Finding your home broken into can be a frightening experience. Being the victim of a robbery can violate your sense of security and peace in your home. It can cost you financially, but more important is the cost to your emotional well-being.
Learning how to take precautions can help you avoid loss of your possessions and trust in your safety. While making your home burglarproof is not foolproof, you can make it less likely for burglars to target your home.
7 Safe Doors
Securing your house against burglars is essential. Door security goes beyond just locking your door. Having good habits and knowing what type of door to buy are also good safety practices.
For example, many homeowners endanger themselves by hiding extra keys on their property. While it is frustrating to lose keys, burglars know how to find most hidden key areas, such as fake rocks. Leave extra keys with someone you trust and can easily reach in case of an emergency. Invest in a home automation system where you don’t need keys, but can lock and unlock your doors anywhere. This update can help you avoid the issue of keys altogether.
Another security measure is to make sure your doors are strong and cannot be broken. Install doors of solid wood, fiberglass, or steel. Choose solid core wood doors instead of cheaper doors made from wood veneer and hollow cores. Wood veneer doors are easier to kick in and damage than solid core doors made from solid oak or walnut wood.
Fiberglass is a material made from fine glass fibers bonded together with resin. These are strong doors resistant to cracking, denting, and warping.
Solid steel doors are a good choice for exterior doors because steel is very strong and can withstand tampering and damage. Make sure you buy solid steel, not steel made from two panels bonded together.
Keeping doors locked also refers to garage doors. Always keep garage doors shut. Burglars routinely look for open garage doors to gain entry into your house, even if you are at home. Storage sheds are not entry points for burglars, but these can contain tools that a criminal can use to get into your house. Remember to lock garage doors and storage units when you leave the house.
6 Safe Windows
Burglars can get through windows that are not secure, which is why they are prime targets for burglars. Securing your windows is an important part of your home safety plan. This not only applies to ground floor windows, but also to second and third-floor windows. Burglars can often reach them from overhanging trees or from unsecured ladders. Cut back trees and secure equipment in outdoor sheds with locks.
Window locks are useful to deter illegal home entry. There are several types of window locks, such as sash, key, and flip locks that will help you be safe in your home. Flip locks are easy to install and inexpensive, but are easier to break than sash or key locks. Key locks are an effective deterrent, but are not useful if you regularly misplace things. They also pose a safety hazard if there is a fire or another emergency where you have to leave the house quickly. Always have an alternative emergency escape route if you have keyed windows.
Other ways you can block windows is to install steel locking pins that can be put through frames to prevent vertically-sliding windows from being opened. Wooden dowels placed in window tracks that slide vertically can be useful in preventing illegal entry.
Breaking a window is a common method burglars use to enter homes. Using burglar-resistant glass, such as tempered, Plexiglas, polycarbonate, or laminated glass that is stronger than traditional glass, can help prevent theft. Wire mesh and bulletproof glass are available, but outside many homeowners' budgets.
Window sensor alarms and window bars are other deterrents for burglars. Make sure, if you use window bars, that you have an alternative escape route in case of fire or another emergency.
5 Landscaping and Safety
Landscaping should be a part of your home safety plan. Keep foundation shrubs and trees trimmed so there isn’t a cover for burglars to hide. Shrubs, trees, and gardens should be cut back so your house is visible from the street. Bushes shouldn’t be higher than three feet, and tree limbs, no lower than six feet.
Consider planting short, thorny bushes around your house for extra protection. Hawthorn makes a dense hedge that grows 20 to 25 feet high and has sharp thorns that can range from 1-5 inches long. Hardy Orange is often planted around prisons because it has lacerating thorns. Black Locust has a pair of thorns at the base of each leaf. Rose, Pyracantha, or Barberry, with three-spined thorns, also makes effective deterrents for burglars and other prowlers. Remember not to block the view of your driveway when planning safety gardening.
Lights deter burglars and other criminals. Leave lights on when you are away from the house or, for longer periods of time, put lights on timers. Illuminate your property to ensure all the outside lights work, including the patios. Install motion detector lights that can be timed to come on after sunset.
4 Vacation Safety
Leaving your house for an extended time can create an opportunity for burglars. Take safety precautions to make your house look as if you are still at home when you are gone.
Put radios, lights, and other electronics on timers. Set the timers so they do not go off at the same time every day. A lack of predictability can throw burglar plans. While the sound of radios or other electronics can be useful in fooling burglars that you are home, remember to turn down your phone ring, voice mail announcements, or answering machine. Make sure that your voice mail does not let callers know you are away. Instead, record a message that says you will get back to the caller shortly.
Don’t leave evidence that you are away, such as stopping the mail and newspaper services. Instead, post “No Trespassing” signs on your door, and report the offenders to the Better Business Bureau or your local consumer organization.
Ask a neighbor to pick up flyers that are left at your door. Neighbors are also useful in keeping your house looked after by mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or shoveling snow when you are on vacation.
Social media is another way people advertise that they on vacation. Avoid sharing that you are away because this information could make your home vulnerable to a break-in. Resourceful thieves can collect and correlate information from the Internet and target your home.
Wait until you have returned home to share vacation pictures and details about your adventures. If you cannot wait, learn how to use privacy settings in your social media so only family and friends can see what you post. Learn how to include or exclude certain groups or friends from, for example, your Facebook wall. Share more widely when you return home from your vacation.
3 Seller Scams
Never give money or personal information to strangers at the door. Strangers, who solicit door-to-door, may be burglars seeing if you have money on hand. They could also be trying to commit identity theft.
Beware of buying products or services at the door. You don’t know the person, or if the items for sale are genuine. Furthermore, if the items do not work as promised, you cannot return the products. “Once in a lifetime” or “today only” deals should tip you off to the product or service being a scam. “Buying now” is never a deal because you can’t comparison shop for better prices and customer service.
Ask for a flyer or website address for more information. Check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or with your local consumer organization to see if there have been any complaints against the vendors. Contact the police to report any criminal activities.
Safety, when you are at home, is as important as when you are away. Keep the doors and windows locked when you are at home, especially if you are at the opposite end of the house or in the yard. Look through a peephole or a safe window to see who is there before opening the door. Teach children not to open the door without an adult present.
Ask strangers to show identification to verify who they say they are. Shut the door and lock it while you go to the phone to call the utility for verification. Never let anyone in your house to use the phone in an “emergency.” Always offer to call for them and ask them to wait on the porch. Shut and lock the door behind you when you go to use the phone. Don’t leave the door unguarded while you are aiding someone because the person could open the door and steal valuables or harm you. Keep the phone number of the police near the telephone and invest in a cordless phone so you can take it with you when you go to the door.
1 Neighborhood Watch
It is not only important for you to be aware of what goes on in your house, but it’s also good to be aware of what goes on in your neighborhood. Meeting your neighbors and getting involved with a neighborhood watch group is an effective way to prevent crime.
The original neighborhood watch group, National Neighborhood Watch, is affiliated with the National Sheriffs’ Association that receives its initial grant money from the U.S. Department of Justice. The National Neighborhood Watch, in partnership with other criminal justice organizations and citizen groups, can offer support to those who want to create safety in their communities.
These neighborhood watch groups work with the local police or sheriff’s offices to report crime or suspicious activities. They also help neighbors clean up rundown areas, recruit members, sponsor information fairs on crime and substance abuse, and ask neighbors to be alert to suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. Watch groups in the National Neighborhood Watch should not take on the role of the police, but only report suspicious activities or crimes immediately to the police.
Being safe in your home is not a chore you have to take on alone. There are many resources to help, such as the police and neighborhood groups. Safety is more effective when there is strength in numbers. Collectively, you can create a secure home for you, your loved ones, and your community.