooth to aid in setup while others use networks to connect and interact with other devices. Most cameras have a mobile app for a cellphone or tablet, and/or a web portal to receive video and alerts.

Cloud-Based Video Storage

Though some home security cameras have onboard storage capabilities, such as a microSD card slot, most send video footage to a cloud-based database. Storage amounts will vary, as well as how long video can be stored.

Motion Detection

A home security camera equipped with motion detection can alert homeowners of anything suspiciously or unexpected found in its field of view.

Sound

Some home security cameras contain a microphone for sound recordings. They can also come with a speaker and act as a video intercom. This is more common with doorbell cameras or video doorbells.

Night Vision

Since criminals typically operate under the cover of darkness, having a home security camera with night vision can greatly aid in viewing events that happen in low levels of light or no light at all.

The Costs of Home Security Cameras

Home security cameras can vary widely in pricing, depending on the kind of camera, its features, and additional subscription services. Many home security cameras are a part of a package, which can come with multiple cameras as well as startup and monthly fees. Pricing can also depend on whether a homeowner chooses to install a system or a professional company. The size of the area monitored will also impact pricing. The following are general pricing guidelines and ranges. Prices are per item.

IP cameras Low-range: $30-50; Mid-range: $75-$250; High-end: $300-$1,000

CCTV kits (self-install) Low-range: $200-400; Mid-range: $500-$100; High-end: $1,000-$1,800

Separate home security components Cameras: $50-$250; Concealed cameras: $200-$400; DVRs: $250-$1,000+; Monitors: $100 to $4,500; Cables $15-$50

Security company design and installation (CCTV) Basic: $1,000 to $2000; High-end: $2,000 to $9,000.

Conclusion

Home security cameras can offer peace of mind when homeowners are away from home. They can also provide a defense against terrorist activity as shown in the video below from the FBI. With a large variety to choose from, homeowners can find a home security camera system that fits their needs and budgets.

Further Reading

The Safest Cities in Oregon, 2017

Ask someone about Oregon, and they'll probably paint you a rosy picture of cheery, shorts-wearing hikers hustling up a mountain, munching on granola, and collecting banana peels for compost. Maybe that's because compared to many Midwestern locales, Oregon's lush forests, rushing rivers, and towering mountains really do seem like another world. Oregon offers a veritable bounty of nature, but the Beaver State also offers a strong economy supported by the 27th-biggest population in the country.

The state produces 95% of the country's hazelnuts, ranks third in the number of wineries, and historically has been one of the major timber-production and logging states. Additionally, Nike is headquartered in Beaverton, while Adidas has its American headquarters in Portland. As for education, Oregon is home to several known public and private colleges and universities, including University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, and others. Between the economy, education opportunities, and access to nature, Oregon is a very appealing place to live, and the safety of its cities only adds to the draw.

26,455 avg population
2 violent crime rate per 1,000 people
38 property crime rate per 1,000 people

Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.

1.  BROOKINGS

On the shores of the Pacific Ocean, located just a stone's throw from the California border, lies Brookings. It was originally established in 1908 and named after John E. Brookings, who was president of the aptly named Brookings Lumber and Box Company. Besides stunning coastal views, Brookings also boasts the safest crime statistics in the whole state, seeing only 7 reported violent crimes and 78 property crimes last year. In addition to keeping an eye out for any shenanigans, many locals work at South Coast Lumber, which has been making Doug Fir lumber for the Socomi Brand for more than 50 years.

6,428 Population
7 Violent Crimes
78 Property Crimes

2. UMATILLA

Take the Columbia River east from Portland and you'll eventually run into Umatilla before crossing over into Washington. Named after the Umatilla Tribe, this scenic town became a hub during the gold rush of the late 1800s. These days, it's the second-safest city in the state, seeing only 17 violent crimes and 84 property crimes last year. Locals here love enjoying the outdoors, but when they're working, there's a good chance they're punching the clock at Boise Cascade (makers of wood chips), Oregon Rustic (pine furniture), or Gilroy Food (dehydrated onions).

7,026 Population
17 Violent Crimes
84 Property Crimes

3. NEWBERG-DUNDEE

Located adjacent to Dundee, Newberg can be found in the Portland metropolitan area. The city's motto is, “A Great Place to Grow!” and its flag features a red rose on a field of white, which gives it major style points. The city is also home to George Fox University, but its underrated claim to fame is its safety— Newberg experienced 0.92 violent crimes and 16.14 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. Its other claim to fame is being the home of President-to-be Herbert Hoover, who lived with his uncle and aunt while attending Pacific Academy. (The home where he lived has since been designated as the Hoover-Minthorn House museum.)

26,022 Population
24 Violent Crimes
420 Property Crimes

4. SILVERTON

Named after Silver Creek, which flows through the city from Silver Falls, the town changed its name to Silverton in 1855. It's one of the safest cities in Oregon, seeing only 0.52 violent crimes and 20.82 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. And although Silverton isn't a huge city, it does boast several notable points of interest. It's home to Silver Falls State Park, which is the largest state park in the state, as well as the Oregon Garden. The only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in the Pacific Northwest is located here, as is Norman Rockwell's The Four Freedoms mural. Those looking for a safe place to live with access to nature and historical sites should feel right at home here.

9,559 Population
5 Violent Crimes
199 Property Crimes

5. HOOD RIVER

Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Hood River is nicknamed the “Windsurfing Capital of the World.” Established in 1895, it's one of the safest cities in Oregon, last year tallying just 0.40 violent crimes and 24.09 property crimes per 1,000 people. Besides the fact that the town offers stunning views of Mt. Hood on the horizon, it has amassed many accolades from print magazines and media, being called the “coolest small town” and one of the “great riverfront towns” in the United States. Hood River is also home to Hood River Distillers, Full Sail Brewing Company, and more than a dozen wineries. So, basically, it's a great place to be.

7,556 Population
3 Violent Crimes
182 Property Crimes

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The Top 40 Safest Cities in Oregon, 2017

1. Brookings

11. Winston

21. Albany

31. North Bend

2. Umatilla

12. La Grande

22. McMinnville

32. Springfield

3. Newberg-Dundee

13. Central Point

23. Woodburn

33. Eagle Point

4. Silverton

14. Independence

24. Baker City

34. Lebanon

5. Hood River

15. Bend

25. Redmond

35. Madras

6. Keizer

16. Corvallis

26. Eugene

36. Roseburg

7. Talent

17. Hermiston

27. Milton-Freewater

37. Florence

8. Monmouth

18. Sutherlin

28. Stayton

38. Ontario

9. Pendleton

19. The Dalles

29. Salem

39. Grants Pass

10. Dallas

20. Ashland

30. Klamath Falls

40. Astoria

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in Oregon, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."


The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.

The Safest Cities in Oklahoma, 2017

Commonly referred to as “The Sooner State,” Oklahoma joined the union as the 46th state, making it one of the last to do so. The capital is Oklahoma City, and residents often go by “Okies,” so you betcha that the people around here have pride for their state. Interestingly, the name Oklahoma is originally derived from Choctaw words "okla" and "humma," which mean “red people,” and the state still has a significant Native American population. And even though the state is pretty large, coming in as the 20th biggest in the union, about two-thirds of Oklahoma's population resides in the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, its two largest cities.

The state has a lot to offer partially thanks to its healthy economy, which is a big producer of oil, natural gas, agricultural products, and biotechnology. But when residents aren't punching clocks and cashing checks, they're probably outside enjoying the state's natural bounty. After all, Oklahoma is home to 6 national parks, 50 state parks, 2 national-protected grasslands or forests, and several conservation and wildlife preserve areas. There's plenty to see here, and the fact that it has some very safe cities only adds to the draw.

33,076 avg population
4 violent crime rate per 1,000 people
30 property crime rate per 1,000 people

Safety has always been an important factor when searching for a new place to call home, but a wavering political system combined with an increase in violent crime has made safety the number one priority for many Americans. Because navigating through crime statistics can be a difficult and time-consuming process, we’ve done it for you.

1.  PIEDMONT

Located just outside Oklahoma City on the northwest side, Piedmont's residents are served by a council-management government. Local authorities are definitely earning their paychecks, because Piedmont also happens to be the safest city in the state of Oklahoma, experiencing a mere 2 violent crimes and 35 property crimes last year. It's also a place where people want to move, as evidenced by its rapid growth rate. And if you see any fleet-footed youngsters around town, don't fret—the Piedmont High School girls' track team won the state championship in 2009 and 2010. Better whip out those running shoes.

6,996 Population
2 Violent Crimes
35 Property Crimes

2. OWASSO

A suburb of Tulsa, Owasso was originally settled in Indian territory in 1881, but was eventually chartered as a city in 1972. It has since flourished with a sizable population, nearly doubling since the 200 census and today boasting over 34,814 residents. Unsurprisingly, the safety of the Owasso is a big draw, since the city saw only 1.03 violent crimes and 10.05 property crimes per 1,000 people last year. And while Owasso offers access to Tulsa and outdoors areas such as nearby Oologah Lake, Mohawk park, and the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch, locals are quick to share the fact that it was used as a filming location for The Outsiders.

34,814 Population
36 Violent Crimes
350 Property Crimes

3. VINITA

Vinita holds the distinction of being the first city in Oklahoma to have electricity, and today remains the location of the world's largest McDonald's location (by square footage). That's pretty impressive, but Vinita piles on the praise by also being one of the safest cities in the state, experiencing just 7 violent crimes and 53 property crimes last year. Because the city rests at the base of the Ozarks Highlands, residents have access to a topographical area that's a mixture of forest and prairie. Additionally, there are several National Register of Historic Places highlights in the area, including the Vinita Inn on Route 66, Randall Tire Company, Craig County Courthouse, Attucks School, and Carselowey House.

5,505 Population
7 Violent Crimes
53 Property Crimes

4. LONE GROVE

Located about midway between Dallas and Oklahoma City, Lone Grove is located in the south of Oklahoma. Most residents actually work in nearby Ardmore, but that doesn't mean Lone Grove isn't a great place set one's roots. In fact, Lone Grove is one of the safest cities in Oklahoma, last year experiencing just a single violent crime and a total of 69 property crimes. Outdoors enthusiasts can also get their nature fix at nearby parks such as Lake Murray State Park, Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

5,248 Population
1 Violent Crimes
69 Property Crimes

5. COWETA

A suburb of Tulsa, Coweta was first settled in 1840 back when it was part of the Creek Nation and Oklahoma was not yet a state. These days it's known for being a very safe town, since it saw 16 reported violent crimes and 94 property crimes last year. Fun fact: 1903 was a big year for Coweta, during which it saw the establishment of its first school, telephone line, newspaper (The Courier), as well as the arrival of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.

9,536 Population
16 Violent Crimes
94 Property Crimes

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The Top 50 Safest Cities in Oklahoma, 2017

1. Piedmont

11. Collinsville

21. Claremore

31. Clinton

41. Wagoner

2. Owasso

12. Edmond

22. Perry

32. Bartlesville

42. Grove

3. Vinita

13. Weatherford

23. Harrah

33. Sapulpa

43. Stillwater

4. Lone Grove

14. Choctaw

24. Skiatook

34. Elk City

44. Sand Springs

5. Coweta

15. Guymon

25. Glenpool

35. Cushing

45. Enid

6. Blanchard

16. Broken Arrow

26. Moore

36. Holdenville

46. Warr Acres

7. Tuttle

17. Alva

27. Newcastle

37. Altus

47. Woodward

8. Mustang

18. Yukon

28. The Village

38. Bethany

48. Chickasha

9. Bixby

19. Tecumseh

29. Sulphur

39. Guthrie

49. Midwest City

10. Blackwell

20. Noble

30. El Reno

40. Henryetta

50. Purcell

METHODOLOGY

To identify the safest cities in Oklahoma, we reviewed the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics along with our own population data and internal research. We eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI and removed cities with populations under 5,000. Note that our use of the word "cities" is versatile, refers to populations of 5,000 and over, and thus includes places with the words "town" and "township."


The remaining cities were ranked based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) per 100,000 people. These variables were then weighted, with violent crimes accounting for 70% of the total (due to their severity) and property crimes accounting for 30%. Finally, we moved the decimal point over a few spots to show rates per 1,000 people.

Burglary Statistics: The Hard Numbers

Burglary Crime Statistics and Facts

According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, property crime rates - including burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft - have seen a significant decline in the last few years:

  • ​The 2015 property crime rate was 14.4% less than the 2011 estimate and 25.7% less than the 2006 estimate.
  • The rate of property crime as a whole decreased from 13.9 victimizations per 1,000 households in 2014 to 11.2 per 1,000 in 2015 - a 19% change.
  • Burglary, specifically, dropped from 701 per 100,000 people to 542 per 100,000 people - a 22% change.
  • In comparing 2015 vs. 2016, preliminary data shows a 3.4% decrease in burglary crimes, with larger cities reporting a greater decrease at 5.9% than their nonmetropolitan counterparts at 4%.
  • Keep in mind that statistics do vary significantly by region, for example, the Northeast showed the greatest decrease at 5.9%.
  • If you want to know how where you live compares, you can find the most recent crime statistics for your area here.

While today's burglary statistics show an overall decrease in burglary rates, thousands of homes (roughly 325,000) are still being broken into every year - often in plain view, during the day. In fact, property crimes in 2015 resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion.

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There are roughly 2.5 million burglaries a year, 66% of those being home break ins. 

Police solve only 13% of reported burglary cases due to lack of a witness or physical evidence.

325,000
2.5 million

When do burglaries occur?

  • There are 1,495,790 burglaries during the day. Break ins are 6% more likely to occur during the day between 6am and 6pm while people are at work or running errands.
  • There are 1,324,090 burglaries during the night. The cover of night brings security for intruders but also means people are more likely be home.
  • Snow and cold are also a significant deterrent. The lowest amount of burglaries happen in the month of February.
  • A report from the U.S. Department of Justice showed that from 1993 to 2010, on average, burglary rates were highest in the summer, with about 9% lower rates in spring, 6% lower in fall, and 11% lower in winter.

How do they break in?

  • Burglars are most attracted to homes that do not have a home security system, but only 17% of houses have a system in place.
  • Homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
  • 95% of all home invasions require some sort of forceful entry, be that breaking a window, picking a lock, or kicking in a door.
  • The most common tools used for breaking in are pry bars, pliers, screwdrivers, and little hammers. All easily concealed and very common tools, making them harder to trace.

Who's breaking in?

A study on the habits and motivations of burglars conducted by the UNC Charlotte found:

  • Burglars are most likely to be male and under 25 years old.
  • 85% of break ins are by amateurs and done out of desperation, which some might suggest makes them more dangerous.
  • Most spend time considering factors like proximity to traffic and possible escape routes; 12% admitted to planning in advance while 41% said it was an impulsive decision.
  • 83% admitted that they specifically look to see if there's an alarm; 60% would change their mind if there was one installed.

Is anyone home?

A report on Victimization During Household Burglary found that:

  • 27.6% of the time, a person is home while the burglary occurs; 26% of those people home are harmed. That means 7.2% of burglaries result in someone being injured.
  • 65.1% of the attackers knew the victim and 27.5% were strangers.
  • 60.5% of burglaries involved no weapon; 30.1% did involve a weapon; 9.3% of victims were unsure if a weapon was involved.
  • Homes with an income of less than $7500 annually were most subject to being present while being burglarized, at 65.7 out of 1,000 homes. As you climb to higher and higher annual incomes, your chance of being present goes down.
  • You are more likely to burglarized if you rent than if you own your home.
  • It seems as though burglars are less intimidated by people being present during an attack when they are either a single female, an American Indian or Alaskan Native, or if the house is owned by anyone young, between the ages of 12-19 years old. Perhaps they feel less intimidated by groups of people.
  • What is most likely to be taken? High-value items like electronics and personal items (including stamps, collections, recreational equipment, clothing, luggage, bikes, or animals). Also, anything that is small, easily pocketed, and can return a quick turn-around at a pawn shop.

What are my protection options?

Not surprisingly, burglars will typically avoid a house if it is too difficult or risky. The following are steps you can take to prevent home intrusion:

  • Make your house less appealing by removing overgrown brush or other structures that can provide cover.
  • Get metal doors or at least solid core wood on exterior entrances. Pair with a beefy deadbolt for good measure.
  • To go the extra mile, install a heavy duty strike plate with screws that go deep into the frame.
  • Add a dowel or board into the track of sliding doors or windows. This prevents it from moving, even if it's unlocked.
  • If you’re keeping a window open, make sure it isn’t more than 4 inches wide.
  • Keep the entryway or porch locked, too. An open porch provides cover for those breaking into the main door.
  • If someone you don’t know knocks on the door be loud - make your presence known.
  • If you choose to answer the door, do so while on the phone with a friend or pretend you’re on the phone. This tells the potential burglar that someone will know if there's a break in.
  • If you’re sure a burglary is in progress, call 911 and shout loud statements like, “Honey - get the gun!” When they know you’re aware and have self-defense measures in place they are much less likely to follow through.
  • If you've just moved in, make sure you change the locks on all exterior doors to be safe.
  • Get to know your neighbors. They're your first line of defense - you watch their house, they watch yours.

What are my protection options if I'm going on vacation?

  • Stop your mail delivery or have a neighbor grab mail and packages until you return.
  • Have your neighbor park their car in your driveway so it looks like someone is home.
  • Hook timers up to your televisions and lights. The same goes for outside lights - keep them on a timer or put them on motion-activated sensors.
  • Hire a house sitter. Not only are they physically occupying your home but they can also keep up on mail and trash for you and water your plants.
  • If you have a large dog, that is a very common deterrent. However, dogs can also give away whether or not a person is home by their behavior. The bigger the dog, the less likely a thief is to attempt a break-in.
  • Even if you don’t have a dog, put a “Beware of Dog” sign up to suggest that you have a bully-breed dog that a robber should, in theory, be afraid of.
  • Just the presence of an alarm system is enough to make a potential burglar reconsider. This is why security systems offer you a sign to put in your yard to warn the thieves.
  • Leave a key and the alarm code with a trusted neighbor that is usually home when you’re not so they can help if something happens.
  • For particularly expensive or tempting items, carve your driver’s license number and state somewhere inconspicuous so police can more easily match your stolen item.
  • Create a shortlist of make, model, serial number and value of important items.
  • Taking photos of your valuables. Keep a copy at home and give a copy to a trusted friend or family member, too.
  • Check with your home insurance agent to make sure specific items are covered. You don’t want to be caught in a loophole because of a technicality.