One of the easiest crimes to prevent — burglary — is also one of the most common. Somewhere in the U.S. there’s a burglary committed every 15 seconds.
There are a lot of things you can do to boost home security and make your house burglary-resistant. Beyond tried and true advice like never (ever) leave doors or windows unlocked, and never hide a key to your house outside where it can be easily found, here are tips you can use to help you keep your family safe and your home and its contents intact.
Know Your Neighbors & Local Police
The best home security comes from neighbors who look out for one another. Make it a point to meet your neighbors so that you can ask them to keep an eye on things while you’re away. If your neighborhood does not already have a neighborhood watch program, consider organizing one.
Many local police departments maintain something called a “vacant house list” when you travel for an extended period of time. Police will drive by and check on your house when you’re gone. If a criminal knows the police are watching your house, most won’t want to take the chance of breaking in.
Make Your Home Unappealing to Them
The first thing a burglar looks for when choosing a house for a break-in is one with no one in it. If you make your house look occupied when you’re gone, most burglars will simply pass it by. Here are some ways to do that.
Use automatic light timers throughout the house and have them turn on and off in a way that simulates your normal patterns. Look for light timers that have battery backup so the timer doesn’t stop if there is a power failure. Using timers that have more than one on-off cycle can create the illusion of movement from room to room.
Don’t advertise new, expensive items, like a flat-screen TV or new computer, by putting out the boxes early. Keep all that stuff in the garage or inside until garbage day.
Don’t leave mail piled up in the mailbox if you’re away. Ask a neighbor to collect it daily.
Shrubs can make a great deterrent to getting into the house, but keep them low enough to make sure burglars can’t hide there, and that your neighbors can see what’s going on in your yard. Consider thorny shrubs or rose bushes to add an extra deterrent. Trim back or remove any shrubbery next to doors or windows.
Close the blinds when you’re not home so they can’t peruse the items in your house and decide you have something worth stealing.
Consider Alarm Systems
Alarm systems are more expensive than the other tips, but if you live in a particularly vulnerable neighborhood you may still want to consider one. They are not a guarantee, but they can certainly give a potential thief reason to move on.
They are one of the best defenses, and you can get a system for about $50 to $100 a month. Check with the Better Business Bureau before picking an alarm company.
But burglaries don’t have to happen. Be smart and be safe. It isn’t a guarantee, but it can certainly be a deterrent.