Did you know that a home burglary takes place every 18 seconds in the United States? Considering that the average property loss due to this crime is a devastating $2,251, it is wise to do all you can to prevent this theft from happening to you.
Adopting some, or all of these security-enhancing measures can minimize your chances of becoming the next burglary victim.
1. Install Security Cameras
Many people mistakenly believe that home robberies usually take place in the middle of the night under cover of darkness. In reality, the hours between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. are a burglar’s favorite time. That’s because most criminals want to commit their acts without the chance of being caught. If you’re usually at work or school during the day, your home is much more vulnerable to invasion.
Fortunately, today’s technology can have your back even when you’re miles away. Installing indoor and outdoor motion-sensitive cameras gives you a way to monitor your property no matter where you are. They can even alert you should an intruder set them off. Combining these cameras with a wireless security system for your home can provide you with the next best thing to an armed human guard for the times you are away from the house.
There are several types of cameras worth your attention. Doorbell video cameras focus on your porch, allowing you to view who is at your door. When set up with an intercom system, you can even talk to the person without even needing to come to the door or, for that matter, be home at all. Often, the very presence of this type of device can be a crime deterrent. Other options include both interior and exterior motion-sensitive cameras whose output you can view on your desktop PC, laptop or smartphone.
2. Play around with your routine
Amazingly, the majority of burglars live less than two miles away from the homes of their victims, and it’s no coincidence. By having the advantage of close proximity, the criminal can scope out your property, ferret out its weaknesses and get a sense of your daily routine.
There are several ways that you can foil your not-so-nice neighbor’s larcenous plans. Vary your activities and even the time you leave in the morning and come home in the evening. Use timers that turn lights on in different parts of your house to simulate your presence in the living-room, kitchen and later in the bedroom. Investing in smart LED light bulbs is also a great way to create the illusion that you are home. These inexpensive bulbs can do a lot more than save you money on your monthly electric bill. They can be turned on or off from your smartphone or tablet and can even be programmed remotely.
When you go away on vacation, enlist the help of friends and neighbors; ask them to bring in your mail, park their cars in your driveway at different times and to mow your lawn or shovel your driveway to provide the illusion that people are regularly home. These days, you can even rent out your parking spot while you’re gone using online sites such as ParkAtMyHouse.com. Particularly if you live in an area where parking spots are at a premium, this option can be a win-win for everyone: Your driveway looks occupied, and the other person can finally stop relentlessly circling the neighborhood looking for a place to put their car.
3. Make it as challenging as possible for a burglar to enter your home
Ten minutes: That’s all the time it takes a skillful burglar to break in, get what they want and leave. As a conscientious homeowner, your job is to make the prospect of robbing you as difficult and unappealing as possible. Deterrents can take many forms. They include displaying yard signs that advertise the presence of a wireless security system for your home, owning a dog, buying strong doors and deadbolts and ensuring that all windows are securely closed and locked even when you’re at home. Although you may not be much of a gardener, take time to cut back any shrubbery or trees that prevent the public from noticing the presence of someone sneaking around your property. Starting or joining an already existing neighborhood watch group can also help you to keep your ear to the ground when it comes to the presence of crime trends in your area.
In addition, many homeowners inadvertently leave tools and other pieces of equipment within a burglar’s easy reach, making it even easier to get into the home. Don’t just install locks on your house doors; also put one on the shed where you keep your tools. Be sure to stow items such as ladders out of reach of enterprising criminals as well. Don’t leave them out in the yard within easy reach of someone with bad intentions.
4. Hide your valuables intelligently
Criminals don’t just know the old trick about secreting an extra key under your doormat. They also have an excellent sense of where most people hide their valuables: the master bedroom. That’s the first place a robber will head after entering your home. They will go through your drawers and night tables, search in your mattress and peer into your closets looking for cash, jewelry and weapons.
To foil their plans, your best bet is to act counter to their expectations. Hide your precious possessions in unexpected places. Sometimes placing them in plain sight is actually your best strategy. Also, consider putting your most important items and documents into a safe that can be bolted to the floor. Renting a safe deposit box at a local bank is another excellent way to keep your most prized items safe from plunder.
5. Protect yourself when you’re home
Approximately 30 percent of all burglaries occur when someone is in the house. The only thing worse than the violation you feel when your belongings are stolen is to have the crime happen in your presence, a dangerous and terrifying proposition for anyone.
No matter how quiet your neighborhood appears to be and regardless of the time of day, you should always keep doors and windows locked and your home security system armed. Taking these precautions might seem excessive, but they might actually save your life and possessions one day.
6. Think like a burglar
For just a minute, imagine that you want to rob a house. If you have thievery on your mind, your goal is to get into the place as quickly and unobtrusively as possible and to spend as little time there as you can. That’s why the garage door is a favorite entry point, a place that even the most conscientious homeowners forget to close. Unfortunately, many attached garages lead directly into the home via an unlocked door.
Of course, never again forgetting to close your garage door is an admirable goal, just as was your New Year’s resolution to lose 10 pounds. But the truth is that everyone forgets, gets lazy and makes mistakes from time to time. Fortunately, today’s technology can come to the rescue. For less than $100, you can purchase an easy-to-install device that automatically closes your garage door for you after a specific amount of time that you set. It couldn’t be easier, and it’s virtually foolproof. While you’re at it, also install a deadbolt lock on that garage entrance, and keep it locked at all times.
7. Don’t make yourself vulnerable via social media
How many times have you been perusing a social media site such as Facebook or Instagram, only to see a post from someone you know raving about the vacation they are currently enjoying? Perhaps you have even fallen into this enticing trap yourself. While it is extremely tempting to share the details of your trip with friends and family back at home while the fun is happening, you are inadvertently announcing to the world that your house is unoccupied and ripe for the picking. It’s far preferable to wait until you return to spread the word about your fabulous holiday.
8. Make privacy a high priority
Snooping and taking advantage of your social media posts is not the only way that criminals can exploit your lack of privacy. For one thing, your trash says a great deal about you. There are few better ways to tantalize a burglar than leaving the box from the flat screen TV you just purchased outside next to your garbage barrel. Instead, take a few minutes to hide it out of sight. Better yet, put it in your car and drive it to the nearest recycling station.
Another way that evil-doers learn details about you is by peeking in your windows. Often from the comfort of their own cars, they can not only tell if you’re home but can also see that your new laptop is within easy reach of your living-room window. Drawing your blinds only takes a second, and it removes a great deal of temptation from the greedy eyes of would-be burglars.
9. Install a Home Security System
Home security systems can serve two purposes. First, they can function as a deterrent, particularly if you display signs in your yard warning potential intruders that the house is being monitored. Second, home security systems can be a crucial fail-safe should the worst happen and someone enter your home. At the first indication of a breach, the system will emit a piercing noise that, in and of itself, is often enough to scare away a would-be burglar. Then, if the security code is not entered quickly, most systems contact law enforcement. If you’re really lucky, they just might catch the person in the act of escaping.
In the past, many homeowners were reluctant to install home security devices because they were quite expensive. However, you have a wide variety of options at your disposal today. Sure, you can obtain a system with all the bells and whistles that is put in for you by the vendor at a premium price. However, there are also excellent wireless systems that you can easily install yourself. Best of all, they are available at a very affordable price.
Considering the cost of what you could lose if you were robbed, a system such as this may well be one of the best investments you ever make.
Your home is your castle. Few things are more upsetting than having your sacred space violated by a heartless criminal. While you can never totally eliminate your chances of being robbed, taking these steps can go a long way toward protecting the people and possessions you love.