How To Prevent Your Home From Being Burglarized
Unfortunately a friend of mine recently had her apartment broken into. She was horrified to discover that a complete stranger had intruded into her personal space, ransacked through her personal belongings and stole precious jewelry and property she worked very hard to get. Being robbed is a petrifying and violating experience. Over 1.5 million U.S. homes get broken into each year, about 35%-40% of which are unforced. So in spite of my friend’s very unfortunate incident, here are some very helpful things you can do to avoid your home from being burglarized.
Don’t Advertise: Show boating desirable things you own is like bait to a burglar. When a burglar paces a neighborhood or apartment complex the first thing they look for is what is on display. Leaving bicycles, expensive tools and equipment, etc., in your driveway, yard, or balcony will make you prone to being robbed. You should also be very conscientious of the trash you leave out in your driveway. If you recently purchased a brand new 42” flat screen TV do not leave the cardboard packaging in your recycling bin. This tells robbers that there’s a very expensive brand new TV inside for the taking, as well as potentially other expensive property. Never leave your blinds or curtains wide open when you aren’t home. Unobstructed windows basically put your house in a display case. Things like this tell a robber “Help yourself!”
If burglars think someone is home then chances are they won’t attempt to break in. Leaving deterrents on such as interior lights, the radio, or the television are good ways to scare off a burglar. If you are going to consume extra electricity by leaving lights on it is wise to switch these lights to LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. Using a timer on your “security” lights is a wise idea as well. Although it can be pricey installing an alarm system is well worth it. Alarm systems come with signs for the yard or entryway informing onlookers that your home is monitored. These decals usually deter burglars from attempting to break in.
Secure Sliding Doors & Windows: Older sliding glass doors can easily be popped off their tracks even if they are locked. This is a very common way burglars enter older homes or apartment buildings. Whether you have newer glass doors or not, you should always have some kind of a sturdy blockage that slides into the back groove to keep the door from sliding open. A PVC pipe, 2×4, or steel bar, etc. are great devices to use for this. Even if an intruder can pick the lock, they won’t be able to slide open the door. Although you should always lock your windows before leaving the house, you can install a simple pin or nail into the frame to stop it from raising more than a few inches. This will add an additional layer of security in case someone pops off the screen and you have left the window unlocked. If you have window air conditioning units add a stopper to that window frame if you can jimmy the window up from the outside.
Don’t Leave A Spare Key Out: Although it may seem like a good idea to leave a spare key stashed somewhere in the event you accidentally get locked out, doing this is basically leaving an invitation for burglars to walk right in. It is common for people to leave a key under the mat, on top of edge of the door frame, or in a nearby flower pot. So if it’s common for residents to do this, then it’s common for burglars to know this. Even if you hide a key in places that aren’t typical, a burglar pacing the neighborhood could be watching you and see exactly where you retrieve your spare key. Instead, leave your key with a trusted neighbor or nearby friend. You can also put your key in an outdoor lockbox and attach it to something sturdy that won’t be viewable from the street when you retrieve it. Always remember to shuffle the letters or numbers on the lockbox after you return the key. A lot of people negligently forget to shuffle the combination leaving it for a determined burglar to find. Remember to never put anything identifiable on your keys in case you lose them. If you do lose your keys, change the locks. Always. You can never be too precautious.
Keep Your Property Well Landscaped: Tall shrubs near windows offer great hiding places for intruders just waiting for you to leave the house and the coast to be clear. A good deterrence is planting holly bushes or any other kind of thorny bush near windows. Tall tree branches that are close to upper level windows or balconies are a way burglars can climb up and break in. Keep your trees pruned back and your yard landscaped and trimmed down to avoid making your home more prone to break-ins.
Don’t Make It Obvious You Are On Vacation: Residential burglaries are at their highest between June and August and during the holidays as many families are away on vacation. Burglars will focus in on certain neighborhoods during these two seasons trying to find homes that appear that no one is home. Remember the movie “Home Alone” where the two bandits paced the neighborhood looking to see which houses were empty? So when you are on vacation do your best to keep your home from looking as if you’re gone. Piled up mail and newspapers, an overgrown lawn, and no lights on at night are tell tale signs that no one is home and won’t be for a period of time. Inform a trusted neighbor that you will be gone and ask that they kindly keep an eye on your house and pick up your mail daily. Put timers on some inside lamps on all floors, and do not leave your porch light on unless it is on a timer as well. A porch light that stays on night after night and throughout the day is another clue no one is home. If you landscape your own yard consider hiring a landscaper while you’re gone to keep your lawn from overgrowing and leaves from over piling; another tell tale sign of an empty house. If you have a home phone do not change your message to inform callers that you are away on vacation. Ideally, have a friend house sit while you’re away to avoid your home from being tagged altogether.
Get Sturdy Locks: Make sure all of your entry doors have dead bolts on them, including the door that leads to the garage from the house. Just because your garage door may be down people can still find a way to lift it and get in. Ensure that all windows have locks on them and double check weaker doors like patio doors and sliding doors and make sure their locks are sturdy enough. And never under any circumstances leave your house without locking up. Even if you’re just going around the corner for ice cream it only takes a thief minutes to rob you of some major personal property.
Reference: Home & Garden.com
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