How to Make Your Home Safe From Break-Ins
Keeping your home and your possessions safe is likely at the top of your priority list. FBI crime report data states that there were 1,230,149 United States burglaries in 2018. These burglaries result in an average loss of $2,799 per break in, creating a shocking $3.4 billion in property loss.
So how can you secure your home from break-ins? The good news is that there are many actions that you can take to feel more secure in your home. After reading this article, take a few minutes to make sure that your home insurance and renters insurance coverage is sufficient in case of a break-in.
Protecting The Outside of Your Home
Think Like a Thief
Experts advise homeowners to take an interesting approach when securing their homes: Think like a thief! By thinking like a criminal, you will notice how you could be more secure.
Scouting the outside perimeter of your home, you may notice a window that could be used as an entrance or a vantage point where your valuables are visible. You can contact your local police department and request that they provide a courtesy home assessment to help you with the process of securing the entire perimeter of your home.
Install a Fence
If you do not already have one, a fence is helpful in deterring thieves from entering your backyard and inspecting your property more closely. You can purchase a lock to attach to your fence for extra security. When secured on the internal side of the door, it will be more difficult to cut loose with a bolt cutter.
Ensure that your fence is tall enough that it is not easy to jump over or scale. A fence that is secured into your home’s concrete foundation will prevent it from being liftable or broken down. Barbed wire fencing is an option to intimidate criminals, for homeowners who feel they need the extra layer of security and do not consider barbed wire an eyesore. If the barbed wire look doesn’t match with your home-design goals, you can opt for fencing that has sharp-pointed, aesthetically pleasing decorations.
Home security experts recommend adding a “Beware of Dog” sign to your fence, even if you do not own a dog. Dogs can be threatening to a home intruder, and this signage may prevent snooping near your fence to avoid alerting a perceived canine. Some people even add a dog bowl by the side door for an added realistic touch.
Bright Lights and Trimmed Shrubbery
Shrubbery and plants should be well maintained to avoid giving a perp a place to hide or providing cover for a criminal to sneak around your property. Menacing plants like thorny bushes or cactus may further intimidate criminals. Keeping the outside of your home well-lit helps to discourage burglaries. Motion sensor lights strategically placed at entrances will alert a burglar that he is in plain sight and make you feel more secure when entering your home at night.
If you rent, you can bring up your concerns to your landlord. If you have a HomeOwners Association (HOA) talk to them about increasing lighting on your street. If you own your home and do not have an HOA, you can contact the city about the street lights. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home, and you might even help prevent a burglary by voicing your concerns!
Neighborhood Watch and Cleanup
Introduce yourself and get to know your neighbors. If your neighbors see someone suspicious looking around your property, they are much more likely to contact you and the proper authorities if they are familiar with you. Your neighbors may have different schedules than you and can keep an eye on your place when you are at work, running errands or when you are on vacation.
You and your neighbors are indispensable assets in fighting and preventing crime in your community. You can establish a neighborhood watch and work to clean up the neighborhood together. A dirty neighborhood may be proof of neglect and fewer concerned occupants. Poorly maintained neighborhoods are often targets of burglaries. If you need help with the clean up process, you can contact your local public works department.
If you do decide to establish a neighborhood watch program, your local police may provide free instructional meetings. In these information sessions you may learn what suspicious activities to look out for and what actions to take in case of an auto or home burglary in progress.
Some police departments offer free informational material to display. Window stickers and signage are a clear indicator to criminals that they will be under extra surveillance while in your community.
Make Your Address Easily Identifiable
If your house numbers are worn or illegible, you should install large reflective numbers. Large reflective numbers make your home easily identifiable to law enforcement responding to a burglary at your residence. Burglars specifically look for darker homes with harder to read addresses because a hard-to-find address buys the burglar time to escape.
Remember to Protect Your Garage and Vehicles
The garage is a great place to store larger valuable items. If there are windows in your garage, curtains or window dressings will provide an added layer of privacy from peeping eyes. Never leave your garage door open while unattended, and remember to keep it locked. Storing items in the garage overnight like grills and toys is a good habit to develop. A thief may come to the conclusion that you have a lot of valuable items in your home based off a few items you’ve carelessly left outside. Or that criminal may even roll away with your grill!
Your vehicle is an important asset to protect. Vehicles parked in the driveway or in plain sight may tempt a criminal. Your car doesn’t have to be a luxury one to be stolen either. The most commonly vandalized cars are Honda Civics!
Always try to park in a well-lit area, and avoid leaving in plain sight any valuables that might lure a criminal to break into your car, such as purses, cell phones and GPS devices. Whether you have to park on the street or have a garage to store your car at night, remember to never leave an extra key to your home inside your car, even if you lock your car. Also, make sure you have comprehensive coverage, which covers vandalism and theft of cars. Take a few minutes to compare car insurance coverage to avoid paying too much.
Protecting The Inside of Your Home
Lock Up and Add Privacy
When you are moving into a new residence, make sure you change the locks right away. There is no way to know what copies may exist outside of the key possessed by the previous residents. If you are renting, ask your landlord if they have changed the locks before your arrival. Doors should have deadbolt locks installed.
Both your window and door locks should be strong, and regularly checked for strength in case they need to be updated. Installing metal bars or safety glass that is not easily broken adds an additional protective layer to small windows.
Privacy film may be applied to windows to block out view of your possessions to a lurking intruder. If you have children or live alone it is especially helpful so that a potential intruder cannot pry into your living situation.
Reinforce sliding doors with vertical bolts. Adding a wooden or metal rod to the sliding glass door track can provide leverage and prevent doors being lifted off the track or forced open by criminals.
Stay vigilant about locking all windows and doors, even when you are home.
It is common to hide a spare key around the outside of your home, and thieves are well aware of that. An extra key under a mat or in the gravel may easily be found by a home intruder. Leaving a spare with a neighbor or in a combination lockbox located in a nondescript place are better options.
Set Up a Home Security System
Home security systems allow you to watch your property at all times. They provide coverage from multiple angles and footage that can be recorded and viewed while you are away from home. There are sensors available to attach to specific windows and doors, as well as motion detectors you can install. Alarms sounding off can scare off intruders and alert yourself and neighbors to a criminal’s presence. Many alarms will also automatically contact your local emergency services for help!
Some people who do not want to or cannot afford to purchase a home security system may opt to purchase decoy security cameras and sensors. There are also fake security systems signages for sale that you can put up in your front porch and yard to convey the illusion to a criminal that you do have an active security system. If you do purchase a real security system, make sure to request that signage so you can proudly display it outside your house!
Your television and the lights in your home may be helpful in deterring break-ins. Burglars often look for homes that are unoccupied and dark at night, or quiet during the daytime hours. Criminals want to avoid coming into contact with residents when breaking into a home. You may trick a criminal into thinking a resident is home by running your television when you are not home, or running a fake television simulator that you can purchase online. Leaving on lights can signal to a criminal to stay clear and provide the illusion of a present occupant. Light timers are inexpensive and easily accessible, and can be programmed to be on while you are at work or away on vacation.
Be Vacation Vigilant
Although protecting your home is always a main priority, it is even more important when you are on vacation. Burglars will specifically target homes that look as if their owners are away for an extended period of time.
A main indicator that you are on vacation is a build up of mail, advertisements or newspapers. A simple solution is to ask a neighbor to collect these materials and hold them for you. If you will be away for a while, you can put a temporary stop on your deliveries.
Remember to lock up and double check before you leave that common break-in points have been secured. You shouldn’t have your home look too closed up, as that could be an indicator that your home is unoccupied. Leave a couple of curtains open, and encourage your neighbors to leave some trash in your trashcan to avoid suspiciously empty trash bins.
A “lived in” look won’t bring unwanted attention. During the winter, have a neighbor pull into your driveway. and walk up to your front door to leave tracks in the snow. During the summer, hire someone to cut your grass and keep the place looking tidy.
Before going on vacation, there are a few areas where you can add extra protection. These include setting your light timers to make it look like someone is home and leaving a radio on to create the illusion of conversation and going-ons within your home. Additionally, you can help secure your garage by disconnecting the automatic opener to make it harder to lift.
Leave your contact information for your neighbors in case they see anything suspicious. If they can check inside your home periodically to make sure everything is safe and sound, that’s even better! Do not indicate on your home phone voicemail system that you are out of town because a criminal can easily try calling your landline to see if you’re home.
Avoid publicizing your trip on social media, especially if your profile is public. Criminals can easily find out your address with a public search. So have fun and enjoy yourself on your vacation, but wait to brag about it until you’re back home. Remember to make sure that your home insurance or renters insurance carries sufficient coverage for break ins, property damage and property loss today!
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