Crime of Opportunity: How to Reduce the Chance of a Burglary

by Jenn

Most homeowners have at least some level of concern about home security and safety. However, law enforcement and security consultant research always tells us that the vast majority of homeowners are unprepared or under-prepared with whatever means (if any) they’re taking to secure their property against thieves and burglars.

It may be worries over the expense of security. It may be a matter of wishful thinking (“we chose a safe neighborhood”, etc). Whatever the reasons are, homeowners tend to be woefully vulnerable to break-ins. The trauma and the financial harm that can be inflicted on homeowners and their families by break-ins is terrible, and better steps ought to be taken to thwart burglars’ efforts.

Let’s look at ways of securing your whole property that you might not have thought of…

Security System – Alright, this is the most obvious one to most people. Your security system should be wireless and it should include service by an independent monitoring station. But what’s really the most important part of your security system? The signs warning would-be burglars that your home has such a system in place. And what you should do is ask your system provider for a few extra signs so that you can put them in various places all around your property. The sign is the great deterrent, and you want burglars to see it. You can even find “video surveillance” signs to post. Whether you actually have a camera installed is beside the point.

Burglars know that a security system mostly just means they have to work faster. Better that they chose to skip your property than get in and out in 30 seconds with your TV and laptop while the alarm is sounding.

Hide Any External Wiring – Burglars go for this to cut off your security system, telephone, lighting, and so on. They also may try to steal the wiring if it’s copper — copper is very valuable on the market. Don’t leave any wiring exposed to their eyes and clippers.

If There’s a Bustle in Your Hedgerow… chances are that it’s a burglar scouting out your house or preparing to break in. Hedges close by a house are thieves’ favorite places to hide. So, don’t surround your house with hedges and trees. Place these out near the road or the other edges of your property, and keep the immediate edges and borders of your house (and your detached garage) clear.

Do Not Hide Your Spare Door Keys Outside – Not in fake rocks, under the doormat, in your mailbox, or in the doorframe. These clever methods of key concealing aren’t clever anymore, they are old hat and well-known to any burglar. Think of a much less common place, as far away from the front or back doors as possible, to hide your house keys (burglars do not want to go hunting around your property looking for the key), or leave a set with a trusted neighbor.

Invest in an Automatic Lighting System that either comes on automatically at a pre-set time, is automatically triggered by a motion-sensor (for the outdoors areas around your house and garage), and/or one you can remotely control when you’re out. Most simple timers are easy to find and inexpensive, as are motion-sensors you can add to just about any outdoor light.

Don’t Store Valuable Things (Other than Your Cars) Inside Your Garage – Burglars feel safer trying to pilfer stuff from a garage because they know that people are usually less vigilant about monitoring its security. Also, get a special “secure door” for your garage and install windows that can be locked.

Amazingly, many thefts start with an open garage door and even an unlocked door into the house! No one expects a stranger to walk right in, and that’s why it happens all the time. How easy would it be for a burglar to walk into your garage and ride away on an expensive bike while you’re inside the house? Close your garage door. Every time. And if your garage is not fully secure, install a security door into your house so that your garage doesn’t serve as a hidden entry point with just a flimsy door inside.

What’s Next to Your Windows? If valuable things such as electronics can be easily seen through your windows, that means anyone can see them, not just you and your honest friends. Hang curtains or else move your valuable things away from easy view.

Additionally, if a burglar can scope out your house just by walking around and looking in the windows, he’s going to feel a lot more comfortable knowing what’s in there and whether you’re around. Be sure the entire interior of your house is not on display.

Thieves Prefer Day Jobs – If you’re fortunate enough to work from an office inside your home or otherwise find yourself home during the day, your presence is a great defense, since most thefts happen during the day. That also means that if you work away from home, don’t lull yourself with the idea that burglars only come out at night. Most burglars are like other people: they prefer sleeping or spending their (ill-gotten) gains by night.

Lock Your Doors and Windows – Well, duh! But you would be shocked at how many people just don’t do this. Burglars are seeking the easiest and fastest way in and out of your house, and unlocked doors or windows are their number one targets. Don’t be stingy about investing some extra money in getting more secure door looks and better locking windows. And then — just do it!

Many homeowners, when asked to check all their windows and doors are often surprised to learn that at least one entry point has been left unlocked or even open.

If You Buy a Gun for Self Defense, definitely invest in shooting and gun maintenance lessons, and regularly go to a shooting range. This is for your safety and the safety of your family. If you’re not going to do those things, don’t buy the gun. Even police officers who practice consistently often miss their targets, and it’s only a help in the rarest of confrontations– not the vast majority of home break-ins.

Your Huge, Ferocious Dogs Don’t Keep You Safe – Dogs are definitely a deterrent because of the noise and possible danger they present to intruders. However, dogs can also have their loyalties bought with raw steak or even a friendly voice and a pat. They can also be locked out of the house, giving the burglar perfect cover to take his time. Don’t tell yourself that all you need are your dogs to keep your property safe.

No one solution is going to reduce all your risk, but the more adjustments you make, the safer you’ll be. Burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Your best protection is to avoid being an easy target.

Tommy Mello owns www.phoenixazgaragedoorrepair.com in Phoenix, Arizona. He enjoys sharing garage improvement ideas and maintenance tips.

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1 comment

lisa October 23, 2013 - 11:58 am

Those are all good tips. It’s also important to let someone know before going on vacation so they can keep an eye on the house.

Reply

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