Home security during the holidays

By Bill Primavera

We’re entering the holiday season when many of us will be away from home, and it’s a good time to be aware of home security.

When I owned a historic home in Brooklyn Heights, I was always worried about safety when I was on vacation. I had tenants in the upper duplex of a four-story house and they weren’t as aware of security measures, like locking the door to our common entrance at night.

Every time we came back from vacation, we would look down from the Brooklyn Bridge where we had a split-second view of our house two blocks down and down, just to make sure it was still there.

During our six years of residence there, we had a few security scares that still give me chills today. In one case, a thief took the hinges off our back door and entered our house, visiting every room while we slept. When we woke up the next morning, my wife shared that she had dreamed that there was a man in our bedroom, watching us in his bed. Little did we know it was not a dream, but reality, when we came downstairs to find out about the scandalous breach in our privacy.

What struck me the most was that every book in our library had been searched, teaching us that hiding money in books must be a security measure for some people. Frankly, I had never thought of that.

At that time, we lived above an antique store that we operated. There was nothing scarier than standing at the top of our stairs, looking at our apartment door and seeing a kick kick through one of its lower panels. My wife had the intelligence – or the fear – to scream at the top of her lungs, which deterred the kick. He ran from our lobby and hesitated for a few moments just outside, where I could see him well through a window.

Later, when the cops arrested him at another location in the neighborhood that he was trying to rob, I was able to identify him at the police station. There was nothing more satisfying than witnessing his crime in front of a grand jury, and he was found guilty and sent on his way to do time where he couldn’t victimize others for a while.

I was really naive about protecting life and property at that time. I’m smarter about it now and I know exactly what I would do to keep my family safe. I happen to live in a condominium with 24-hour security; no one reaches me without a notice from the doorman, receptionist or security guard. No one can access the elevators without having been checked beforehand. So if you live in an apartment or condo, make sure on-site management and your closest neighbors are aware of your absence.

If you live in a single-family home, here are the essential precautions to take for your safety.

First, have a regular home security system that alerts your local police department if that system is breached. Have a front door camera system installed where you can see who is at your door, even when you are away.

While you plan to be away, make sure the logs are stopped. A collection of papers on a lawn is an open invitation for a thief.

Warn your nearest neighbors and ask them to be on the lookout for anything unusual.

Keep a car in the driveway.

If you plan to be away for two weeks or more, have your lawn mowed.

Put house lights on an automatic timer.

Ask a good friend to drop by the house every day to check on everything.

Do not announce on Facebook that you will be absent and do not send photos of you on the slopes or at the beach. Keep it all until you get back.

By adhering to these safety practices, you can be sure that you are doing everything you can to prevent an unwanted guest from entering your home while you are enjoying your vacation.

Bill Primavera is a real estate agent associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder

of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the oldest public relations agency in

Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To hire The Home Guru and their team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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