Preventing burglaries is about eliminating opportunities. According to the FBI, a burglary happens in the United States every 25.7 seconds (2018 statistic). With this in mind, home security should be a high priority for us all. Take steps to make sure burglars won’t see your home as an easy target. Putting the following measures in place will help protect your family and home around the clock.
Check Your Home for External Weaknesses
Burglars look for easy targets, generally, they will look for another target if they can’t quickly and easily gain entry to a property. That means the first thing to do is to get outside and walk around the exterior of your home. As you are walking, keep a lookout for any weak points and places a burglar may try to use as an entry point.
You need to look at your house as if you were a burglar who wanted to get in, look at the windows and doors for vulnerable spots. Also take note of any expensive items such as TV’s, furniture or art that can be seen through the windows from outside. Move these valuables out of sight, a simple rearrangement of your furnishings can make your home appear less appealing to criminals. Some local police departments are willing to provide a home assessment to help you identify weak spots that need attention.
Install additional security devices
This is a simple but vitally important step. Check your existing locks are working properly and consider installing additional locks on windows and doors. Other security devices such as padlocks, bars or bolts are also worth considering. Deadbolt locks are best, choose pick-resistant options where possible. Installing these will increase how much time and effort it takes for someone to break into your house.
Install motion sensor lighting
Motion sensor lighting outside your home makes it much more difficult for burglars to hide in the shadows. Their movement will trigger the light and it will shine onto them before they get close to your house. Having a light shone onto them makes a burglar very vulnerable and will make it much harder for them to get into your home unnoticed.
Trim shrubbery and walkways
Keep the yard well maintained to make it harder for thieves to hide when they are scouting your house or attempting to break-in. Removing plants that provide potential cover is a simple way to make it harder for someone to break in. You could also plant thorny plants around windows to make it more awkward for someone to enter through these points.
Install security cameras
Having security cameras at key entry points is a great deterrent as it lets potential burglars know that people are watching. Make sure the cameras are out of easy reach so they can’t be tampered with. Also, consider installing a burglar alarm in the home.
Put up a fence
Having a fence around your property is an easy way to stop people from entering. Chain link fences are best as solid fences offer somewhere for burglars to hide (they are also easier to climb over). You can make the fence extra secure by choosing one with sharp tops that deter climbing.
Store expensive outdoor items in a locked garage
If you keep bikes, cars and grills outside in the open it makes them an easy target for thieves. Keeping your equipment and valuables in your garage makes it harder for someone to steal them. When it comes to your car make sure you don’t leave any valuables in plain sight either, roll-up windows and lock the doors.
Prune trees near your windows
Some thieves will use tree branches as a way to gain access to your home. Pruning tree branches that are close to your upstairs windows is a simple way to prevent this from happening.
Get to know your neighbors
Neighbors are incredibly valuable when it comes to keeping the neighborhood a safe place. Neighbors look out for each other and when you know your neighbors well it becomes easy to spot a stranger in the area. Being friends with your neighbors increases the number of eyes and ears that recognize suspicious activity. Your neighbors may also work on a different schedule to you so they may be able to alert you to potential problems when you are away from home.
Join the local neighborhood watch
To add on to the previous point, consider joining the local neighborhood watch group as this is a fantastic way of getting to know your neighbors and increase awareness and prevention of crime in your local area. If there isn’t a local neighborhood watch group you may want to consider starting one.
Don’t leave tools and toys outside
Leaving tools and children’s toys scattered around outside can make thieves think there are interesting items kept in your home too. Tools can also be used by the thief to help them gain entry into your home so put them away after you have used them.
Check Your Home for Internal Weaknesses
Now that the outside of your home is more secure, let’s take a look at the things you can do inside your home to prevent burglary.
Keep all windows and doors locked
Making sure these easy entrance points are closed and properly locked is important. Think about updating the locks to ensure they are not easy to break or force open. Exterior doors should have deadbolt locks, sliding doors should have vertical bolts and windows should have secure locks too. When you head out, make sure you have closed and locked the windows and doors.
Change the locks
If you are moving into a new home, change the locks. You can ask the landlord to change the locks if you are moving into rented accommodation too. Even if all of the original keys have been handed back it’s better to be safe and change the locks as there is no way of knowing if any key copies were made.
Consider a home security system
There are loads of home security systems available. These offer outdoor sensors, alarms and security cameras. Make sure you arm the system whenever you go out as there is no point having a home security system if you don’t make use of it. Many burglars know that people neglect to properly use the system as many homeowners think the security warning sticker is deterrent enough. Pick a home security system from a quality, reputable, local installer.
Keep valuables in a safe or lockbox
Keep your valuables locked away and make sure the lockbox or safe is bolted down to prevent thieves from taking it with them. Don’t write down the code or password for the safe anywhere in the house either.
Don’t hide a spare key outside
All of your home security efforts are wasted if you leave a key outside the house. Burglars know all of the hiding spots and can quickly find a hidden key if there is one. If you want to leave a key somewhere, give it to a trusted neighbor instead.
Don’t label keys
Labelled keys can land you in hot water if you lose them. Especially if the keys are found with your wallet where your ID and home address can easily be determined. Don’t label keys, you know what they are for and that’s what is important.
Use privacy film on glass to distort the view
This is a low-cost way of stopping people from being able to look into your house. It is a simple and beneficial way of adding privacy.
Windows are a well-used point of entry so reinforcing them makes sense. Adding safety glass that can’t be broken through or bars that make it impossible for someone to climb through will make a huge difference in preventing someone from gaining entry to your home.
Keeping Your Home Safe While You’re Away
If you are planning a vacation, you may need to put some additional measures in place to ensure your home does not look empty while you are away. An empty home is an easy target to burglars so these simple techniques can help it look as though there’s someone home even when there’s not.
Make sure all windows and doors are properly closed and locked before you leave
Before you leave make sure your home is secured. Lock all the entry points including the garage door and be sure to leave curtains and blinds open in their usual position so it still looks like someone is around.
Have a neighbor keep an eye on your house and help make it look busy and lived in
Tell your neighbor about your travel plans and ask them to keep an eye on your home. Your neighbor can help keep your home safe by collecting your mail and using your outdoor trash cans. If you are away in the winter, ask a neighbor (or pay someone local) to clear your walkways and driveway. You could also ask your neighbor to drive down your track so there are fresh tire tracks and footprints to your home. If you are away during other times of the year you can pay someone to maintain your yard while you are gone so it does not become overgrown and unkempt.
Don’t leave a spare key outside
As noted earlier, give a key to your neighbor instead of hiding one outside. A spare key is important for emergencies but burglars will look for a hidden key so it is far safer to leave it with a trusted neighbor instead.
Put indoor and outdoor lights as well as an indoor radio on timers, this will help your home look lived in while you aren’t there. A well-lit home looks busy and is less likely to attract the attention of burglars. Use different timers in different parts of the house so that lights come on at different times. Having a radio that comes on is a good idea too to add sound and increase the illusion that someone is at home.
Don’t post about your trip on social media
Although it is tempting, you don’t want to advertise the fact you are away from home. Wait until you get back home to talk about your trip online. Also, don’t leave an answering machine message telling people you are out of town as this just tells people your home is empty and increases the chance of break-ins.
Leave a radio on
We mentioned putting a radio on a timer, you can also leave a battery-powered radio on somewhere in the house for added noise.
Turn down the volume of the phone and doorbell
You don’t want the burglar to be able to hear a phone ringing loudly and not being answered as that indicates no one is home. By turning down the volume of the landline and the doorbell, it can lead burglars to think you simply haven’t heard the sound and that’s why you haven’t answered (as opposed to you not being at home).
As you can see there are lots of easy ways you can make your home safer and more protected against criminals. Most of these tips are low cost and easy to implement so you can begin making changes right away.