You don’t have to hire the security forces of Fort Knox in order to decrease the likelihood of falling victim to burglary or home invasion. Fair Haven, a retirement community in Birmingham, AL, recently hosted a Senior Safety seminar which included education on securing your home by Jessica Clark Burton, the Police Community Relations Assistant with the East Precinct of the Birmingham Police Department. Jessica shared some simple steps that older adults, especially those who live alone, can take to make their home less attractive and less accessible to criminals:

#1 – Close your blinds. Leaving your blinds open, especially at night, gives criminals a tempting preview of the valuables you have available for them to take. Plus, open blinds give criminals a front row seat into your routines so they can discover when you are likely to be out of the house.

#2 – Don’t keep a spare key hidden outside your home. Criminals know that many people hide a key outside their homes, and they also know how to spot the hiding places. Paying for a locksmith’s rescue is much cheaper than replacing your valuables taken during a burglary. Consider leaving a spare key with a trusted neighbor. Or, if you must hide a key, put the key inside a combination lockbox and hide the lockbox.

#3 – Lock your doors and windows. We don’t live in Mayberry anymore. You should keep your garage door down, and lock your entry doors at all times, even when you are at home. Not only your front door, but your other outer doors as well, including that door you rarely use on the side of the garage.

#4 – Know your neighbors. In today’s busy society, fewer and fewer people really get to know their neighbors. Who lives next door and across the street? What cars do they drive? What are their usual routines? Can your neighbors answer these questions about you? Exchange emergency contact phone numbers with your neighbors. It doesn’t hurt to have extra eyes and ears watching out for you and your home.

#5 – Don’t let just anyone inside your home. If someone comes to your door asking to borrow your phone because of some emergency, leave them outside and tell them you will call the police to come help them. If a repair person that you did not call wants inside your home, have them wait outside while you call the company to verify the work. And keep in mind that criminals can be men or women.

#6 – Have a check-in plan. This is especially important if you are living alone. Whether your daughter calls every day at noon, or a neighbor picks up the newspaper on your lawn and brings it to you at your door each morning, have a plan for someone to see or hear from you on a regular basis. A check-in plan might not be a direct deterrent to criminal behavior, but you’ll ensure a limit to the amount of time that will elapse before help arrives should something happen.

The Birmingham Police Department offers crime prevention services to citizens in Birmingham, such as a home security audit, vacation patrols, and anonymous crime reporting. For more information on these services and more, contact Jessica Clark Burton at (205) 254-2684, or visit their Nextdoor page.

Fair Haven is a continuum of care community in Birmingham, Alabama, offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, short-term rehabilitation, long-term nursing care and Alzheimer’s/dementia care for older adults. To schedule a tour, call the Fair Haven marketing team at 205-956-4150.

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