A highly-motivated burglar will break into your home if they really want to—the goal is to get them not to want to, or at least to decide it’s not worth the effort or risk and move on to another target. Aside from expensive, high-tech security measures, here are some pointers to make your home less attractive to those who might hone in on your location to rob.
Get a dog
Having a dog who is trained to bark at (and possibly attack) intruders is an obvious deterrent, however evidence exists that any dog’s presence can make your home less appealing for a break-in. Big dogs like German Shepherds and Rottweilers are the most intimidating, but even a small dog can bite, and moreover cause a loud ruckus when they are barking. The last thing burglars want is to draw attention to themselves, and a barking dog does just that.
If having dog is too much of a commitment, there are recordings of dogs barking that can be triggered by a motion detector or a doorbell at your home. While not as effective as a live dog, they can be helpful.
Having a dog does not guarantee that your home won’t be targeted, but statistically it makes it much less likely, even according to convicted criminals.
When planning a robbery, burglars are looking for homes where no one is home. Having a light or two on inside is a good idea; use a timer if you are going to be away for an extended period.
Outside flood lights are very effective impediments to burglars. Make sure to install motion-detector lights outside at corners and in areas where a potential thief might try to hide or case a house without being seen. A well-lit house is not an ideal target for a burglary.
Maintain a well-trimmed yard
Long, untrimmed grass and overgrown hedges indicate to outsiders that either a) the house is unoccupied and thus unmonitored, or b) this is a homeowner who is not diligent in caretaking in general, so may be lax in securing the house in other ways. Make sure to keep your yard well-groomed, even when you are out of town, to give the appearance that someone is present and paying attention to comings and goings.
Conversely, although a beautifully landscaped yard with flowers and bushes is lovely to behold, be aware that large hedges and trees can offer hiding places for would-be housebreakers.
Protect your home when you are away
Vacations are prime time for houses to be burglarized, especially in this era of social media. A large percentage of break-ins are committed by people who are at least peripherally acquainted with their victims. If you are posting on several sites that you are enjoying a week in Mexico, it makes the fact that your house is sitting empty abundantly clear. Go ahead and post all those beautiful vacation photos on social media, but do it after you have arrived safely back home.
Other things to do to safeguard your property in your absence
- Stop your mail and newspapers. A build-up of unclaimed periodicals littering your driveway is a flag to thieves that no one is around
- Keep one car parked in your driveway while you are away, or have a neighbor park his or her car there while you are gone. The movement of the car is another good way to give the impression that someone is at home
- Set lights to timers both inside and outside the house, and don’t necessarily adhere to a daytime/nighttime schedule. Make it appear random if you have the capability
- Keep your yard maintenance current while you are gone; a burglar casing your neighborhood won’t know if the person mowing the lawn is you or someone you hired
Don’t advertise your valuables
Having nice things is fantastic; the reason you work hard is to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and even more reason not to embolden a thief to steal your possessions. Most burglars are not seasoned professionals, but rather impulsive criminals who want to get in and get out quickly with high-value items like cash, jewelry, computers and firearms. Lock up these items and keep them out of plain sight, especially if your home is regularly visited by service people (Note that most service providers and house cleaners are completely trustworthy—it just makes sense to take precautions in the off-chance that there is one bad apple in the bunch.).
Keep televisions, gaming systems, computers, and other expensive equipment out of the range of windows, or conceal the view with blinds or curtains. If you regularly purchase items like this, immediately dispose of the boxes where they can’t be readily seen.
Consider storing jewelry and other expensive items in a place other than the bedroom; burglars often hit that room first. A safe hidden in another room is yet another deterrent to the quick, smash-and-grab type break-in that is most common.
- Always change the locks on your doors when moving in to a new home
- Do not keep an extra key under your doormat, in your mailbox, or on top of your doorway trim. If you must hide a key, make sure it’s concealed well, perhaps in a box or wrapped in foil, and place in a location that is extremely difficult to find and only known by your family members
- Make sure door hinges are internal. Pins on doors can be easily taken out and doors removed
- If you have a security system, consider putting a sign in a window or in your yard indicating such. That’s all it takes to dissuade many burglars
Being diligent about making your home unattractive to burglars is really the bottom line. It’s a shame to have to think that way, and there can be a tendency to start thinking that nowhere is safe, and the need to be so careful signals the breakdown of modern society. None of these things are true. Try to keep the actual statistics in perspective, you will most likely never be the victim of a crime, but your chances of being one dramatically go down if you take just a few extra measures causing criminals to think twice before going after your home.
What have you put in place at your home? Comment below and let me know. Or feel free to ask me any questions.