Ever since the general population adopted deadbolt locks back in the 60’s and 70’s, home burglary has seen a steady decline, especially with the more recent introduction of electronic home security monitoring. Nevertheless, over a million homes are burglarized in some fashion every year. Here are a few key steps you can take to help deter a would-be burglar.
Don’t Put Your Belonging on Public Display
If you leave certain things in the yard or in plain view from the driveway, you might as well be putting out tasty bait for a thief. Bicycles or other things that someone can easily walk away with should always be put inside the house or garage, especially when no one is at home. In some cases you don’t even have to leave an actual item outside, but only evidence that you have an item, such as placing the empty box to a brand new TV at the curb.
Leave Lights On
When you and your family leave the house, make sure to leave at least a couple interior lights on while you are away. This can give the appearance that someone is still at home, and a burglar will be less likely to target that house.
An electronic security system is a thief’s worst nightmare, and they will (in most cases) pass up an opportunity to break-in if they see evidence of such a system. Even if your home is not equipped with a security system, placing a home security sign or sticker at your door is all the evidence most burglars need to stay away.
Secure Sliding Doors and windows
While the design of newer sliding glass doors has been improved in recent years, some older sliding glass doors can be easily bypassed by removing them from the frame. In a matter of minutes a thief can have the door completely popped off and be in your home to plunder it. Newer sliding doors are a bit more difficult, but they may still be bypassed, so make sure to always keep them secured with some sort of dowel or even a two-by-four wedged into the back groove. This will physically prevent the door from sliding even if the lock has been picked (or if you forgot to lock it).
Windows are one of the primary entry points for burglars. It is sometimes difficult to always remain mindful of window locks, but they must stay secured. As an added measure, you can insert a strong metal pin in the sash of the window (where the top and bottom portions meet) to prevent it from being opened. You can remove the pin from the inside when it’s time to open the window. Even a nail can be driven into the frame to prevent the window opening more than a small crack. Window A/C units can also serve as easy access to a criminal. Be sure to secure them tightly, and add a stopper to the frame if the window easily raises.
One thing may families and individuals do is leave a spare copy of the house key outside under a welcome mat, under an ashtray or flower pot, etc. If a thief has targeted your home, there is a fairly good chance they will check for a spare key before going any further. Someone may also observe you taking the key from it’s hiding place, in which case you could be instantly compromised. If you wish to keep a spare key outside, at the very least place it in some sort of container secured with a strong lock. Another option is to leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor or nearby friend instead.
It is important to maintain the appearance that you are still living in the home, even if you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away having a blast. Arrange for a friend or family member to pick up your mail so it doesn’t pile up, don’t alert callers you are on vacation by changing your answering machine (keep it generic), and if your local police will oblige, have an officer take a quick glance at your property to make sure everything looks squared away.
Most importantly, always be on the lookout for anything suspicious in your area, and don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement of you see anything out of the ordinary. When you leave your house, always lock the doors, and secure deadbolts where possible. Some heightened awareness and extra effort on your part can play a big role in maintaining the security of your home and valuables and the safety of you and your family.