The thought of a home break-in is terrifying, but are you doing everything you can to prevent one? You might be making critical mistakes that make your home a burglar magnet, or, at least failing to take advantage of easy fixes to make your home less attractive to thieves.
Protecting your house during the day
The reality is that one in four robberies involve a known associate or the homeowner or renter, many robberies take place during the afternoon – female robbers, and there are plenty, tend to prefer this time – and most often the victim’s medicine cabinet is the real target. Most burglaries are drug-involved.
That means making sure a home is secure during the day is every bit as important as securing it at night.
Examining the exterior of your home by walking the perimeter and taking note of areas of concern is the first step. “The best way to protect your home from the outside is to survey it with the eyes of a burglar.
Leaving doors or windows open
The number of burglars who are able to access a home through a window or door that was left unlocked is disturbing. Making sure locks are strong and in good working order is key to protecting your place.
Upgrade your door
You can help make sure you’re not one of the ones who comes home to a kicked-in door by making a smart upgrade. A solid wood door that can’t be easily breached might just make someone turn around and move on to another home.
Get a deadbolt
New door or not, adding a deadbolt is a great deterrent for criminals. A Reddit post on the topic of home burglary asked thieves how to keep a home safe from theft. The consensus: The sight of a deadbolt will likely make a burglar choose another home. Other types of locks can be easily picked, and often it takes no more than the swipe of a credit card.
Change the locks
Did you change the locks when you moved in to your house? Whether you just took possession today or have lived in the home for a few years, getting a fresh new lock and set of keys is easy, and smart. You never know if there is a key floating around out there that could give someone immediate access to your place.
Don’t hide a key
While we’re talking about keys…that whole key under the rock thing isn’t fooling anyone. It’s time to cut that out.
Secure sliding doors
Sliding patio doors can be an open invitation to burglars because they typically create a simple forced entry opportunity. A curtain rod or pole cut to size and placed in the sliding track can keep the door from budging. This easy, budget-friendly tip can make the difference between a home that is an easy target and one that causes a criminal to look elsewhere.
A poorly lit yard
When the sun goes down, it’s time time to apply another layer of protection to keep your home and your family safe, and lights are a great place to start. Not only will a good lighting system out front highlight your home and landscaping, but it will make it less likely that your home will be targeted. Motion sensor lighting is great, especially for darker areas, and newer products combine motion sensors with video playback.
Be smart about lighting
Just as you want your home to be well-lit to discourage a would-be burglar, you don’t want it to be too lit at certain times. A home whose lights stay on all night long for a few days in a row is a tipoff to someone casing the neighborhood that the residents are probably on vacation. That makes your home a great candidate to be burglarized.
Trim those hedges
Tall hedges or other greenery close to the house can act as hiding places for burglars. If you do want landscaping up close to your house, HomeAdvisor suggest planting “thorny shrubs by your windows to make it not only difficult to break in, but painful!”
And don’t forget about second-stories. A tree can be climbed for access to a window, so prune those branches!
Get to know your neighbors
You know when nosy neighbors can come in really handy? When they notice and alert you to questionable activity around your home. HomeAdvisor reports that, “Crime tends to be lower in tight-knit communities because neighbors are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger. Your neighbors can be one of your best assets in home crime prevention because they offer extra eyes and an outside perspective. Plus, if they have a different work or school schedule from yours, they might be around during the day when you’re away and can alert you to any suspicious activity that may occur in your absence.”
If you’re somewhat of an introvert and don’t want to physically meet your neighbors, at least join Nextdoor to keep up with neighborhood happenings online. You might learn about a crime spree or suspicious individuals in your neighborhood to look out for.
Keep your plans to yourself
You may want to brag online about your European vacation and post pictures from every city on your month-long tour, but consider who’s seeing or hearing what you’re putting out there.
Anyone could overhear you and know that your home is going to stand empty for a few days, creating the perfect opportunity to target your home. It’s especially important to emphasize to children that when they mention outings innocently on their social networking pages, they are opening the door to strangers who might want to burglarize your home while you’re out.”
Get an alarm
If you’re on the fence about the expense of an alarm system, consider this: According to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte study, “A majority of burglars considered the presence of deterrents such as alarms, outdoor cameras and other surveillance equipment when choosing a potential residential or commercial target,” said Alarm.org. “Approximately 83 percent of the offenders said they would attempt to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60 percent said they would seek an alternative target. This was particularly true among the subset of burglars who were more likely to spend time deliberately and carefully planning a burglary.”
A key piece of data from the study is the fact that, “Among those who discovered the presence of an alarm while attempting a burglary, half reported they would discontinue the attempt, while another 31 percent said they would sometimes retreat. Only 13 percent said they would always continue the attempt even after an alarm had been discovered.”
Get a security camera
A study also found that video surveillance was a top choice for theft deterrent.
Mind your porch
Package theft is one of the fastest-growing crime categories around. Home deliveries are tempting for would-be crooks looking to snatch your stuff. And, if thieves think you’re an easy mark for stealing packages, they may come back for more, or get more aggressive about their tactics. You can eliminate this temptation by only scheduling deliveries for when you’ll be home.