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Protect Your Home with Our Guide to Burglary Prevention

October 8, 2013

Residential burglary is one of the most frequently reported crimes to police.  In fact, the most common threat to a home is burglary.  According to the FBI, a home is burglarized somewhere in the United States every 15.4 seconds. The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the day while parents and children are away at work or school.  With kids recently back in school, your home is left unattended more often, and burglars are on the prowl.  After all, burglaries aren’t random. These criminals follow a selection process, as they are looking for unoccupied homes with the easiest access, greatest amount of cover, and best escape routes.

 

Protecting your home from criminal intrusion should be a top priority!  It doesn’t cost much to outsmart burglars who are simply looking to take advantage of an easy target.  Follow these steps to minimize your risk and protect your home.

 

  1. Locks and Doors – It is imperative that you use available tools to your advantage that make your home difficult to enter.  A burglar will not target a home that takes too much effort or requires more skill or tools than they possess.
  • Garage door and back doors are often the weakest entry points and provide criminals with the most cover.  Keep your car locked, even if it is in the garage, as burglars know to look for keys to the home in them.
  • Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors that resist twisting, prying or lock picking.
  • Ensure you have a quality, heavy duty deadbolt lock, as well, and a quality door knob-in-lock set.  These inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers that are used to shear off lock cylinder pins and prevent slipping the lock open with a credit card of shim.
  • Use solid core or metal door for all entry points.  These doors are harder to kick in.
  • Upgrade to a heavy duty, 4-screw strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame.  The most common method of forced entry is to kick the door open, and the weakest part of the door is the strike plate which is often secured only by soft-wood door jamb molding, easy to tear away with a kick.  This upgrade alone will prevent most forced entry through the door.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with blocking devices, like bars or a broomstick.  Ensure door rollers are in good condition and properly adjusted, as well.
  • Place decals on doors to disclose your home is protected by an alarm or watch dog.  Burglars don’t want to be noticed or caught, so this alone could deter them from breaking into your home.
  • Always lock your doors, even if you’re only leaving for a few minutes.
  • Don’t leave a house key under your mat or flower pot.  This is the first place a burglar looks for entry.

 

  1. Windows:  Windows are left unlocked or open at a very high rate, which is often visible from the street, and can be the sole reason for your home to be selected by intruders.
  • Keep windows closed while you are away from the home and locked.  Ensure you have good locks, especially at ground level.  When using windows for ventilation, ensure they are not open more than six inches.
  • Secure your windows with blocking devices, as windows have latches rather than locks.  Make sure the blocking device can not be removed if left open. Also, if left open, ensure there is no capability to reach in and unlock a door or window themselves.
  • Use anti-life devices to prevent a window from being lifted out.
  • Place decals on your windows that indicate crime prevention or security.

 

  1. Lighting:  Good lighting is a major deterrent to criminals because they don’t want to be seen or caught.  Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of life and activity inside your home, even while you are away.  Whether you are out of town or out to dinner, no lights send a message to criminals that you are out of town.  These tips can help:
  • Buy light timers.  They are inexpensive and should be used daily, not just when you’re away.  Place them by front and back windows behind closed curtains.  Time different lights to create a pattern of lights turning on and off to simulate occupancy.
  • Timers can also be used to turn on TVs and radios.
  • Exterior lighting is crucial, as well!  With a well lit perimeter and entry, you and your neighbors can see any threats or suspicious people lurking around.  Exterior lights should be bright enough to see 100 feet.
  • Don’t leave garage and porch lights on all day.  This is a dead giveaway that you are out of town.
  • Get security lights with infra-red motion sensors.

 

  1. Alarm Systems:  Alarm systems instill greater fear in intruders due to the increased potential of being caught; thus, deterring them from intruding your home.
  • Place security signs in your front yard and decals on windows and doors.  Burglars will choose homes without these signs and decals, so if you have an alarm system, display the proof!
  • Don’t write your alarm pass code on or near the alarm keypad.
  • Ensure that your system is properly installed and maintained, and see to it that it has an audible alarm bell or horn.
  • Talk to your neighbors.  Let them know when you will be gone, and give them permission to let in police, call locksmith or window repair, and other details you will want taken care of while you are gone.
  • Keep your alarm response call list updated.

 

  1. Know Your Neighbors:  Concerned neighbors are a great defense against crime.  Tell a trusted neighbor when you’re leaving your home, when you are coming back, your itinerary, phone numbers, and key so that they remain on guard.  If you have not yet established relationships with your neighbors, try these tips:
  • Invite adjacent neighbors to your home to establish trust.
  • Nurture your relationship by doing small tasks for each other.
  • Communicate often.
  • Once you have established solid relationships, agree to watch out for each other’s homes.
  • When away, have them pick up newspapers, mail and flyers from the yard.  Invite them to park cars in your driveway to make occupancy look visible.

 

  1. Buy a Home Safe:  Safes continue to become more and more affordable, and were designed to prevent burglars, kids, babysitters, housekeepers and dishonest guests from acquiring access to your important documents or personal property.  Protect your belongings in a safe, and follow these tips to keep the safe secure.
  • Anchor your safe into the floor.
  • Use it every day so that it becomes routine.
  • Protect your safe code, and change it occasionally.
  • Install it away from the master bedroom or closets.

 

  1. Inventory and Identify Your Belongings:  These tips are useful when reporting stolen assets to insurance or being notified if your items are recovered.
  • Engrave your drivers’ license on your TV, stereo, computers and small electronic devices.
  • Photograph and record serial numbers of your valuables (helpful for insurance claims).
  • Photocopy any content in your wallet, as well as other important documents.  Store copies in your safe, safety deposit, or with trusted relatives.

 

  1. Lawn, Garage and Driveway Tips:  Remember, an intruder will select a home that has limited visibility, easy access points, and doesn’t require too much time or tools to enter.  Follow these tips to ensure your home is not a desirable selection.
  • Trim your bushes and trees that hide doors and windows.
  • Maintain your yard.  Keep ladders and tools away when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t leave your garage door open.  Keep your garage door locked, no matter if it is attached or detached, to hinder criminals from acquiring certain tools and ladders needed to enter your home.
  • If you park outside of your garage, don’t leave the garage opener in your car.  It is crucial to secure your garage as well as your home.

 

  1. Community Tips:  There are a number of ways you can get your community involved to eliminate crime throughout your neighborhood.  By working together, you can maintain safer streets for you and your family.
  • Be alert to things in the community that invite crime, and work with your community and law enforcement to solve these problems.
  • Report abandoned houses, non working street lights, and other problems that facilitate crime.
  • Start or join a neighborhood watch group.  This is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to reduce crime and prevent fear.
  • Alert law enforcement to any suspicious activity.
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