How to Secure Your Home in Panama: Security Tips

I have been searching the web to find various safety tips.   The first step is to harden the target or make your home more difficult to enter. Remember, the burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess. The average burglar will spend no more than 2 minutes trying to get into a home.   These are some tips that came up.      NEIGHBORS:    Go out and meet your neighbors.  Have a block party and invite everyone within a fifteen minute walk of your house. A pot luck supper would be ideal. At the party, get everyone's phone number. Everyone should leave with the list.    A nosy neighbor is a positive thing when it comes to crime. Look out your window, walk around on your property and survey the homes around you. Alert your neighbors to suspicious solicitors.

Have the outside of your home lit up at night. 
Install security lights that come on at dusk and go off when it becomes light. 
Install motion lights on all four sides of your home, which come on when someone or something is moving around your property.
Keep a porch light on all night. Install motion sensor lighting on all four sides of the house.
Pick up litter, cut grass and make property repairs as needed. Cut back branches and hedges that give places for criminals to hide.
Keep gates, garages, tool sheds, pump rooms shut and locked at all times if possible. 
Lock up grills, lawn mowers, bicycles and other valuables in a garage or shed or lock them to a stationary object.
Do not leave tools outside, where they could be used to break into your house, this includes ladders which can help them get to second floor windows.
Lock exterior doors at night and every time you leave the house, even if it's just for a few minutes. 
The first defense between you and the thugs is a strong, solid core door. Preferably a steel one set in a steel reinforced frame.
Reinforce door jambs and hinges with 2-3″ screws which will withstand greater pressure. 
Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors to resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts. A quality deadbolt lock will have a beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used to shear off lock cylinder pins. A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a 'dead latch' mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card. 
Do not leave keys in the doors, glass can easily be broken to access the key, instead find a close hiding place, put glued on velcro to the key and to the hiding location, leaving you with an easy access to the key in proximity to the door
Have bars on the windows wherever possible. (Make sure a child can not fit between the bars).
Windows have latches, not locks and therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows.
For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches and make sure you can't reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device or reach through and unlock the door.
In sleeping rooms, these window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes. Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally. The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position. 
To prevent lifting on glass patio doors, you need to keep the door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted. You can also install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through both the sliding and fixed portion of the door. There are also numerous locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally. 
Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place. Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely big barking dogs. 
Make sure upper floor windows are not accessible from trees, fences or climbing up balconies.
Always keep your window coverings closed, especially at night. 
Don't open the door when you are home alone. Instead, make noise to indicate someone is at home, or answer through the closed door. Use the peephole before opening your door at all times. If there is no-one visible, do not open it. 
Never rely on a chain-latch as a barrier to partially open the door.
If someone claims they need to use your phone, offer to make the call yourself instead. 
If someone comes to your door and claims to be a government or utility official, ask for a name and a badge so that you can call the agency to confirm the person's identity. If you cannot verify someone's identity at your front door, call the police.
 Residents need to be wary of anyone offering repairs or contract work door-to-door. A quick way to verify whether a company is legitimate is to ask to see a copy of their operating license and call the company. 
Consider getting a CCTV monitoring system to monitor the front of your house. But rule number one remains: if you do not recognize the person(s) at the door, do not answer it.
Install an intercom system at the front door so you can speak with the person who is knocking or ringing your doorbell. 
If you are away from home in the evening, leave an interior light on as well as a radio or tv.
 Use timers to turns lights and televisions on and off when you are not home.
Home safes are designed to keep the smash and grab burglar, nosey kids, dishonest babysitter or housekeeper from gaining access to important documents and personal property. When installing a safe, avoid obvious locations such as the master bedroom closet. 
Complete a home inventory like this one. If your valuables or credit cards are lost or stolen, you will have serial numbers and phone numbers handy.
Build a reinforced safe room in your house with an extra mobile phone, where you and your family can run to immediately when someone starts to kick your door down.
Alarms systems can be monitored for fire as well as burglary for the same price. Most can monitor the outside perimeter of your property with motion detectors.
All systems should have an audible horn or bell.  Alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one or two minutes.  (The criminal is long gone and neighbors do not have to listen to the alarm bell).
Make sure your response call list is up to date
A good neighbor can wait for the police, allow them inside for an inspection, and secure the residence and have the damages repaired.
When dropping off a passenger, watch from the curb until they are safely inside and have a light lit.
Leave spare keys with a trusted neighbor, not under a doormat or planter or other obvious hiding place. 
Keep some type of personal protection like pepper spray or mace near the front door - easily within reach in case of a forced intrusion.
Set up a speed-dial on your phone to 911 or police; also make it so that your phone can be used in speaker phone mode, so that the dispatcher can hear what is going on.  (Note in Panama 911 is only for medical emergencies, find out what your local police phone no. is).
Make sure you have a cordless phone so you can move around the home. Ensure it is fully charged at all times for emergencies. Have a cell phone available in case phone lines are cut. 
Practice an escape plan with your family, and have a way out of the house. Teach the children how to get out of the house and where to go for help.
Get a CCTV camera system. If something does happen, there will be evidence for the police. 
Burglars know to look inside your car for keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even when parked inside your garage.
Identify your valuables by engraving your drivers’ license number (not social security no.).  
Photograph and record the serial numbers of all valuables 
Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other documents 
Store the copies in a safe deposit box or with a relative.
Have some signs that announce obstacles "beware of guard dog", "these premises protected by XYZ, an NRA sticker on the window. 
Dummy surveillance cameras provide a few minutes of thought for a potential intruder.
Have some non lethal self defense weapons such as pepper sprays and stun guns located in a few places around the house. Even some audible alarms will help (air horns).
 An Electronic Secure Dog (these do not work if the walls are cement and the door is metal). Once plugged in, this device can be set to create the sound of an angry and protective watchdog or even a warning siren.
If you do not have or do not want a dog, place a large food bowl and dog toys around your home to create the impression that a dog lives there.
Leave large dirty shoes close to the entry way, showing that a large man lives on the premises.
Get copies of the cedulas and police reports for full time employees.  Get cedula nos.  and phone nos. from the temporary employees and contractors.
When your home is a construction site, be aware that individuals find out about the security situation and identify easy targets. 
Security wire should be installed on top of a cement/stone wall.  If you have a chain link fence, it should be installed in the middle as to not be able to gain entry by cutting the fence. 
Do not ever agree to be taken to an ATM machine or anywhere else by an attacker. Same goes for getting into a vehicle.
Do not leave items like purses, jewels, keys, etc. on a surface that can be accessed by a hand going through open windows even if they have bars.