Your house is your sanctuary. This is where you feel at peace, where you can rest. The idea that someone can come in and invade your privacy and living space without your consent is disturbing. In addition, home invasions, someone breaking in while you’re home, are on the rise. So we’re going to take a look at how you can avoid a home burglary and protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.
Burglaries are Bad
There are two types of burglaries. They both involve bad guys entering your home and taking items, money, jewelry, guns, etc.
But home invasions are the burglaries that occur when you’re home. It is the more terrifying of the two just because of the potential of harm to you or someone in your family.
Luckily, there are ways you can prevent or avoid a home burglary of either kind.
How Burglars Choose Their Target
First of all, understand that there are basically two methods that bad guys use for choosing the victims of their burglaries – random and targeted. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent and deter both. But let’s clarify the difference first.
Carefully Targeted Burglaries
Sometimes criminals look for a target home long before they hit them.
Many times targeted burglaries are actually home invasions, the bad guys know exactly who you are, and have an idea of what you are worth. They might get the impression you have a large amount of cash at your house because you own a small business that deals in mostly cash.
The kind of car you drive, the company you keep, the clothes you wear, and even the kind of food you have delivered can tell an interested person just how much money you have. All this can give them an idea of what they can possibly find behind your doors.
Some burglars will take their time and study the inhabitant’s daily patterns. They study when you normally leave and when you come back home.
This will set a precedent of when best to break-in. Most break-ins occur between the hours of 10am and 3pm. Why? This is the time when most people are away – at work or school. That is why you need to learn how to burglar-proof your home.
Random Burglaries – You Should Run Faster
You’ve seen this joke somewhere before:
You and a friend come upon a bear in the woods. Then you begin to lace up your shoes.
Your friend: “What are you doing? You can’t run faster than a bear”. You: “I don’t have to, I just have to run faster than you.”
Well, that same mindset works with random home burglaries. I like to keep my property lit up much more than my neighbors, I have dogs and security cameras with lights and no windows in or near my door. I want it to be such a hassle and a pain in the butt that anyone that wants to break in will figure it is just too much work and move on to the next house.
You want to prevent the types of burglaries or home invasions that are random and they’re looking for a house that will give them the least amount of trouble. Making your house more difficult to enter than the next just might be the best way to avoid a home burglary.
Not entirely 100% random
So, these types of burglaries are not really 100% random. There is some thought and decision making involved on the part of the criminal. Usually it comes down to the easiest target.
Typically, home burglaries occur in middle class and more affluent neighborhoods. But in addition to that, these criminals look for signs of the potential loot that can be had. Things like the type of car you drive or empty expensive product boxes left out for trash will give indications of what could potentially be found in the house.
If it looks like no one has been there in a few days it is an inviting target. That is why around the holidays you hear law enforcement agencies tell you to get a trusted neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers. There is a reason for this.
How Burglars Get Into The House
Simple things like an always unlocked patio door can make you a target for a burglar. Burglars like to have an easy way in. They almost always use the front door to get in, and if not, then the back door.
Most front doors, without taking the necessary reinforcing measures, are fairly easy to bust in with a forceful kick. And if there is glass in the door within reaching distance of the thumbturn deadbolt that makes it even easier to get in.
Easy targets like slide-up windows seem like a welcome mat to a burglar. The simple latches are not always the most secure. There are after market locks specifically for windows that make it harder to pry or break open.
Burglars like to get in through garage doors as well. The lock on a garage door tends to be a simple keyed lock with a handle that turns. If there is not a garage door opener attached it will be easier to open. All it would take is a forceful turn of the handle to get the latch out of the hole in the long jamb.
Measures You Can Take to Avoid A Home Burglary
1. Keep your house locked up
This may seem like the easiest thing but it is a fact that burglars walk into homes through the front door with no struggle. Each time you leave your house, ensure that all entrances are locked.
If you have a problem remembering to lock each entrance as you leave, then get a smart lock that automatically locks right behind you. This would be a good way to burglar-proof front doors. These locks can be set to automatically engage the deadbolt after the door is shut, enabling you to walk away without stopping to turn a key. And most of them have a time adjust setting that locks it anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes after the door is closed.
When we talk of locking your house, it goes beyond your front door lock. You need to think about every possible entrance. Take windows for instance. They are always easy to open from either side.
Installing burglar-proof window locks will ensure that they can only be opened and locked from inside. Burglarproof patio doors or burglar proof sliding glass doors will ensure that your patio and porch are not the entry points chosen by a burglar.
As an additional measure, ensure that you check your locks now and then. This is to make sure that there are no broken or loose locks and they haven’t been tampered with. If any is found, replace and reinforce it.
2. Keep the surroundings lit
One good place for a burglar to hide, while they are looking through your windows, is in the shadows. Because they need to get as close to the house as possible without being seen, they will make use of the dark corners around the house. Install lights outside your home that brighten the area all around the perimeter of your home.
You can also install motion detector lights that will come on even when you are asleep or not home. The light makes home burglars feel like they have been seen and being reported thus making them leave. Sort of how cockroaches run for cover when the kitchen light is turned on.
3. Clear out any hiding places
In addition to lighting up your property, clearing out any hiding places will help in reducing the chances of burglary. Trim flower bushes, bushy trees and shrubs that conceal points of entry to your house. Obstructions that hide doors and windows from the street let burglars enter through these openings without fear of being seen by neighbors or passersby.
4. Have home automation
Home automation is often referred to as having a smart home. It enables you to have control of certain security details in your house. You can remotely control certain functions of your house like the security system, door and window locks, smoke alarms as well as the lights.
There are many systems you can use for home automation that can operate lights, door locks, thermostat and many others. Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings and Wink to name a few.
You can, for instance, schedule your lights to come on at a specific time every day whether you are there or not. This gives the impression that you are home even when you are not. With control over your cameras, you can also send police if you view anything alarming even when you are not at home.
5. Keep your Wi-Fi locked and use 2 factor authentication when available
With the world of cloud computing, we synchronize all our details to our home network for ease of access. What we don’t realize is that this leaves us vulnerable to our personal information being stolen. Tech-savvy burglars find it easy to get a hold of your passwords, account details and practically anything else through your home Wi-Fi.
This is worse when your automated home is linked to your Wi-Fi. This gives them easy access to any gadgets linked to it as well as your security system. Having an open Wi-Fi system thus leaves you vulnerable to burglars’ as well as cyber thieves.
If thieves are able to hack into your network or any BlueTooth or WiFi enabled device they can find information on you or, even more unsettling, watch you through your own security camera system.
To prevent all this, have a secure wireless network, hide and even rename your home network, and keep Wi-Fi protected access active.
6. Consider an unpredictable schedule
Like a hunter, sometimes burglars assess the home they want to target. Keeping a routine schedule will make it easy for them to know when best to hit your house.
One good way of throwing them off is by messing up your schedule once in a while. This can be as simple as dropping by at lunchtime or coming home a few hours early. You can even have someone stop by your house randomly at a weird hour in the day.
7. Have a security camera system
This may seem like a big step but it becomes necessary. Security cameras enable you to protect your home as well as hopefully find the culprits if your house gets broken into.
Security cameras enable you to keep an eye on your home even when you are not around, as they can be linked to any mobile device. They also give burglars the clear indicator that they are being watched.
Some security camera systems are completely wireless with rechargeable batteries making it an easy installation process as well as a deterrent.
Lorex makes a really good system that allows you to add up to 6 cameras. It is completely wireless and the camera signal has a range of 600 feet. The videos are stored on a DVR located in your house, so there are no videos of your activities in the cloud or on Lorex servers unless you opt in for that.
8. Get a Video Doorbell
You can adopt nifty gadgets like video doorbells that enable you to see the person on the other side of the door. Most are activated when motion is detected and sends you a notification on your smartphone.
Many video doorbells, especially ones that send you a notification, allow you to talk to whoever is at your front door from wherever you are. This will enable you to see anyone who may be snooping around your home and alert the authorities is necessary.
These are good deterrents because most burglars don’t want the extra trouble of dealing with houses when people are home or know that they can be seen and they will move on. And if you are able to talk to them through the video doorbell they aren’t sure if you are home or not.
9. Reinforce Your Front Door
There are many things you can do to reinforce your front door that will prevent the door from being kicked in and help to avoid a home burglary. Or at the very least, give you extra time to make a call to 911, get into a safe room or escape from a different door. You can get a better, stronger deadbolt and anchor the deadbolt strike to the wood house framing with 3″ screws. There are also door armor kits from Armor Concepts that add a metal plate to the jambs and to the door. They come with screws that anchor to the house framing and strengthen the weak points of the door making it incredibly difficult to kick or bust the door in.
10. Go the extra mile
Another extra measure would be having a safe inside your house. This will help you keep your valuables far from sight. And it should be bolted down or heavy enough that it can’t be carried off.
If you are a dog person, you can consider keeping a medium to large breed whose bark will care off most burglars. The beauty of dogs is that whether you are home or away, they will deter the burglar, alert you to the presence of a threat and help you avoid a home burglary.
How To Recover From A Burglary
You walk into your home after a vacation and you discover that it was broken into. What do you do?
As invaded as you may feel, the last thing you need to do is become frantic. The following steps will help you recover faster and more effectively:
Get to Safety
Hard as it may seem at the time, and because you do not know how long ago your house was broken into, leave your house and get to a safe place. Walking in on a burglary can prove fatal as the thief will want to do anything to get away, including hurting you. Going to a safe place will also enable you to calm down and recollect yourself as you are bound to be with people you trust.
Call the Police
Your house is now a crime scene. As such, the police need to be there to determine that you are out of danger and you will want them to clear your house. It also enables them to collect evidence before anyone has a chance to tamper with it.
Take Note of Anything Missing
Once the police clear the crime scene, then walk around and look for what was taken. It’s important for the police report and your insurance claim. Take your time so you do not miss anything.
Note down each item and its value. As you look through, go through your medicine cabinet as well. Some burglars make away with whatever medication seems expensive or potent to use or sell. If the medication is one that you need, you need to know it is missing to replace it.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Most insurance policies cover you from theft. You, therefore, need to contact your insurance company to report the incident. Make use of the police report number to validate your claim. The sooner you make the report with your insurance company the faster you can replace anything that was taken or repair anything that was broken.
Replace and Repair
Because you need to reclaim your home, do the necessary clean up and repair. As you do so, take note of your home’s weak security points. Then re-enforce the security as needed. They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but burglars can.
So you need to ensure that you take all necessary measures to prevent a future similar occurrence. Find out how to burglar-proof a door if that was the weak point. Coming up with a neighborhood watch is also a good way of not only burglar proofing your home but the entire neighborhood as well.
“Prevention of” NOT “Recovering from” a Home Burglary
There are numerous ways to avoid a home burglary, preventing you from being a statistic. We are certain that most of these will help ensure that you never have to worry about having to recover from a burglary. If you need any further information or aren’t sure what to do now let me know and I’ll help you out.