Growing up in Maine, we never locked our doors  (car or home) until the day we were burglarized. Now I live in a relatively crime-free area or rural Maine, yet I own a sophisticated alarm system and lock all my doors. I know people who do not and want to believe that there is no need to do so. I know someone who chastises people for locking their doors.

Whether it’s a computer system, a high tech installation, or your home – the weakest link in any security system is the people.

You can own steel doors with super-secure deadbolts, but if you fail to lock them they are useless. You can have a firewall and antivirus software installed on your computer, but if you open that email attachment from uncle Fred, you can infect your system. Companies can install intrusion detection and prevention systems on their network, but allow their employees to walk out the door with a hard drive full of valuable secrets.

The things that make us more or less safe boil down to the decisions we make daily.

Security is always a trade-off. I know I could stay relatively secure if I moved into the woods and locked myself in a panic-room wearing a bulletproof vest. However, the trade-off in lifestyle is not one I’m willing to make. There is no system that is 100% safe. Looking at security measures and their trade-offs is a good way to analyze and figure ways to become safer from crime.

Having lived in the city for 20 years, locking my doors is second nature. It isn’t really an inconvenience or extra expense. Having an alarm is a minor expense and a slight inconvenience, but saves a little on homeowners insurance and gives me some peace of mind. Everything else I do, which is undisclosed for security purposes, is a result of choices of trade-offs I have made. Only you can decide which tradeoffs you’re willing to make.

As an example,  jogging alone at dusk through a sparsely populated park with lots of blind spots while wearing headphones is one way that people in major cities like to get mugged. Seriously –  this is an activity that that encourages a lot of crime. So what are some trade-offs that could make jogging safer? Jogging with a friend may not be convenient, but may be the safest alternative. Choose a well-lit area with more people – not as nice an experience maybe, but safer. Don’t wear headphones while jogging – allow yourself the senses you were given to avoid danger.

Think about what you are willing to trade in order to be more safe. For some people it’s emotionally difficult to hold the idea that there are people who see them merely as objects to get what they want. You might have to give up some psychological comfort. Unfortunately, this is the criminal mindset. You do not have to go from blissfully ignorant to completely paranoid – there is a nice medium where you can live a happy but safer life.

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