Front Door Security
When there’s a knock at your door, you probably answer it reflexively. But if you find yourself face-to-face with a stranger, you’re now in a vulnerable position. Read on to learn what you should do next.
In most cases, a stranger standing at your doorstep is no cause for alarm. They might be a worker with a local utility company, a door-to-door salesperson, or a solicitor for a charitable cause. However, these are also common covers for scam artists and burglars, so it’s important not to let your guard down.
Experienced thieves do their research before a home break-in. This might include canvassing your neighborhood for potential targets, watching your home to gage how many people live there and what your daily schedule is like. To get a closer look at your home, they might don a simple disguise—even a clipboard or a high-visibility vest and hardhat can give the illusion of authority—and approach your front door.
At this point, a thief can easily get a look around—and into—your home without attracting much suspicion. At your front door, they’ll look for video cameras, a video doorbell, or other security system. They’ll also get a good look at how secure your front door seems: What kind of door is in place? What kind of locks are installed? Are there windows in or around the door that could be broken to make it easy to reach in and unlock the door? And finally, are any valuables plainly visible through the front door or windows?
Dealing with Strangers at Your Door
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell who to trust, especially when you’re put on the spot. Get in the habit of following these three rules for all strangers who ring your doorbell:
- Always Ask for Identification. Credentials should be plainly visible on a lanyard, or they should at least have a business card available. You might also look for a well-marked vehicle nearby.
- Never Invite Them In. Any dealings you need to have with salespeople or utility workers can be done outside. Join them on the front steps or in another highly visible area.
- Trust Your Gut. If a salesperson is acting overly pushy or if something just feels off, simply shut the door. If they refuse to leave, it’s time to call the police.
Take a fresh look at your home’s entrance, and make some proactive updates to keep your family more secure.
- What’s Visible Through the Windows? Consider installing privacy film (on the inside of the glass) to thwart prying eyes.
- Know Your Local Laws. Knowing when and how salespeople are allowed to solicit in your town can help you spot lies and imposters. In Massachusetts, for example, all door-to-door salespeople must register with the local police department, and will then be given a certificate of registration (which includes their photo); this is to be “conspicuously displayed” when they come to your door.
- Safety in Numbers. A network of neighbors is one key to a safer neighborhood, so try to form relationships with your neighbors. When you’ll be on vacation, ask them to keep an eye on your house and take in your mail so that your house doesn’t look empty to potential burglars. Even if your home has no neighboring houses within the line of sight, you can still utilize online forums or groups to keep a pulse on what’s been going on in your neighborhood.
Practice Better Front Door Security
Know who’s at your door before you’ve opened it. A wide range of home security systems include this option, from simple video doorbells to more sophisticated systems with intercoms and access control. You can use these features to ask the visitor to identify themselves and display their credentials before going to the door—saving you time and keeping you safer. If something feels off, there’s no need to go to the door at all, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that video footage is being recorded.
If you do have a video doorbell or live feed of your front door, make sure everyone in your home is on the same page about how to use it. Instruct children not to open the door when the bell rings unless an adult has checked the video and given the go-ahead.