Books, timers, and mallets: Home security measures to keep you safe in your temporary space #Nitty Gritty#Renting#advice#apartments#safety#weapons October 29 2014 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. Find out how all these things can keep you safe. I have a job that requires a lot of travel and living in temporary spaces for several months at a time. My current temporary living situation is in a not-so-great neighborhood. I read your post on living happily in a dangerous neighborhood, and it made me wonder… Do any Homies have tips on temporarily but effectively creating the safest space possible in un-safe areas? -Tali We have a whole tag full of safety tips that you might want to peruse. But perhaps the best advice on this subject came from a comment left on this post by Offbeat Homie Stilleto. She had a fabulous breakdown on temporary home security measures… Intermatic 15 Amp Heavy Duty Grounded Timer Automatic timers on lights — and change the "on" and "off" times periodically to keep people guessing. During the day, you can leave a radio tuned to a talk station and in the room furthest from the main entrance. An intruder may assume you're home and having a conversation. Related Post Non-permanant home security system for apartment-dwellers I had one of those spooky nights last week -- one where I had too many scary thoughts and every noise was a serial killer... Read more NEVER, EVER rent an apartment that doesn't have a peephole or a window that will allow you to see who is on the front porch! Don't feel obligated to open the door to anyone you don't recognize. An old friend of my mom's works for the Los Angeles Police Department and says apartment dwellers — especially women living alone — should call the property manager if a repair person shows up unexpectedly. Some criminals gain entry by posing as a plumber, electrician, or even the police! If you can't get a top-floor apartment, try looking for one way in the back. My old apartment was in the very back of an older building, accessible by a walled-in staircase that most people did not even notice. The same day I applied for that apartment, I also looked at one situated above a detached garage behind another old building — again, with a non-obvious entrance. Pity it was too small for me, as virtually no one would have noticed I was even there. Alternately, apartments visible from the street may not attract unwanted visitors — it's too easy for someone to see them. I also had a ground-floor unit that opened onto a very busy street and no one ever bothered me there. I recommend reading Jack Maclean's "Secrets of a Superthief" if you can find a copy. Maclean was an extremely successful burglar, and while many of his tips aren't suitable for renters, he includes advice anyone can follow, such as: putting up signs that may deter an intruder make sure your valuables are insured, and keep an inventory with serial numbers on file in case of theft hide your valuables in several unusual places — that means skip the sock drawer and hide cash inside a Thermos in the kitchen, grandma's watch inside a potted plant, etc. Mail theft can happen anywhere — and those locked apartment mailboxes are NOT theft-proof by a long shot. Your neighbors, especially in an iffy area, may break in looking for checks, credit card offers, or cards with cash in them. Parcels left on a doorstep are even more vulnerable. After a vicious battle with my local post office over a letter carrier who harassed and stole from me, I stopped accepting mail at home. I switched to online bill paying, and had parcels and Netflix envelopes sent to my work address instead. (Some burglars pose as delivery people, so if you don't have anything sent to your apartment and someone turns up at your door in a FedEx uniform, you'll know he/she is up to no good!) Keep at least one item in each room that can double as a weapon in a pinch. Bathroom? Haircutting scissors. Kitchen? Knives and lots of heavy cast-iron cookware. Living room? Solid-body electric guitar. Bedroom? Croquet mallets (I don't have a garage). If you have a car parked on the street, NEVER leave valuables in it. I lived in a "good" neighborhood that was plagued by multiple car break-ins every week — the thieves were usually teens on drugs or desperate homeless people looking for stuff to hock. If you ever need to take personal safety to the next level — i.e. hiding from a stalker — read "How to Be Invisible: Protect Your Home, Your Children, Your Assets, and Your Life" by J.J. Luna and "How to Disappear" by Frank M. Ahearn. Renters, frequent travelers, and super-safe Homies, what are your best safety tips for temporary living situations? Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS Bloody beach hummus and shark fins NEXT Horrifically awesome mortician-themed bathroom Show/Hide comments [ 38 ] Thanks for these ideas and book suggestions! While we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, one can never be too cautious. Also, remember the whole renter's insurance thing. (There was a relatively recent post discussing this, too.) Reply Great tips! If you have a choice, rent from a building that LOOKS like someone lives in it. The landlord that owns the house next to ours mows the lawn 1-2 a year. There are a bunch of little saplings that grew up around the house, and phone books and newspapers sit on the front steps for months. It looks abandoned or at least vacant. It's been broken into at least twice in the past 4 years! In that time, we had someone try to break into our garage once, but there's been no evidence of anyone trying to break into the house we rent. Reply All of these are good ways to keep someone out. Should someone get it use wasp spray instead of pepper spray. Its a bit cheaper, it works from a greater distance away and its available at most hardware/home improvement stores. We have two large cans of it, one by the front entrance and one in our bedroom. Reply I know I always say this on posts like these, but please check the law on weapons in the jurisdiction where you live with regards to self-defence weapons. For the UK situation, the advice of the OP is good – being aware of where things like pans, scissors etc are is fine. Keeping wasp spray by the door with the *intent* of using it as a weapon is much more borderline (as I understand things, I'm not a lawyer though). So just please check with authorities/websites where you live. Reply On a related note, when thinking about potential household items that could be used to defend yourself consider what you'd actually be comfortable using on another human being. If someone broke into my apartment I don't know that I'd be able to stab them with scissors (you'd have to get so close! Also stabbing is kind of hard to do, lastly I don't want to kill anyone!), but I am pretty sure I'd be able to hit someone with my wok. Reply I agree! Reply Same here! I don't want to inflict irreparable damage on anyone, but a frying pan to a head would be an easy, guilt-free way to protect myself. Reply Not to rain on anybodys parade – but my husband took a hard knock to the head in high school (some boys tried to shove him into his locker) and he lost a year of his life. As in he doesn't remember that entire year. Not school, not friends, not Christmas, not his birthday…. He dropped out of high school after that. Even now, he gets concussions super easily. So not only was there immediate irreparable damage that completely changed the course of his future, but also lasting damage that still effects his daily life. I can totally understand feeling more comfortable hitting somebody with a frying pan then stabbing them. I'm right there with you. I just don't want people to think you can't inflict irreparable damage. If you hit them hard enough, you can. The brain is a sensitive and vital organ, and you're a lot more likely to do lasting damage, or even kill someone, with a head would then a stab wound… On the personal-safety level, a self-defense class can be great, just in giving you practice in not freezing in panic if something feels off to you. Keep your hands free when you're walking from place to place or at the bus stop or similar. If you wear headphones, keep the volume low enough that you're not totally oblivious to what's going on around you. Wear shoes you can run in, or kick off so you can run. You are more important than your stuff. Reply Bear in mind that what you consider "valuables" isn't necessarily what somebody breaking into cars would consider valuable. Obviously, never leave your laptop, iPad, phone or other tech devices unattended in your car, but that's not all a person could pawn. If something LOOKS like a purse, it's worth smashing your window to find out. Most will toss the contents of your glove box, looking for spare money, check books, the title to your car (which could possibly allow them to steal and sell your car person-to-person!) or rarely your social security number. I know someone who was a pageant girl who got her car broken into for a bag of what was obviously fake jewelry–but to a thief, there COULD be more expensive jewelry mixed into the bag, so it was worth taking. While they were in there, they also stole a pair of heels and popped the trunk and took a couple of her pageant dresses. Big, sparkly pageant dresses! Reply A friend's dad one had his car broken into for a few coins on the dashboard. Another friend of mine had her window smashed because it was obvious she had a satnav from the little sucker-marks on the windshield (though she had sensibly removed the satnav from the car overnight, so it wasn't in the glove box and they ended up smashing the window for no reason). Seriously, keep everything out of sight if you are parking on the street! It can be worth it to someone to smash a window for almost nothing. Reply My husband was a little bit mugged once for a can full of coins. He brought them to feed a parking meter and a man on the street grabbed a brick and asked for the can while tossing the brick gently in his hand (and looking at our windshield). Reply My brother's car was once smashed into because he kept his gas receipts in his cup holder and the thief thought it might be money. Essentially came to about a $500 window repair bill because some guy wanted to rifle through his receipts. So don't keep any sort of papers, or anything that could look even vaguely valuable visible in your car. Emergency equipment is better off stashed in your trunk where it can't be seen, or stuffed under your seats out of sight if it's something that should be closer at hand. If you park in a garage, still always make sure you lock your car and don't leave anything valuable in it, or in your garage where it can be seen from outside. Garage doors are far from secure, and even in nice areas there are often rashes of people breaking into garages and grabbing anything that they can hold (which includes bikes!). It's also best if you make a policy of waiting for your garage door to be completely closed before you drive off, to lower the chances of you accidentally leaving it open while you're gone, making anything inside thief bait. (If you can get neighbors your trust with a spare opener/house key who will go and close it for you if they notice it open while you're gone, that is definitely helpful too). Another tip, if you go out shopping or such and are planning to leave things in the trunk while you go in somewhere else, always put the things in the trunk before you drive away, so that any would-be thief observing you putting goods into the trunk doesn't then have access to that trunk while you're shopping. If you put things into the trunk then go inside without moving the car, it's still safer than being in the front of the car, but there is always a chance that there is someone who observed you put things into the trunk and will then break into your car for those things. So if you go to school but plan to leave a bag of textbooks in your car for studying after class, put that bag in the back before you leave home and not when you're parked at school. If you go shopping for a few things before work – put it in your trunk before you leave the shop's parking lot, not when you're already parked for work., and so on. The law of anything vaguely valuable applies to any sort of shopping bag, so keep them out of sight, even if they're empty. Reply RE: putting stuff in the trunk before you arrive at the location where you want it in your trunk: Good idea! This one hadn't occurred to me before, but now it seems so obvious… Reply Hmm… I always make a point of leaving my car unlocked when it's in my garage because I figure if they've already broken into my garage, they're also going to break into my car whether it's locked or not. I never leave anything in the car worth stealing. I'd rather they be able to just open the door than break a window and stick me with a repair bill. The last time the Mister's and my cars were broken into, before we had a garage, I'd locked my car and he'd left his unlocked. I had a $1,300 repair bill (they tried to pry the door open before smashing a window, so I had to replace an entire body panel), while he was only out the five bucks that he kept in his glove box. Reply Yes. Most criminals aren't too brilliant to begin with, and they're in a hurry. The burglars who broke into our home several years ago left behind thousands of dollars worth of antique jewelry, both my personal and stuff I sell online, but took a box full of cheap Avon rings because they looked like they were gold. I've had friends who've had their window smashed for less than two bucks worth of change in the cupholder, or a diaper bag that looked just a little too purse like. And someone recently stole our cheap, crappy, not-name-brand GPS from my husband's unlocked truck (dumbass) parked right in front of our house in our decently not-scary neighborhood. Reply My bf's car was stolen years ago, they had fun with it until it stopped working then left it in a side street and took ALL the presents I had given him – seat covers, stereo amp, and … the lingerie shots I'd taken for him for our anniversary… I still shudder to think who has those. Reply Yes! I am a tutor and kept my tutoring supplies in a messenger bag that looked like a laptop bag so they would be easily accessible when I went from house to house. One night at dinner, someone smashed my window and stole them. Basically the only thing of "value" they got away with was a TI-83 calculator, but it was so annoying and I had to pay to get my window repaired because the amount was less than the deductible on my car insurance. Now I keep things like that in the trunk and try to keep my back seats clear (with the occasional leftover fast food bag…) Reply A friend of mine who's a cop says a fire extinguisher is a great weapon – the foam sucks the air so its very disorienting plus it's heavy so then you can use it to hit them too. Reply I remember reading somewhere that, as a woman, something small and sharp (like the scissors mentioned above) are a poor choice as a weapon as you have to get close to use it. This makes it more likely to be used against you. Space is your friend. It is better to look at larger objects as a potential weapon as well as heavy objects you can throw–cast uron skillet, lamps, books, etc. There are also some great and inexpensive security devices you can buy off amazon for a temporary space: Add a lock: http://www.amazon.com/Rishon-Enterprises-Addalock-1-Piece/dp/B00186URTY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414602900&sr=8-1&keywords=Add+a+lock Door alarm: http://www.amazon.com/Doberman-SE-0203OR-Traveller-Defense-Alarm/dp/B000KDUCU0/ref=sr_1_sc_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1414602868&sr=8-14-spell&keywords=Doir+alarm Security bar: http://www.amazon.com/Master-Lock-265DCCSEN-Dual-Function-Security/dp/B0002YUX8I/ref=sr_1_sc_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1414602868&sr=8-11-spell&keywords=Doir+alarm Reply Great post. Something really obvious (which I don't think has been mentioned!) is getting into the habit of always double locking your front door. I read somewhere that if the front door is just pulled shut, it's really easy to break into for a burglar who knows what they are doing. Although having said that, you shouldn't double lock your front door using the key from the inside over night – in case you need to get out in a hurry and can't find the key. So I like a chain on the inside of the front door – you can open it a little to see who is outside, or you can open it fully in an emergency. But it's really hard for someone to get in from the outside. A bolt on external doors can also be a good idea. I used to work at a museum where the head of security used to talk about 'layers of security' – the more layers you have the better – like for example, keep your keys in a locked cupboard or box and keep the key to that cupboard in a separate place. It will deter a thief because they won't want to spend time hunting around. Reply We only have 1 lock on our doors, but we live in a very quiet safe area on a tiny island. We could hypothetically get burglarized but an extra lock won't do anything to stop someone breaking in as our two main doors are glass and our house has so many big windows that would be super easy to smash in. I would feel pretty safe here leaving the doors unlocked but we keep them locked always, even when we are home because my husband has OCD and would FREAK out if someone walked in and got their germy feet/shoes on our floor. I have lived in scruffy areas in cities where I always kept the doors and windows locked but I have never lived alone so I think I just got freaked out and paranoid when I was home alone occasionally… Reply We always double lock the door from the inside overnight, but we leave the keys in the lock, so if we need to get out they're right there. Reply I moved into the apartment I live in now when I was 18, almost 4 years ago. It was a pretty bad deal. Our building was, at the time, inhabited mostly by druggies and other less-than-reputable people. Our apartment was broken into at least twice, probably four times, while I was in school before the new management (cops) took over. I learned pretty quickly how to defend myself. Bug spray or kitchen cleaner can work in a pinch to ward off attackers. The hammer I used to hang up our art sits behind the table by the door in case someone I don't recognize shows up. Now that I'm pregnant and home alone for close to twelve hours a day while my husband is at work, I decided to invest in a stun gun. I have a person who is a threat to me who is currently in jail, but if he gets out and shows up, I know I can defend myself and my child with the push of a button. Sometimes the peace of mind is worth the investment. Reply I really agree with the "have something in each room that can be used as a weapon" rule. We have a bat by our front door, things like walking sticks, knives etc in all other rooms, placed so that they're out of the way but easy to grab if you have to. We also have several guns, which I realize is not an option for everyone. Also, an alarm system, if you have the ability to have one. Even something as simple as one of those motion alarms that you can buy online that goes off if a window is opened. Just the sound is a deterrent, especially if you get a local alarm company to give you window stickers and a yard sign. A burglar won't know just by the sound that you don't have a "real" monitored alarm. I set our alarm every time I leave the house, even if I'm just running to the store for milk. And, because I have a back entrance door that isn't visible from the street (and as such more likely to be a potential entry point for a burglar) I also snug a chair up under the door knob. Our alarm is such that if that back door opens while the alarm is set, it will start going off immediately. If someone kicked the door, it would be enough to break the connection and make the alarm sound. And the extra hassle/time created by having to get the chair out of the way might either be a deterrent to the burglar to keep them from going any farther, or at least make it more likely that they'll still be there when the cops come. Most burglars, I've read, want to be in and out of your house in three minutes. Anything that takes longer risks them being caught, and anything that might slow them down or make them think that the time spent getting into the house won't be worth the hassle is a deterrent. Last, I work from home so I'm around the house and able to see what is going on in the neighborhood for large parts of the day. I pay attention to who lives where, what they drive, etc. Essentially, I'm the busy-body neighbor. 🙂 I bet you have one, too. My neighborhood actually has me and several other people who work from home or who are retired. Getting to know your neighbors is a good idea anyway. Exchange numbers in case there is an emergency, watch out for each other, and if you see something weird going on in the neighborhood call the police. Neighbors looking out for one another is very valuable . Reply My biggest advice is never assume that if you live in a "nice neighborhood" you are fine. I lived in Philly, which has a very rich population and a very poor population surrounding the area. Kids that lived in the "bad areas" were pretty much fine. I lived in the "bad" part and my mom was pretty scared. I knew the people in the area and they were nice, and we would talk. The people who got in trouble were usually people who didn't actually live there and got drunk/high and walked home. When I moved more into Center City (near the Pennsylvania Hospital if you need to know) I had my apartment broken into. Nothing was stolen except a jar of pennies. We think it might of been related to the people who USE to live in the apartment. We heard stories of houses that were being broken into and people being robbed and raped in ritzy areas. Kids got mugged in touristy-areas, or areas with wealthy people but less foot traffic. Why? Because people in the poorer area knew that nicer areas would have more money or nicer things. And this is obvious but I feel like it needs to be said since I've noticed a lot of people in Philly DIDN'T do it- keep expensive things AWAY from windows and get freakin curtains! One of my favorite things to do in Philly was look into windows when walking around. Not to sound creepy, but a lot of people left curtains wide open so you could see their crazy art, and expensive tvs. In fact the only person I know who got their house broken into in a "bad area" had a really expensive and big TV visible through a window. Reply Former Philly person here. I have also noticed the open window things. WTH?? Reply I too have things located in every room in my home. There's a pocket knife hiding behind a picture frame next to my chair in the living room. Kitchen has knives, bathroom has a pocket knife in the drawer closest to the shower (as well as scissors), office has a letter opener, and my display swords (some aren't sharpened, but it's enough to make you think twice) and in the bedroom I keep my pocket knife on my night stand. And these are just MY weapons, my husband keeps similar things around the house, including a gun under the bed. If you ever came over, you'd never know it, because we keep them hidden. The last thing I want is the attack I'm defending against to get one of my weapons to fight me back with. Also I don't want to freak out guests or the maintenance people who come and go. I also have blackout curtains, a double chained door, pepper spray, cleaning chemicals & make a habit to know the layout of my apartment for movable furniture. I have some awesome picture frames, and I know exactly where the heavy ones are, the one with the sharp corners. I know I can pick up the bar stool on the right, but not the left (wobbly). I have a CUTE baby dragon holding an empty but decorated wine bottle, that I could turn both into weapons if I needed too. When we moved into the apartment, I basically decorated in a way where at any moment of time I have something in reach. I'm just paranoid that way. Also, we poised our furniture to where it's difficult to enter the apartment through windows. It's still possible, just annoying and would be loud and messy and takes more time and could possibly be a deterrent. We have black out curtains up, but we also don't put anything of value in view of our front door. If I open my door to go in (or say sign for a package, get my pizza ect.) anyone outside could look in. All they see is my worn out rocker & couch. We moved the TV to the wall along the door so people could see it unless they actually come into the apartment. Since I also have to walk to the bus stop (& on campus) at all times of day/night, I keep my keys in between my fingers when walking (my friend is buying me a safety dog – you should look them up, cute key chain for self defense, like the safety kitty, only as a dog!) and I look around. I don't care if it looks rude, I will look people in the face if they are close enough. I just want everyone to know I see them and there isn't any sneaking up on me. I SEE YOU is scary for would be criminals, so I look at everyone around me. I also keep my backpack slung over one shoulder only – so it comes off easy enough in an attack, either to swing as a weapon or to get out of quickly if they use it to grab me. Reply I haven't tried them (since I have actual dogs) but you can get "dog alarms" that play barking and growling if someone comes to the door. A lot of burglars don't want to bother dealing with a guard dog. We also have "beware of dog" signs up even though our dogs are pretty friendly and not that big (I genuinely don't know what they'd do if someone broke in, to be honest)- I figure it might make their barking seem a little more worrisome. Reply I always assumed my dogs were the sort to lick a burglar to death because they are so friendly. Then a friend decided to walk in our house wearing a "Venom" mask. The dogs were on him like white on rice, barking and growling and baring teeth. Dogs can surprise you Reply Relating to apartments with windows you can see who is outside with, I would also caution placement of those windows. I've seen so many apartments with long windows that run the height of the door, which would be so easy for a burglar to break and just unlock the door. Reply The best advice I can offer, from years of living in "scary" neighborhoods and from several months of homelessness and car-living is: Get to know the people around you. Leave your assumptions at the door and go over there with a plate of fresh cookies and say hello. I know I feel far safer living in my poor-to-working-class neighborhood, where you see people outside working on their clunker cars, than I ever felt in wealthier areas where everyone looks the other way. Reply Update to my original posting… Re: the scissors…my bathroom is tiny and has very little storage. While scissors aren't an ideal weapon, they can be used when nothing else is available. Consider larger cutting devices, too. I own a pair of specialty paper shears that have 18" handles and weigh several pounds – they would absolutely do the trick if I couldn't get to anything else in time. Offbeat Homies with gardens (for example) may want to keep that one giant pair of hedge clippers in the hallway instead of the garage. Jack Luna (author of "How to Be Invisible") suggests owning a cane for self-defense purposes in one of his other books. They are long enough to beat an attacker away if necessary (especially since canes are often made of lightweight metal), but don't scream "potential weapon" like a baseball bat does. Bonus: you can bring a cane virtually anywhere (work, errands, the bus, etc.). My great-aunt rode NYC mass transit to work and carried a knitting bag. She didn't know how to knit – she used the needles to teach a swift and painful lesson to grope-happy male riders! (Auntie was 4'10" and weighed 80 pounds soaking wet, but no one ever tried to bother her more than once.) In the post-Stitch-n-Bitch era, knitting gear no longer looks out of place anywhere. Jennifer is right – valuables should never, ever be visible from windows (or the front door, when opened). In the same way that some urban dwellers carry a "decoy wallet" (to toss if confronted by muggers), it may not be a bad idea to have a "decoy stash" just in case someone does break in. That is, leave out some cash and costume jewelry (since burglars almost always hit the bedroom first, the top of a dresser works well for this). The average burglar is inside a home for less than 10 minutes, so he may simply snatch the decoy stash, run, and not check anywhere else. Zeph – good call on "layers of security". I don't want to spill ALL of my best tricks (since I'm currently using some of them), but I do have a few things locked up in unlikely places and the keys hidden in ways that would make them VERY hard to find if anyone ever tried. Door chains are alarmingly easy to break. When I was an RA in college, we had door chains in every room, and got an surprising number of maintenance requests concerning chains that had broken or pulled out of the door frame. They might buy you a few seconds, but extra-long deadbolts (if your landlord will allow you to install them) are better. Better yet, don't answer the door in the first place unless you know (and trust) the person on the other side! If you have a motor vehicle of some sort and need to have some maintenance done, remove your vehicle's registration from the glove box (keep it on your person in case you are pulled over) and remove the car key from your key ring. When you get to the repair shop, ONLY give the mechanic your car key. If anyone thinks I'm being alarmist here…ten years ago, I took my car to the dealership to have a recalled part replaced. The mechanic working the repair desk was a little TOO interested in me, and persistently asked me where I lived (my car was registered to my dad's address, 90 miles away). I've had a great, non-creepy mechanic for a long time now, but my car is registered to an alternate address, just in case. While I am very much a believer in letting your freak flag fly, I am well aware that in some circumstances, standing out too much might attract the attention of very dangerous people. My car reveals nothing – no bumper stickers, no sassy license frames, and even my reusable shopping bags are kept out of sight in the trunk. My front porch is always kept clear (I don't even leave shoes outside, since my small shoe size says "female occupant"). I own a very small amount of jewelry, none of it flashy. I don't have social media accounts and rarely have guests, so it's unlikely that someone will scope out my home or its contents online. And if I must be in an area where I don't feel entirely safe, I wear plainer clothes in colors like gray, black, and blue (no one ever seems to notice me when I do, and who am I to argue with results?). Because I have been harassed and threatened in the past (and am determined to never have that happen again), my outward appearance is not unusual to the casual observer. I'm still the same quirky person on the inside, but my first priority is staying safe. Reply Re: the car registration. It's definitely good to keep it on your person (aka in your purse/wallet) at any time. There are thieves out there who will smash into a car, rifle through your car to find your registration or anything else that says where you live, then, knowing you aren't home right now, will go to where you live and break in to steal things there. And keeping your car's key on a separate key ring from where your house key is has more benefits than just preventing creeper mechanics from having a chance to handle your house key – it can also keep extra weight off of your car's ignition switch, a common source of problems with ignitions in cars as they get older. It also means you can leave the car keys safe stashed away somewhere when you go out of the house by other means (ie. walking, biking, transit, ride from a friend, etc.) and you aren't carrying extra things with you that can be lost, becoming itself a security hazard and expensive to replace. If you want to make a system to make sure you don't leave the house in your car without bringing your house keys (meaning you forgot to lock up), then get a simple second lock for your car, like a steering wheel bar, and put the key for that on your house key ring, meaning you need to have both sets on you for you to be able to drive away. Reply We have big barky dogs, baseball bats, hockey sticks, and pool cues scattered throughout the house. I would probably go for the toilet tank lid as a bathroom weapon. Although that would probably be a PITA to replace if it broke. Reply I have something to say about hiding valuables. I use to do this as a child with valuable coins of jewelry I knew was costly. One year when I came home from colleg my brother had switched our rooms so he had the bigger one. My father had given both of us gold coins. It has been ten years, and despite finding the certification for the coin I have not found the coin. My parents bug me about it every time I go home, and I am pretty certain it is gone forever, so I would recommend hiding things only if you are the only person living in the house, otherwise you might be setting yourself up for a rather expensive mistake. Reply "Don't feel obligated to open the door to anyone you don't recognize." THIS x ten billion!!! I live in a super friendly neighborhood and I still wouldn't. I remember in my last apartment where I lived alone I had a friendly enough sounding guy ring my buzzer so I asked who it was and he said that he just needed to get in because his daughter had just moved out and she left a few things in the apartment and he was coming to get them for her. I said this apartment? Like this suite #? And he said yes – and that was super weird because I had been there for over 6 months so no, his daughter had not just moved out. I told him that I would not let him in and that his daughter would have to call the property manager if she needed in the building, he asked a few more times but I told him to go away while I called the property manager who was in the area already and came right over and dealt with him. I still wonder what that guy was up to… was he just confused about what apartment number he was trying to get into or was he a murderer? Who knows – either way, that is not how you do things and I am so glad my property manager is so awesome because that was super sketchy. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.