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Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The other day one of my customers came in for a ring cleaning of the only piece of mine she had left after she had been robbed recently. Now ideally we would all have up to date appraisals and good insurance policies to cover ourselves in the event of a robbery but that never seems to be the case. So then the question of how to secure our valuables becomes even more important. This particular customer actually had a safe that they kept their valuables in but they only locked it when they went away on longer trips. But they got robbed when they were just out of the house for a little while.

Fortunately most of you will never have to deal with a robbery but there is nothing wrong with being prepared. I've had to live most of my life with this as a very real possibility so I tend to pay more attention to the topic than most of you have and I know a fair amount about it. So let's talk about security a bit.

Home security, just like it would in a store like mine, means setting up different layers of protection, that, when used together act as a deterrent for a criminal. Most criminals are looking for the easiest possible hit. Anything that puts up blocks in their way will help. All of the security is dependent, however, on proper use of it by you. If my customer had made it a habit to lock the safe every time they left the house (or kept it locked all the time and only opened it when they needed something from it) they wouldn't have had nearly as large a loss.

So when you think about security for your home, you should first take a look around outside and try to put yourself in a criminal's shoes for a little while. Is there a tree that would allow easy access to a second story window? Is there a bush that blocks the view of your cellar door? Is it easy to access a backyard where someone could break in without being seen? The harder you make it the less likelihood you'll be robbed.

For your indoors, obviously it helps to have an alarm system installed, preferably one that connects to a central station or the police station (although most city police departments don't allow this anymore). But you have to remember to use it! There are more things that you can do as well indoors. You can have a safe, although please remember that a small safe can simply be picked up and taken out. The safe either has to be so large it can't be easily moved or secured to the structure of the house. A simple gun type safe is just about useless because anyone can open one with a crowbar. Preferably you should have one with a UL rating of some sort (you can look up UL safe ratings if you want a better understanding of them).

Dogs also act as a great deterrent. Any size dog that will bark will tend to be something most criminals simply don't want to deal with. Again they don't want to face the unknown. Given two houses, one with a barking dog and one without, they will always choose the one without.

Finally, if you can't afford a safe you need to find someplace to secure your valuables that most criminals won't think to look for. Anyplace you think of that comes to mind immediately is the wrong place (and yes they all know to look in the freezer). Find someplace even you take awhile to come up with: a duct vent that can be relatively easily removed for your convenience, buried in some innocuous looking storage closet (not in your bedroom), maybe in a suitcase, or some other equally unlikely place.

There is a vast wealth of information on the Internet today about setting up security in your home and I urge you to look at it. Just remember that the criminals can look it up too!

While I am on the this topic I want to bring up one other issue that deals not only with your security in not being robbed, but your personal safety as well. I can't tell you how many (especially young) women I see walking down the street at all hours of the day and night with earphones on listening to music. THIS IS THE SINGLE MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU CAN DO IN YOUR LIFE, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT, ESPECIALLY IN A CITY, BUT ALSO AT ANYTIME. When you have no idea that someone is coming up behind you, you leave yourself at great risk to be mugged or attacked. If you can be somewhere like a subway where you are sitting down and can watch everyone around you it's fine to put those headphones on. But once you get up again and start moving around it is the worst thing you can possible do. You may think you're safe, but the criminals know you have no idea what is going on behind you until it's too late. There were recently a couple of instances of this in Cambridge, but it can happen absolutely anywhere!

I would urge you all to read my recent posting on insurance, so even if something does happen to you, you should have some coverage for it.

The earrings above are 18k gold with tourmalines.

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