When it comes to home security, being prepared truly is key. On May 23, the Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion at the James Kennedy Public Library on what to do, as well as what not to do, to protect homes and businesses and prevent break-ins. Fidelity Bank sponsored the event.

The event’s first panelist, Dyersville Chief of Police Brent Schroeder, said that while break-ins are not a common occurrence in Dyersville, they tend to happen in clusters. He also pointed out that, as a recent trend, burglars tend to take small amounts from multiple businesses, naming spare coins as one untraceable object frequently taken from businesses.

“Most burglars don’t want a large theft on their record,” said Schroeder. He also said any break-in could occur in a matter of seconds, so it is important to secure homes and businesses before it happens.

Luckily, preventing break-ins can be as simple as replacing a few screws. Panelist Philip Hoeger, from Mr. Lock & Key in Dyersville, said picking locks is no longer a common method of getting into a house.

“It takes too much time, and too much skill,” he says. Popping off door hinges, on the other hand, takes little to no skill or experience.

“We can have a million locks on our doors, but it doesn’t matter if the hinges are on the outside,” he said. To fix the problem, Hoeger recommends using a security hinge in doors with outside hinges. A security hinge uses a pin and hole inside the door hinge. If the hinge gets popped off while a door is locked, a security hinge prevents the door from being opened.

Another useful tool Hoeger recommends for businesses and homeowners is security film. It can be placed over existing glass in doors and windows, and makes it nearly impossible to shatter.

“It’s just little upgrades that make a big difference in security,” he said.

Panelists Sean Held and Tony Zurcher, from Techmates, agreed, but said to be wary of cheap solutions.

“Cheap cameras can be a vulnerability,” said Held. He said that, because they are nearly foolproof to set up, they are also incredibly easy to jam, giving those with a little bit of technological experience the ability to watch your security cameras. “A camera monitored by the bad guy is worse than no camera at all,” he added.

Zurcher said that no matter what camera system you choose, it is important to test it. “If the hard drive isn’t functioning, all the cameras in the world can’t help.” He said that many camera systems allow for a back-up hard drive to be placed in a second location.

Hoeger had a similar idea when it comes to buying a safe. “You’re not just buying a safe,” he said, “you’re investing in one.” Hoeger recommends staying away from shopping for any security items from big box stores, as the products usually lack quality and security. He and Schroeder both recommend buying a safe that can be bolted to the ground or to another large, heavy object.

In the end, all speakers agreed it is important to use common sense when protecting your home or business. Schroeder recommends “thinking like a bad guy” when checking your home or business for security issues. Hoeger and Zurcher both added that their companies will provide walk-throughs to give suggestions for anyone who may have security questions.

“Be protected,” said Zurcher. “Know how to use your equipment, and hopefully you’ll never need to use it.”