Your home is your sanctuary. It’s where you share meals and quality time with the family. It’s also where you keep your most precious keepsakes and valuables. Naturally, no one wants uninvited visitors in their home, and while most people think they’re not a target consider this: a burglary occurs approximately every 18 seconds in the United States, according to data from the FBI. While people may believe they’re taking proper precautions to avoid break-ins, not everyone knows some of simple things they can do to prevent theft.
Don’t become another statistic; follow these steps to protect your home and your valuables.
Use Your Locks
This one may seem a bit obvious but many people simply forget to lock their doors. The most common entry point for a burglar is through the front door, and while some will kick in a door or use another forceful entry method, about 30 percent of burglars walk right through an unlocked door.
A serious-looking or heavy-duty lock, like a mortise lock which has a standard lock and a deadbolt, may prevent a criminal from even trying to enter your home and can withstand most forceful entry attempts. Only about one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry, so simply having an intimidating lock can keep some potential burglars from trying to enter your home.
Note: Avoid using overly obvious key-hiding strategies like putting your key under the doormat or in a hide-a-key. If you must keep a spare key nearby, consider a lock box or try stashing it somewhere that’s not right next to your front door, like behind an outdoor grill or air conditioning unit.
Get a Security System
If you’re worried that a security system will cost you lots of money, remember, it’s more expensive and time-consuming to replace lost or damaged items. Plus, an alarm system is one of the best ways to keep burglars from attempting to break in. According to a survey, 60 percent of burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether.
Installation for a home security system usually costs about $100, but there may be additional startup fees including equipment costs and activation. After that, most people pay around $30 in monthly charges, depending on the company, for monitoring services and maintenance.
A traditional home security system is no longer your only option. There are lots of wireless security systems that are much more cost effective because you can choose the items you need. You can combine wireless components to build a safe DIY security system. Whether you want to do it yourself or go the old-fashioned route, shop around for quotes and security accessories.
Don’t Leave Valuables in Plain Sight
When a burglar enters your home, he wants to find cash, jewelry, electronics or other valuables he can sell, as quickly as possible, and make a break for it. Most burglars start with the master bedroom and rifle through dresser drawers or closets, according to data from KGW News. If you make it harder to find valuable items, you reduce the risk of them getting stolen. A burglar generally only wants to spend between eight to 12 minutes in your home.
To make it harder to find your valuable items, consider creative hiding spots like a fake wall outlet, mis-labeled boxes in the garage, or inside a house plant. You can also get a floor safe to lock up your valuables, just make sure it’s not easy to transport so the burglar doesn’t just take the whole safe.
Make Them Think Someone is Home
While movies and TV shows depict robbers as masked villains who stalk the night, the majority of break-ins actually occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., while people are at school or work. There are a number of things you can do to make it look like someone’s home. Install timed or motion-activated lights or security cameras or set-up a wireless monitoring system. Motion-activated lights will turn on when someone approaches the house, giving the illusion that someone is home.
Another inexpensive option is to keep the radio or TV on during the day, which may make a burglar think the house isn’t empty. Lastly, you can get a dog to protect your house.
Call the Police
Yes, you can call the police if your home is broken into, but you can also use your local police department to help you prevent break-ins. Call the office near you and have them send an officer to your house to do a free safety inventory. They can point out any red flags and help you take proper precautions to prevent break-ins.
You can also let the police know if you will be out of town or gone for an extended period of time. They may be able to drive by your house to make sure it’s safe while you’re gone.
Use Your Landscape Strategically
Burglars are more likely to target houses with coverage like bushes and shrubs; they want to make sure they have a place to hide. Trim your shrubs and bushes so a potential thief can’t hide behind them.
This will also increase the visibility in your yard, so your neighbors will be able to spot any suspicious activity around your home.
Outsmarting a thief is easier than you think. Use these steps to protect your home and keep your family and your possessions safe.