BCA Security Committee: Suggestions

Neighborhood Security

  • Please call the county police if you see anything that appears suspicious.  Note the license number of any suspicious vehicle(s).  If a perpetrator is casing a home or a street, they may be driving around or parking, or walking in some of our wooded areas, looking at homes and observing when people come and go.  If you sense that something is not quite right, call the police at  (301) 279-8000.  Please mention you are calling because the community has had several burglaries recently.  Err on the side of caution.  The police request and need such input. 
  • You can also help by cooperating with your neighbors to keep an eye on each other’s homes.  Walk around the neighborhood.  You can also talk to your BCA block captain; they are listed on our website at:
  • Encourage your neighbors to register on the BCA website and provide their current e-mail address, which is the only way that our neighbors can receive these e-mail alerts. (Don't worry: your e-mail addresses are not publicly available.)
  • We have the best opportunity to solve these kinds of incidents by working together and with the police.
  • Know your neighbors and exchange home and work numbers. Consider leaving a key with a neighbor.
  • Watch each others' residences, inform each other when you'll be away, and leave contact information.
  • Call your block captain and others to introduce new neighbors.
  • Walk in the neighborhood, and observe your surroundings.  It is good exercise, a way to meet your neighbors, and to help with neighborhood security. 
  • Be aware of activities on the block and throughout the neighborhood. That will help you to spot circumstances that don’t seem normal and thus may be suspicious.
  • Use your cellphone to photograph the license plates of a suspicious vehicle.  If you see a robbery in progress or learn of one later, you will have key information to provide the police.
  • Please don't interrupt officers when they are in the process of handling a call for service. Wait until they are finished if you have to know what's going on.
  • Provide police with good descriptions of suspects by focusing on pants, shoes and any unique attributes, such as hair style. Coats and hats can be quickly shed by suspects.
  • Report nonfunctioning street lights to the city. 

Personal/Home Security

Alarm Codes

  • Consider giving alarm system codes to neighbors and anyone who is supposed to be in your house (such as your cleaning service or pet sitter) while you are away. Police spend unnecessary time responding to calls from security companies which they receive because someone inadvertently set off an alarm.


  • Keep outside lights on throughout the night—front, back, and lower landings. It reduces the atmosphere for crime by providing a lot more light on the street. If everyone participates, the illumination provided by all the additional lights will really make a difference. It also helps the police identify the right house because sometimes front house numbers are hard to find at night in the dark.
  • Use timers to make your house look lived in while you're away.
  • Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places. Install exterior lighting near porches, rear, and side driveways, garage doors, and all other points of entry. Entryways to your home should always be well lighted. Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken. Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching, or install motion-sensing lights, which turn on automatically as some approaches.

Exterior Doors & Windows

  • All exterior doors should be either metal or solid wood. For added security, use strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with non-removable hidden pins.
  • Every entry door should be well lighted and have a wide-angle door viewer (peephole) so you can see who is outside without opening the door.
  • Sliding glass doors can offer easy entry into your home. To improve security on existing sliding glass doors, you can install keyed locking devices that secure the door to the frame; adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can't be pushed out of their tracks of the closed door to prevent the door from opening even if the lock is jimmied or removed.
  • Lock your windows. Use locks which allow you to lock a partially opened window.
  • Avoid placing trellises or other climbing aids near windows.
  • Use bars or ornamental grills on vulnerable locations (basement and first floor windows)

Locks & Keys

  • Keep all locks in good repair and make sure they're securely fastened.
  • Do not "hide" a key on the exterior of your house.
  • Strong, reliable locks are essential to effective home security.
  • Always keep doors and windows locked, even a five minute trip to the store is long enough for a burglar to enter your home.
  • Use chain locks, heavy bolts, or some similar secure device that can only be operated from the inside on doors without cylinder locks. Make sure none of your locks can be opened by someone breaking out glass or a panel of light wood to reach them.
  • Use quality keyed knobs as well as deadbolts, because deadbolts can withstand the twisting, turning, prying, and pounding that regular knows can't. When choosing a deadbolt, look for such features as:
    • a bolt that extends at least one inch when in the locked position, to resist ramming and kicking,
    • hardened steel inserts to prevent the bolt from being sawed off,
    • a reinforced strike plate with extra long mounting screws to anchor the lock effectively.
  • For basement doors, use locks which allow you to isolate the basement from the rest of the house.
  • Keep locks in good repair.
  • Either know for sure everyone who has a key to your house, or have the locks changed.

Vacation & When away from home

  • Indoor-lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied. If you are going to be away from your home, consider using automatic timers to switch interior lights on and off at preset times. 
  • Do not have packages delivered to your house if you are not home to receive them. Make arrangements for them to be delivered to a neighbor or pick them up at the shipper’s local office.
  • Call your local police department if you're going away on vacation—the police will watch your house.

Shrubs and Landscaping

  • Your home's walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the main entrance and away from private areas. The landscaping should provide maximum visibility to and from your house. Trim shrubbery that could conceal criminal activity near doors and windows.
  • Trim bushes to avoid hiding places. Cut back and prune shrubs which provide hiding places for robbers and thieves, and install lights where possible.
  • Provide light on areas of dense shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding places.
  • Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows.
  • Keep yard fencing low enough too avoid giving criminals places to hide.


  • When your house is on fire, or you've called for the police, having your house number at both the front and rear of your property improves police and fire response in an emergency.


  • Keep cash and other valuables in the bank.  Some banks will give you a free safety deposit box if you have a certain amount in combined deposits.
  • Make a list of the serial numbers of your valuable property—like TVs, VCRs, watches, cameras, computers, cell phones, jewelry, etc., and include descriptions and photographs if possible.
  • Make sure you have insured your valuables under a personal article policy if it exceeds the value covered under your homeowner’s policy.
  • Lock up your ladder after use to make it difficult for a burglar to use.


  • Don't leave your car running with the keys in it, even for a moment. A car was stolen from in front of the Post Office when a woman ran in, leaving her keys behind in the car. Thieves hang around such areas just waiting for these opportunities to appear.
  • Park in a well lit and populated area.
  • Keep everything either out of your car or out of plain sight. Almost half of our monthly crime statistics involve thefts of cellular phones, clothing, CD players, CDs, car stereos, briefcases, etc.  Protect your out-of-town guests by informing them of this.

Additional Resources