Stay safe when strangers knock
More people get out and about this time of year, and it’s not unusual to see new faces visiting your neighborhood. Some might even come knocking on your door. As mentioned in our last blog, spring and summer often bring door-to-door salesmen, or potential thieves, looking for easy opportunities to gain access to your home.
Put out the welcome mat, but don’t answer the door to just anyone
It’s a good idea to have a plan for staying safe when someone uninvited rings your doorbell. Follow these security tips and be sure to share them with family members:
Speak through the door – Always look out first to see who is knocking. Also, get information before you open the door, and don’t open the door at all if you don’t have a secondary door or security barrier between you and the person. Don’t rely solely on a door chain unless you’ve beefed up its mounting with longer screws.
Don’t feel like you have to open the door at all – However, it’s a good idea to let the person know someone is home. Have a loud conversation with another family member that can be overheard. Ask the person to leave information at the door. Instruct young children to never open the door when someone visits. Only an adult should do that.
Don’t open the door to just anyone – Use a peephole, intercom, or security camera to identify who’s at your door, and ask for an ID. If the person claims to be from a company you do business with, call that company to see if it sent a representative. When your home is protected by a security system, some door-to-door scammers will target your home in order to gain access to your system or monitoring contract details. Be wary of someone claiming to represent your alarm monitoring company and asking you to sign a new contract. They might state that your company has been sold or is no longer in business.
Be alert and prepared – One of the best prevention measures is simply being aware and prepared. Don’t open the door if distracted or with no plan for if you feel uneasy and the situation takes a bad turn. Not everyone is a “bad guy,” but you never know. It’s good to have a healthy dose of suspicion. Above all else, when it comes to protecting your family and home, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to be impolite.
Never indicate you are alone or no one is home – Reference others being home but occupied with an activity (e.g., We can’t open the door right now. My husband and I are bathing our dog. Please leave a business card….). Remember that the person could be casing your place for a future break in. Never share a schedule for when you’re home or away, and always make your home appear occupied: Use home automation, interactive security, or energy management services to control lighting, appliances, sound systems, etc. Turn your telephone ringer down, so no one outside can hear repeated rings, and review your answering machine message to make sure it does not imply you are away.
Be a good and aware neighbor
Neighbors who share information and stay aware of usual and unusual activity in their area can help prevent crime. Consider a Neighborhood Watchprogram, plan a National Night Out event, and report suspicious activity to the local police or sheriff. If someone claiming to represent your security company is making the rounds and seems questionable, report that directly to your security provider.
Take these steps to stay safe when someone comes knocking and to ensure friends, family and invited guests are always welcome … but crime is not.
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