Tips to Deter Burglars from Targeting your Home

Are you concerned that your home may become the target of burglars? If so, taking the steps below will both calm your fears, and keep you and your home as safe possible. Burglars want to get in and out as quick as they can, so they most likely won’t break into a home that has implemented the following security measures.

First, here are some facts that may help you to determine how much burglar proofing your house needs:

1. According to statistics, kicking in the front door is the most prevalent type of forced entry.

2. Study after study has found that the vast majority of burglars avoid homes once they determine an alarm system is in place. In addition, when an alarm sounds, almost all thieves immediately leave the premises.

3. Entering into a home through an unlocked window or door accounts for 33 percent of all burglaries.

4. One of the more popular crimes afflicting the nation is thieves gaining access to homes via the mail slot.

Before breaking into a home, approximately 25% of burglars cut telephone and/or alarm wires.

Tips to secure your home:

1. To prevent burglars from using the door as an easy target for access to your home, don’t let them take advantage of it’s weakest point — the lock strike plate. Use a heavy duty strike plate with 3 inch screws. Also, make sure you use a solid core door. Hollow doors are extremely easy to kick in. In addition, Install a deadbolt lock on the front (and back) door, and make sure you use it, even when you are home.

2. If you have a mailslot, you may want to consider buying a new door with a smaller or lower mailslot. Burglars are known for removing the frame from the mailslot and reaching in with a hand to unlock the door, or fishing through the mailslot with wire to hook nearby keys.

3. When you buy a big ticket item, do not put the box out at the curb until garbage day. Doing so is like having a neon sign on your front lawn saying “We’ve got the goods here!”

4. Keep ladders locked up so they can’t be used to gain access to the second floor of your home. In addition make sure your shed and garage are secure so that thieves can’t find tools they can use to break into your home.

5. The best rooms in the house to hide valuables are the basement and the attic. Burglars usually won’t touch these rooms, as they don’t have an escape route, should the homeowner or police confront them. The master bedroom is the worst place to hide anything of value — it is usually the first place a thief will look.

6. Planting bushes around the perimeter of your house makes climbing in through a window to gain access to your home less inviting. However, they should be low enough (no taller than three feet) to prevent thieves from using them to hide out, and so that neighbors can still keep a watchful eye on your house and yard. In addition, keep tree branches trimmed so they are at least six feet off of the ground. Planting any type of bushes with thorns is another suggestion to consider.

7. Although it is one of the more expensive options, alarm systems are one of the best deterrents. It is far better to pay the extra money for a security system, than risk having thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen from your home. Plus, insurance companies usually offer up to 20% off a homeowner’s policy if the house has a security system. Homes that do not have alarm systems are 300% more likely to be targeted by burglars. A wireless home security system is your best bet, because there are no wires that can be cut.

8. Using an alarm system’s stickers to warn people that you have a security system can give thieves a heads up on how to disarm it by letting them know the type of alarm they are dealing with. (However, if you do your research, you should be able to find an alarm system that is virtually burglar proof.) If the sticker is generic and does not contain the name of the security company, thieves will think the sticker is a fake, and that no alarm system exists.

9. Keep your yard lit up on all sides with motion sensor lights, and consider installing security cameras at the entrances of your home. Dummy security cameras can be spotted a mile away by thieves, so don’t use them.

10. If you have a garage door remote more than 15 years old, get a new one. The code on the older ones can be captured by thieves who use “code sniffers” when you are opening your garage door. Then later on, they can use their own remote to open your garage door.

11. If you have air conditioners in your windows, make sure they are mounted in place with screws. It only takes 2 minutes, and it is definitely worth your time, as unsecured air conditioners are one of the easiest entry ways for burglars.

12. Keep drapes closed when you are not home so would-be burglars can’t go window shopping for items they want.

13. It is very tempting to hide a house key outside for someone when you can’t be home to let them in. However, never leave a key in obvious places, such as under a doormat, rock, or flower pot. These locations are the first place a burglar will look for a key. Instead, buy an outdoor safe that requires you to enter a code to unlock, and keep your key in there.

14. Always keep jewelry, credit cards, money, and other valuables either locked up in a safe that is bolted to the floor, or hidden in a place that is not an obvious choice for a burglar. Keep costume jewelry in your jewelry box as a decoy, as thieves usually just grab and run without carefully looking. You may even want a decoy safe with small screws filled with costume jewelry to fool the burglar partially in sight, while the real safe is well hidden.

15. Keep up your property. A well maintained yard implies that you pay careful attention to your home. A burglar may take an overgrown lawn as a sign of vacancy, and may view your home as a potential target.

16. Avoid buying doors which have glass near the door knob. If you already have a door with a large glass window, cover it with security window film. It makes the glass extremely difficult to break. You can also cover other windows around your home with the film.

17. Windows should be shut when you are out of the home, even if for only short errands, and when you are going to bed for the night. When you do want your your windows open, do not open them more than 4-6 inches. Keep items such as garbage bins away from the windows, so they can’t be used to climb on.
If you have a sliding glass door, or feel you need extra security for your front or back door, consider using a security bar to prevent the door from opening.

18. Change the door locks as soon as you move into a new home (or apartment.)

19. Locked side gates can be a deterrent; just make sure your gate doesn’t have a handle that can be used by the burglar to stand on and help himself over. Also, having a trellis on the top of the gate can make thieves think twice. It often snaps when it is stepped on.

20. The simple trick of placing a beware of dog sign in your window, even if you do not have a dog, or using a barking dog alarm should not be overlooked in helping to detract burglars. If you really want to do it up, place a dog chain and bowl near the back door.

These last three items are ideas you should consider if you are going on a trip:

1. Don’t talk about your trip on social media, and even watch who you talk to and where you talk about your plans. Emails are not secure, and you should never mention that you are taking a trip in a message.

2. Make sure you ask the post office to hold your mail. Also, call your newspaper and suspend your subscription until you return. Put lamps, and possibly a tv or radio on a random timer so the house appears occupied. Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out and pick up any other items that are delivered to your door (pamphlets, flyers, menus, etc.,) and put out your trash on garbage day.

3. If you are going to be away on a trip for at least a week, remember to hire someone to mow your lawn (or shovel your driveway if it’s winter.) Also, ask the police if you can be put on their “vacant house list.” They will drive by and check on your house periodically to make sure it is secure.

References:

Jorgustin, Ken. “3 Ways A Burglar Breaks In, 80 Percent Of The Time.” Modern Survival Blog. Last modified May 30, 2014. http://modernsurvivalblog.com/security/3-ways-a-burglar-breaks-in-80-percent-of-the-time/

Chianis, Alexia. “8 Surprising Home Invasion & Burglary Statistics.” SafeWise. Last modified May 20, 2014. http://www.safewise.com/blog/8-surprising-home-burglary-statistics/

“Burglar-Proof Your Home With These Safe Home Tips.” ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/story?id=6951923

“Security Statistics.” SafeguardtheWorld. http://www.safeguardtheworld.com/statistics.html

“How to (Cleverly) Secure Your Home Against Intruders.” Lifehacker. Last modified February 22, 2012.
http://lifehacker.com/5887264/how-to-cleverly-secure-your-home-against-intruders

Urbach, Victor. “What Burglars Don’t Want You to Know.” The Urbach Letter. Last modified March 2010. http://www.urbachletter.com/Archive/Safety_1003_BurglaryPrevention.htm

I have been a teacher, an educational trainer, editor, and freelance writer, but my most important job of all has been that of a wife and mother. I love spending time with my husband and 3 children.

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