An indoor environment is something that can give the illusion of safety and is easily taken for granted. Once inside of one's home or place of work, people often feel a greater sense of security than they do when outdoors. This is particularly true at night, when it is dark and difficult to see. In many cases, people understand that darkness presents an opportunity for those who are intent on committing crimes. While this concern is justifiable, it is important to recognize that crime takes place at all hours of the day, including broad daylight. Just as important is the understanding that the same criminals can and will enter homes if they are able to do so without being seen. People can take away a criminal's hopes of remaining unseen with the use of security lighting and by implementing outdoor surveillance.
One of the easiest security measures to put into effect is also one of the smartest. Outdoor security lighting eliminates the dark pockets in both residential and public locations. Dark areas are good places for criminals to hide unseen and pick a lock or break a window. Voyeurs or people casing a home or building may use the cover of darkness to hide their presence from passing cars or neighbors. Rapists and muggers also use darkness to wait for their victims and often pull them into the darkness to commit crimes against them. Well-placed lighting will effectively remove these hiding areas. When placing security lights around the home, focus on entrances and exits from the home, such as the front door, garage, and patio doors. The four corners of the house are also desirable areas for security lighting. Walk around the home and place lighting anywhere where light does not reach. To avoid high electric bills, motion-detecting lights are also an option. This type of light turns on only when there is movement and is an effective way of catching criminals off-guard. Other areas to place outdoor lighting include walkways that lead up to the front door and the driveway. When you're away from the home, avoid leaving outdoor lighting on 24 hours a day, as this alerts criminals that the house may be empty: Instead, use timers to turn the lights on and off at specified times.
Outdoor surveillance is another security measure that can remove the anonymity of potential thieves and other criminals. Placing video cameras outside of the home facing doorways or other areas of concern is one way to accomplish this. Cameras can send video images to a computer within the home so that people inside can get a real-time view of who is at the door or investigate a noise outside. Depending on the system that is used, it may also send footage to other devices such as tablets or smartphones, which is beneficial for people who want to check the safety of their home while at work or on vacation. When installing outdoor cameras, it is important that they are placed high enough to prevent tampering.
Neighborhood watches are yet another form of outdoor surveillance that people can implement. With a neighborhood watch, people within a neighborhood agree to keep a watchful eye out for suspicious people and activities around the neighborhood and the homes within it. This is constant surveillance by people who have a vested interest in the safety of the area. Residents who see suspicious activity do not approach or attempt to apprehend the suspect; rather they contact the police. Security lighting helps make this effective, as neighbors can easily see the property and any potential crimes in progress at night. To improve the effectiveness of this type of surveillance, it is important that people maintain their yards in a way that promotes security. This means removing or cutting down anything that can hinder the street view to the home or that can serve as a place to hide. Fences, tall trees, and shrubs located in front of windows are all things that can help criminals hide from the view of neighborhood surveillance, even during the daytime hours.
Home Security Tips Sheet (PDF)
Home Security Guide (PDF)