Well-placed lights can deter thieves


June 27, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie & Ron Nodine

EVERYBODY knows that burglars don't like light. Installing security lighting is the first defense against break-ins and vandalism. But do you know where the lights should be? A new book from Better Homes and Gardens called "Home Security: Your Guide to Protecting Your Family" (Meredith Books, 1999, $12.95) has the answers.

A well-lighted house has lights at entryways, at the garage door, along walks and driveways, under eaves (low wattage) and under the deck, according to the book. Here are some other tips for home security:

Keep the outside tidy. Pick up old newspapers and fliers, so crooks don't think there's nobody home. Also remove ladders, tables and lawn chairs when you're not using them, so they don't become steps to reach windows.

Cut off tree limbs that are close to the house or hang over the roof; remove all limbs closer than 7 feet to the ground to make trees unclimbable.

Trim or remove shrubs near walkways and doors, so they don't become hiding places, and cut back foliage that obscures the view to windows, especially basement windows.

Use gravel under windows and around sheds, because it creates noise underfoot.

Plant low-growing, thorny bushes, such as juniper, barberry, hawthorn or shrub roses, under windows.

You might consider trimming trees or shrubbery that block your neighbors' view of your house. It lessens privacy, but it allows you to watch out for each other.

We know, you'd just love to cultivate the garden and even-up that hedge, but the tools are hopelessly lost in a garage that resembles Watto's used-spaceship-parts shop in "Star Wars."

Well -- speaking of spaceships -- a space-age invention from this galaxy can help: fasteners from VELCRO USA Inc.

The folks who make the hook-and-loop fastener originally developed to keep objects in one place in zero gravity are offering a brochure, "Organizing Tips & Creative Storage Solutions," to help you get things shipshape.

If you're suffering from clutter, the brochure suggests, you may not need more storage space; you may just need to rethink the way you're using available space. Using walls and even ceilings can vastly increase storage.

The first hurdle on the way to neatness, however, is all the stuff that you really don't use or don't want and just haven't thrown away yet. The company's brochure suggests using large boxes to sort garden tools, sporting equipment and old clothes. Keep only what you use, and throw everything else away.

The company offers a heavy-duty system of straps and sticky-backed mounting tape that makes it a cinch to hang rakes and hoes, canoe paddles, fishing rods, hoses and cords. Other types of straps can hold bicycles or wrap around bulky comforters or towels to make them more compact.

For a copy of the brochure, write to Organizing Tips & Creative Storage Solutions from VELCRO USA Inc., Dept. OT, P.O. Box 6441, Riverton, N.J. 08077-6441.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and former president of the Remodelors Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for The Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at hw@renovator.net or Karol at karol.menzie@baltsun.com. Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

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