Did you know that more than two million homes are burglarized in the United States each year? According to the FBI, a burglary happens every 16 seconds in the U.S. The summer months of July and August have the most burglaries with February having the fewest crimes. Burglars are often looking for items that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash. Your home is likely one of your most valuable possessions; a place you want to feel safe and secure from the potential dangers of the outside world. Most homes have weak points, and seasoned thieves are pretty good at finding them. Burglars usually seek out easy targets, and will move on if the job appears too difficult. Implementing these basic practices around your home is the first step to creating a secure environment for your family.
Manage visibility. Many thieves will case a target to pinpoint vulnerabilities. Burglars usually avoid well-lit homes, and installing floodlights with motion sensors attached will deter unwanted visitors. Make sure every entrance on your property is lit. Even if all you have is a porch light with a switch, use it. Outdoor security lights present more risk to a potential intruder. Schedule outdoor lights to be on in the evening, regardless of whether someone is home. That way, it’ll be harder to determine whether you’re on a trip or just working late. Protect the wiring to your lights to prevent them from being tampered with or disabled. Bury your wires underground if possible, or use electrical conduit. If wires are visible, they can be snipped or cut. It’s good practice to minimize the appearance of vacancy inside the house as well. A high risk of detection may be all it takes to motivate a burglar to choose an easier target. Establish a routine and stick with it.
Reinforce your doors and windows. The exterior doors to your home should have dead bolt locks that are at least 1 inch thick. Although these dead bolts can be more expensive than spring latch locks, they are much stronger and provide a higher level of security protection. A determined intruder can open most standard doors with a couple of kicks or body blows. Even if your door has a dead bolt, these blows can shatter doorjambs and split the door itself. Installing longer strike plate screws that anchor into the stud behind the jamb can greatly increase the strength of your doorjamb. Protect your patio doors, sliding glass doors and sliding windows by placing a metal bar along the bottom track of the door or window. A simple metal bar will protect these points of entry from being forced open by an intruder.
Invest in a monitored alarm system. An alarm is mostly an after-the-fact security measure. It’s about peace of mind; if someone attempts to break in, help will be on the way quickly. The best way to ensure an alarm really protects your home and family is making sure that criminals know you have an alarm before they target you. That means displaying the yard sign and window decals that say your house is protected by a home security system prominently outside the house. Regularly check to make sure the sign is visible. Burglars will generally bypass properties with visible alarm signs and go to another property that doesn’t have one.
Don’t Advertise. Lots of people share their vacation plans and post travel photos on social media without even considering how many people are viewing it. Would you announce to a group of total strangers that your home will be vacant during the holidays? Burglars also look at clues provided by your trash or recycling, which can indicate that there’s a new computer or flat-screen television in your home. Thieves also look for and steal packages left on your front porch, so consider requiring a signature for delivery.
Keep safety in mind while you’re landscaping. Walk around your property and look for areas that could be potential hiding spots for burglars. Clear away any overgrown areas. If you have large bushes or shrubs around your home, especially near ground level windows or doors, these can provide the perfect cover for thieves. Cut back tree limbs that hang over the roof, and remove any lower branches from trees next to the home. Also, if you’re going to be away for a while, designate someone to keep your yard maintained and lawn mowed.
Don’t hide keys on your property. Hiding your house keys in an obvious place might reduce the inconvenience if you find yourself locked out or need a friend to water your plants while you’re gone, but this greatly increases the chances that you’ll find yourself in the extremely inconvenient position of having your home burglarized. The best practice is to not hide extra keys anywhere on your property. The safest place possible for a spare key is with a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member. If you lock yourself out often, you may want to consider investing in a bluetooth smart lock for your door.