Last month my wife and I had the unfortunate surprise of having been robbed overnight. In our case, we were lucky they mostly just stayed to the garage. While the incident was really upset me at the time, I knew I only had myself to blame for failures in our home security. The evening before the robbery I had taken the kids with me to the store and after pulling the car into the garage I left the garage door open so I could unload the truck. However, with my young kids deciding to hang off my legs as I carried in the groceries I completely missed closing the garage door.
Even with a mistake like this, I know many people may think, dang you should really live in a safer neighborhood. But even being in a small gated neighborhood in a “safe” part of town, it still didn’t remove the people that will rob you simply as a crime of opportunity.
In our case the thief searched the garage and eventually got to our above-ground storm shelter. Seeing the shelter was deadbolt (see I was not a complete idiot in my pre-planning) he went into the connecting laundry room into the house, found our key rings hanging by the door (ok, so I was an idiot), and went back out and unlocked the storm shelter. Inside the shelter he took an old shotgun, some ammo, and especially frustrating our fire safe with all our original docs in it (birth certifications, passports, ect.)
What We Did RIGHT Before the Robbery
- Locked up the storm shelter deadbolt for a time of the year it was unlikely to be need so it could be used to secure the items inside.
- Kept firearms in protective case with trigger locks to keep them safe from young kids.
- Secured my ammo in a locked ammo can to keep away from kids.
- Kept important original paperwork in a fire safe.
What We Did WRONG Before the Robbery
- Left the garage door open overnight.
- Kept car keys close to garage door so they were easy to locate and take.
- Didn’t lock door between garage and house.
- Kept fire safe with important documents in an easy to locate place.
- Didn’t use a home security system.
Lessons Learned and Applied
- Created a nightly pattern for ensuring the home is secure. This means going to each exterior door and checking the locks, including doors leading out from garage.
- Get a garage door sensor alarm. There are a large variety on the market, but I like ones like this that will alert you when you have gone inside and left the garage door open for an extended period of time.
- Don’t hang car keys in the first room off the garage. I now keep my keys along with my wallet next to my bed for easy filling of pockets before leaving for work in the morning.
- We are now shopping for a gun safe to keep firearms and important paperwork in that we can keep in our bedroom or walk-in closet. If that is not an option for you at your current point in life, at least find a hiding spot for your fire safe. Odds are you won’t need to access it frequently so anything to reduce the easy of a thief grabbing it and running off with it helps.
- Obtain and use a home security system. It doesn’t need to be top of the line, but even a basic system would likely eliminate the crime of opportunity we experienced.
No one can eliminate all risks to failing victim to crimes of opportunity, but by taking a honest assessment of your home’s strengths and weaknesses you can hopefully ensure that a thief will see your home and decide to ‘try their luck at the next house’.