You’re going out of town or heading off to work, but there’s still a nagging thought at the back of your mind – have you made your home safe enough? Over 1.5 million burglaries took place in the U.S. in 2016, and approximately 70 percent of them occurred in residential properties. Thieves are usually looking for an easy target, so here are some ways to make your home a less attractive mark for burglars.
You might be surprised to learn that many burglars gain access to homes without using any special tools. According to a 2015 report issued by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 35.5 percent of burglaries were unlawful entries where no force was used, meaning that thieves were able to access residences through unlocked doors and windows or managed to locate a spare key. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there is also an 11% increase in burglary rates during the summer, so keep this in mind the next time you decide to leave your door or patio door open for some fresh air.
Take precautions by installing a dead-bolt lock to every exterior-facing door. Before you leave the house, remember to also check that the door in your garage leading into your home is also locked since this is a common point of entry for thieves. Don’t hide any spare keys outside your house as burglars often check common hiding places such as under the doormat or inside the mailbox.
You can make landscaping choices that serve as DIY home security to help discourage thieves from targeting your home. Shrubs are not just a nice decorative feature for your yard – they can also acts as deterrents that block entry into your house. You’ll want to trim them low enough so that any potential thieves will not be able to use the shrubs as a hiding place and so that neighbors and passersby will be able to spot any suspicious activity going on outside your house. Safety experts recommend the “three-foot-by-six-foot rule” of keeping shrubs and plants trimmed down to three feet tall. Tree branches should be kept six feet from the ground so that thieves cannot climb them and gain access to any second-story windows. Consider planting prickly shrubs or rose bushes as further deterrents.
An important part of home security is making it look like your house is occupied even when no one is home. Burglars are usually not looking for a confrontation, and a survey of convicted burglars found that 60 percent of them would think twice about targeting a home where the lights were on inside. Install lights with motion sensors all around the exterior of your house and consider placing timers on your interior lights to provide the illusion that there is someone at home when you head to the office or go out of town.
In the previously mentioned survey, two-thirds of the burglars said that if they saw a security camera placed outside a home, it would discourage them from trying to enter. Even dummy cameras can act as a deterrent. Consider placing a highly visible sign in your yard or a sticker on your windows to remind any potential thieves that you have a security system in place and that they are being watched. Many home security systems will allow you to remotely monitor a live feed so that you’ll be able to keep an eye on your home even when you’re not there.
On a related note, keeping your neighbors notified when you’re out of town can also provide additional security. They can watch for any suspicious activity and check in on your house, providing you with peace of mind. Any would-be burglars casing your residence will take note of the neighbors who are coming and going and may back off.
The most important thing to remember is that burglars are generally looking for easy targets. Whether it’s using landscaping as an obstacle or simply locking your doors and windows, anything that acts as a physical deterrent will help disincentivize burglars.