As noted in an informative HomeAdvisor.com article, a burglary takes place about every 18 seconds in the United States. That adds up to nearly 200 per hour and approximately 4,800 every day. These are startling statistics, but the good news is, the more you learn about burglary, the more effectively you can help protect your home and family.
Though many people only worry about nighttime security, most burglaries actually occur during daylight hours when most people are at work, school, or running errands. It’s important to take precautions during the day, after dark, and any time you leave the house to ensure your home stays secure.
When it comes to protecting your family and your belongings, you can’t be too careful - and there are plenty of ways you can protect your home from invasion or burglary.
PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM THE OUTSIDE
Walk around the exterior of your home and scout out its weaknesses. The best way to protect your home from the outside is to survey it with the eyes of a burglar. If you can easily tell that a window could be pried open, a thief will definitely be able to come to the same conclusion. While you’re checking for vulnerable spots, take note of any expensive electronics, art, or furniture that is easily spotted through windows. You don’t have to redecorate your entire home to keep expensive items out of sight, but it doesn’t hurt to make small adjustments where you can. No need to tempt thieves any more than you have to!
Keep shrubbery around entrances and walkways trimmed. The last thing you want is to make it easier for a thief to hide when attempting to break in, so eliminate his options for hiding spots. He may only need a few minutes of cover to make his entry but with no place to hide while doing it, he’s less likely to even try. You could even plant thorny shrubs by your windows to make it not only difficult to break in, but painful!
Build a fence. If you don’t have one already, a fence can be an excellent way to keep unwanted visitors off your property. Open chain-link or ornamental metal fencing tend to be preferable and are ideally secured into concrete to prevent lifting. Solid fences can be easier to climb and offer thieves a place to hide, though some homeowners prefer them for privacy and noise reduction. You can better secure them by having sharp pointed tops or, if you don’t mind a rougher look, barbed wire.
Stow expensive items like grills, cars, and bikes in the garage. Though it may seem like a hassle to roll out the grill for every barbecue, leaving it out makes it an easy target for thieves. They don’t even have to enter your home to grab it, and if it’s got wheels it can be a breeze to sneak away with. If your area only offers street parking, always lock your car and be sure to park in a well-lit area.
Use curtains on garage and basement windows. Chances are these areas don’t need the sunlight, so put up curtains or blinds for privacy and protection. Stowing your outdoor valuables only does so much good if they’re constantly on display!
Install motion sensor lighting around your home, especially at entrances. Shine a spotlight on a potential intruder before he can even touch your doors or windows by adding extra lighting with motion detectors at entrances and especially dark corners of your home. If you live in an apartment, ask your landlord to install sufficient lighting in walkways and halls to eliminate dark corners.
Keep your yard free of toys, tools, and ladders. A yard littered with toys signals to a thief that the house may be filled with equally interesting entertainment, like game consoles, tablets, or laptops. A ladder or toolbox left out even briefly for an afternoon can give an opportunistic thief help in gaining access to your house.
Talk to your neighborhood association about increased lighting on your street. Burglars often case an entire street or neighborhood to determine if it’s a good target, but often prefer to do so in the dark of night. A well-lit neighborhood will likely deter him from your area, or at the very least make it very difficult for him to slip away undetected.
Prune trees around two-story homes. A determined crook may scale a tree and break into an upstairs window if branches are long enough to give him access. If you have a second floor, trim back tree branches to prevent a cat burglar from making his move.
Consider forming a neighborhood watch program. This will give you the opportunity to get to know your neighbors better and create an invaluable awareness and commitment to crime prevention in your area. You can speak to your local police department about giving your group an informal lecture that can provide insight into identifying a suspicious person and what to do if you spot one loitering on your street.
Keep fences, gates, and garage doors locked. It’s worth investing in a quality padlock for each outside entrance, even if you only lock it at night. However, since most friends and family won’t mind calling ahead to let you know they’re visiting, it’s best to leave them locked at all times. Never leave your garage door open if you aren’t in it or outside and able to keep an eye on it.
Secure your car. If you must park on the street, do so in a well-lit area and bring valuables like cell phones, purses, GPS devices, and satellite radios inside. Never leave anything of value in plain view, and always lock the doors and roll up windows. Break-ins can occur in even the safest neighborhoods, and an unlocked car is one of the easiest possible targets. Never leave a spare key in the visor or anywhere else inside, even if the car is locked.
PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM THE INSIDE
Keep all doors and windows closed and locked at all times. An open exterior window or door is an invitation for burglars to easily enter your home, so keep them shut and securely locked whether you’re home or not. Don’t underestimate strong window locks, and update them if needed. Thieves know how to spot weak locks that would be easily forced open. Make sure exterior doors have deadbolt locks. Sliding doors should have vertical bolts and a metal or wooden rod in the track to prevent being forced open or doors being lifted off the track. Never leave your home without locking the front door, no matter how brief your trip. And don’t forget the door attached to the garage. It’s one of the easiest targets and a likely route of entry. Don’t depend on your automatic garage door for full security.
Secure valuables in a home safe or lockbox. If it is small and not mounted, consider having your safe bolted to the floor since many burglars will simply take it with them. Give your pass code or combination only to a trusted loved one in case of emergency. Don’t leave it posted anywhere in your house easily accessible to an intruder.
Don’t label your personal keys or hide spares outside. If your keys are labeled and get lost or stolen you could be in big trouble, especially if your wallet with your ID and address are with them. And thieves know how to look under mats and in the gravel for fake rocks to find hidden keys, so instead leave a spare with a trusted neighbor. If you live in a rural area and your closest neighbor is miles down the road, opt for a combination lockbox in a discreet area of your property.
Consider buying a home security system. There are countless features with any security system, and some particularly valuable ones are outdoor motion detectors, sensors at exterior doors, windows, and the door attached to the garage, an outdoor alarm to alert other neighbors to an intrusion, and security cameras. Select the features that best fit your needs and be sure to go with a well-known, reputable company. Do your best to learn and inform your family about the security system to cut down on false alarms. They can actually bring on expensive fines, not to mention annoy your neighbors. Plus, you don’t want to have a boy-who-cried-wolf effect where your neighbors eventually learn to ignore your alarm anytime it goes off!
Reinforce windows with safety glass or metal bars. It may seem an extreme step, but burglars will often break a small window in order to gain entry. Make it impossible for them to break through by installing safety glass or impossible to squeeze through by installing metal bars. There are plenty of decorative options for metal grilles that can make the adjustment both practical and aesthetically-pleasing.
Home invasion and burglary will probably never be eliminated from society, but their threats shouldn’t cause you to live your life in fear. Take these simple measures to secure your home – and reduce the chances that a crook will even look at it twice!