According to the FBI, burglars break in to a home or apartment once every 15 seconds. The risk that a burglary could happen to you is very real, no matter where you live. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to improve your home to prevent a burglary.
Your home’s security is only as good as its most vulnerable point of entry. Identifying these weak points is the first step for keeping you home and family safe from burglars. Here’s where to begin on burglary prevention in your home:
- Wandering Keys: The idea of handing your house key to a burglar may seem ridiculous, but that’s exactly what you could be doing every time you send a spare key floating among family, friends and service personnel. The key holders themselves may be trustworthy, but you can’t control the paths they may cross and the situations in which your key may be exposed to the risk of duplication. Be smart about issuing spares, and take care when you’re carrying your master set through everyday routines, such as valet drop-offs and auto shop visits. Finally, don’t ever hide spare keys in “secret” places outside your home, because burglars know which flowerpots to look under.
- Weak Locks: A door with a handle lock is an easy mark for a burglar armed with finesse and a plastic credit card. It’s important to install quality deadbolts at all entries. The best type of deadbolt lock is one offering keyed access on the outside and a thumb latch on the inside, providing exterior protection and a quick-response release in the event that the home’s residents need to make an emergency exit. New styles of deadbolts feature a locking mechanism that actually locks out duplicate keys when activated. If a contractor, housekeeper or next-door neighbor has regular access to your house keys, utilize your burglary prevention knowledge by installing a deadbolt to ensure that they can only access your home when invited.
- Doorway Downfalls: In the end, a lock’s effectiveness depends on the strength of the door in which it’s installed, so it’s wise to reinforce your door to prevent a burglar from kicking it in. The weakest part of a door is usually the area around the lock, especially in wood doors. The solution is to add a decorative door reinforcement plate to make the door more secure. Better yet, consider replacing your front entry with a sturdy fiberglass door, which looks like wood but is far stronger and more energy efficient. Some fiberglass door manufacturers like those from Therma-Tru also feature multi-point locks, utilizing bank-vault-style pins to prevent the door from being kicked in and keeping burglars at bay.
- Weak Patio Doors: Many older sliding patio doors have the inherent security disadvantages of less-sophisticated locks and location at the rear of a home, where burglars commonly enter. Some older models can actually be lifted right off their tracks and away for a grand intruder entry and exit. To prevent a burglar from breaking in, consider installing older doors with “patio bars” that prevent doors from sliding back in their tracks even when their locks have been damaged.
- Peep Holes: You can’t always see a burglar coming, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye out for the suspicious persons. Extend your view by installing a wide-angle (200-degree) peephole that allows you to take in your entire entryway at a glance.
- Lock Windows: Open windows give burglars a tempting view and an easy way to break into a home. Secure your windows with window treatments and shades that discourage prying eyes. Before you leave home on even the shortest errand, do a double-check to make sure all windows are closed and locked. Security bars may be installed over small, ground-level windows situated in low-traffic areas, but only if they’re fitted with quick-release mechanisms that allow them to be opened from the inside in an emergency.
- Bright Lights: Dark places around your home’s exterior is just what a burglar needs to cover his attack. Add lighting as needed to brighten all sides of your home. One of the most effective ways to do this is by installing motion-detector spotlights, which have built-in sensors that switch on the lights as soon as movement is detected nearby.
- Trim Trees and Shrubs: Tall trees and dense shrubbery can wind up being accessories to crime as well as to your landscaping. Prevent burglars from getting in by keeping front hedges and bushes cut low and trees pruned, especially around windows and entryways where burglars may perch before breaking and entering.
Burglars are sneaky thieves that can strike at a moments notice. But by following theses burglary prevention tips, you can dramatically reduce the chance that a burglary will happen to you.