My time in the army presented me with a new way of looking at the world. I have been trained to see where risks lie and take action to minimize them. While most individuals see their homes as a place of comfort and safety, I see them as a focus of society’s unscrupulous underbelly.
I will include advice and tips on how to improve the security of your home in this article. I have chosen to break down the subject into parts based on what I see as the worst home security offences.
In the military, operational security (OPSEC) is paramount, as it should be at home. I feel like this is where a lot of families struggle and should be taken into account more carefully.
Data is circulated on a ‘need to know’ basis in the military. All of your movements and the inner workings of your home do not need to be revealed to individuals outside your household and family unit.
Luckily, there are some quick steps you can take to lock down your family’s OPSEC.
1. Nowadays, people share way too much on social media. Posting that they are out on holiday and leaving their home empty and ready for pillage is the most evident and serious offense.
Instead, wait before you return from your trip to share pictures on any social media that you are away from home.
For both the criminal element and our enemies overseas, social media is a significant source of intelligence collection.
2. Be mindful of the photographs and videos you take from the inside of your home and upload them. This involves feeds of live videos such as Zoom or Skype. What you are really doing is making it possible for would-be criminals to create a full inventory of your home’s valuables. If you need a video call, do it in such a way that a blank wall is the background.
3. On that note, do not share the costly jewelry or electronics you’ve purchased somewhere online.
4. Also, never under any circumstances post or suggest on social media that you have firearms or other guns in your home.
You should not announce the presence of guns or other weapons in your home to anyone and make sure your kids understand this as well.
5. Keep all door/alarm codes and passwords strictly confidential and only those who are supposed to know them are aware of them. This involves access to your network with Wi-Fi passwords, which can become a significant security risk, especially if you have smart home devices.
Never use your router’s default password, but instead generate a password as powerful as possible using an online password generator.
6. Make sure that your kids understand what things they should not reveal to their friends and classmates. In your family’s OPSEC, children are the weakest link, and they will have to be constantly reminded of the rules.
7. If you leave your home empty for some period of time, do whatever you can to make it look occupied.
Leave a car in the driveway, set timers for lights.
Also, make sure that you have your mail and documents collected by a friend or family member.
There is nothing that can avoid the inevitable entrance into your home of anyone with ill intentions. The best thing you can do is make your home unattractive to break into and as difficult as possible to enter.
We would have multiple layers of defense and deterrents in the army, and your home should as well.
8. Control of who has the keys to your house. We need to grant contractors access to conduct their work occasionally. Certain deadbolts can be re-keyed by the homeowner in seconds. This enables you to give a contractor a key and the deadbolt can be re-keyed to deny them access upon completion of the job.
Another alternative is a deadbolt with a keypad where you can set a code that you can revoke at any time for contractors or family members to use.
9. Get a dog and train the dog to bark every time there is a knock at the door or the doorbell rings.
My chocolate lab frightens the hell out of any delivery person who comes by. I’ve seen people on my security cameras decide not to approach the front door as they hear the barking from inside. The dog’s size is not as significant as its bark volume.
Putting a beware of dog sign out also tends to discourage would-be intruders.
Secure Your House
10. Install the best deadbolts and door locks that you can afford.
Do not use any Wi-Fi or Bluetooth compatible locks because with the correct equipment, these locks can be hacked and opened.
You might want as well to install door latches and locks, which can only be reached from inside.
This way, anyone who wishes to enter your home when you are inside will have to bash the door off the hinges effectively to gain complete entry.
This will provide you with time to leave or for law enforcement to arrive. One tactic that was always instilled in me by the military was always to have a way out.
11. To reduce any areas of shadow that intruders may use to camouflage their activities, install motion lights around your house. This is why there are floodlights on military bases that illuminate the perimeter.
12. Install surveillance cameras around your home covering every entryway. You should check the cameras when anything bumps in the night rather than exiting your house, putting yourself at risk.
13. Home alarm systems are fantastic, but you need to advertise to criminals that the alarm operates.
The sign and stickers supplied with the device by your alarm company should be clean and visible from the street.
I watched would-be criminals while I worked in private security. They avoided doors with alarm stickers, and test the locks on doors that had no alarm stickers.
Being mindful of your environment is perhaps the most important step that you can take when it comes to not only your protection, but your home’s safety.
It was very important to be detail-oriented in the military as well as to be constantly conscious of one’s surroundings. We had it constantly instilled into us to always be conscious and never fall into complacency.
14. Keep an eye on your field. Get to know who your neighbors are and the kinds of vehicles usually parking or driving around in the neighborhood. This way, you are more likely to know if a criminal element scopes out homes in the area because they would appear out of place.
15. Upon coming home, do not enter your front door blindly. You are very open to assault when you unlock the main entry door with your back turned. Before opening your door, take a look around.
16. Never open the front door to strangers. It just takes a fast kick to gain entrance as soon as the door is unlocked and a crack opens.
You can use a storm door as a shield between you and an outsider if you have it. Some surveillance cameras have two-way voice interaction that can be used to communicate to people who come knocking.
Be Really Careful About This
One technique sometimes used by offenders is to mimic a police officer, city worker, or utility company workers. We have been conditioned by society to trust people in uniforms and I can tell you from experience that wearing a uniform and walking with a sense of purpose has given me access to many places in which I was not permitted to be.
For someone wearing a high-vis vest holding a clipboard, the same is true. Always verify anybody’s credentials when they knock at your door. Ask politely to see a badge if a police officer is at your front door and then call the local detachment to confirm they are a real police officer. For city or utility employees, the same works, always call and check their credentials.
None of us should live in terror, but it would only help to keep you and your family safe and protected from possible home invasion or robbery by maintaining a healthy level of vigilance and a security attitude.
These are only a few of these tips and suggestions that come from years of training and experience as a soldier and I am sure that they will help to protect your home.