Every 14.6 seconds, a home is robbed. According to statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the average dollar loss per burglary is over $2,000.
With the national economy getting worse, burglary is becoming a more common crime. But, it doesn’t take much to get the thieves to leave your house alone. What can you do to stay safe?
- Lock windows and doors – I was surprised to read that many people don’t. Of all reported burglaries, 33.2 percent were unlawful entries (without force) – the house wasn’t even locked.
- Close and lock your garage door. It’s easy to break in from your garage. Many interior doors between the garage and your home aren’t as strong as exterior doors and may not have deadbolts. Also, once inside the garage, a burglar can use your tools to break into your home, out of sight of the neighbors.
- Close shades and curtains in the evening. One way thieves decide where to strike is simply by window shopping. Close the blinds so they won’t see what you have.
- Don’t hide spare keys. Burglars know about fake rocks and statues and will check under doormats, in mailboxes, and over doorways. Make sure everyone in the family has a spare key and give a spare set to a neighbor.
- Don’t store ladders outdoors or in unlocked sheds. These can be used to reach the roof and upper floor windows.
- Don’t rely on silent alarm systems. We all hate noisy alarms, so do burglars. Smart thieves know it can take 10 to 20 minutes for the alarm company or cops to show up after an alarm has been tripped. It’s best to have both silent and audible alarms.
- Cut back overgrown landscaping. Tall hedges and shrubs near the house create hiding spots. Overhanging branches can be a way to access upper decks or your roof.
- Light up your house. Poor or absent exterior lighting allows dark and shadows where burglars can work unobserved.The best solution are fixtures with motion sensors or light sensors that go on automatically in response to motion. The sudden light not only scares away intruders but alerts you and your neighbors as well.
- Set indoor timers. Timers can run from about $5 to $40, depending on their function. A basic plug-in unit can turn a light on and off once or twice a day. Wired digital outlet switches can turn lights on at a number of set or random times. You can even set TV’s or radios to turn on and off. Set light timers to go on 30 – 45 minutes before dark so it looks like someone is in the house. While on vacation, have them go off at random times when you’d normally go to bed.
- Secure sliding doors. Most are easy to jiggle free of locks and slide open easily. Put a dowel down in the channel so the door can’t be opened.
- Have secure exterior doors. Sixty percent of all burglaries take place at ground floor doors and windows. All entry doors should be solid wood or steel-wrapped wood-core doors.
- Install deadbolts. Especially on a door with a glass section or located near a window. With a deadbolt, if the glass is broken and someone tries to reach in to open the door, they won’t be able to. There are two main types of deadbolts: single and double cylinder locks. A single cylinder deadbolt has a keyed opening on one side and a knob that can be turned by hand on the other. A double cylinder deadbolt lock is keyed on both sides.
- Don’t rely on your dog barking dog. Serious burglars know dogs may back away from someone wielding a weapon, or get chummy if offered a treat laced with a tranquilizer. Better to make your home look occupied with timers that turn electronics on and off in random patterns.
- Watch what you throw out. Don’t advertise your brand new flat-screen, computer or other big-ticket item by putting boxes at the curb with your trash. Break down boxes into small pieces and bundle them so you can’t tell what was inside.
- Never post vacation info on Facebook. Burglars troll social media sites looking for targets. Wait until you get back before sharing vacation details.
- Stop deliveries. When out of town, be sure to stop your mail and newspapers. At the very least, have a neighbor pick them up for you daily. Nothing says, “we’re not here” like deliveries piling up!
What can you add?