Your home and family’s safety is a major priority, and one scenario you want to protect them from is burglary. Yet, your idea of a home burglary is likely extremely different than the real trends out there.
The image in your head of an easy target probably looks like a house with open windows and unlocked doors, and the burglar in this scenario might be wearing a dark mask in the dead of night. However, modern-day thieves approach houses much differently.
When you’re trying to fortify your home, it can help to think like a burglar and anticipate their actions. What draws them to one neighborhood over another, and why do they walk up one driveway and not the next? Let’s cover how burglars pick a house and what that means for your security measures.
How Often Does a Home Burglary Occur?
You might be asking, “Am I really at risk for a home burglary?” Whether you have expensive paintings hanging on your walls and pricey gems in your jewelry box or not, thieves could search for valuables at your residence. In the U.S., it’s estimated that there were 7,694,086 property crimes in 2017, which includes burglary and theft.
Home thefts happen frequently, and the most recent data from the FBI’s Crime Clock shows burglaries happened about every 22.6 seconds. This indicates that you need to take serious actions to maintain safety and monitor your place.
Burglary attempts happen to everyday homes even more often than businesses. In all burglary offenses during 2017, 67.2% were residential property burglaries. Because burglaries are frequent, it’s critical to take the correct steps to ward off break-ins.
What Attracts Burglars to Homes?
Before breaking into a home, burglars have to come up with an effective plan. They case an area and look for particular features in houses. To find out if your place is an easy target for burglars, check out the three main categories of what burglars look for.
1. Easy Access
Plotting a break-in begins with finding entry and exit spots. Often, burglars don’t have to break glass or door frames to come in. Doors and windows with vulnerable locks are a common access point for burglars. If loosening or bypassing them is simple, then it makes getting inside easy. Garage doors and pet doors are both open passages where burglars can get through quickly, too.
Quick departure is another plus for burglars. For instance, houses along a highway or adjacent to the interstate provide a speedy escape.
2. Indications You’re Away
Usually, burglars avoid running into homeowners during the job. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on household burglary victimization, no members of the household were present during approximately 72 percent of burglaries. They watch for signs that your home isn’t occupied.
Another misconception about burglary crimes is that most of them happen at night. Surprisingly, of the 2017 residential burglaries, 476,123 happened during the day while only 286,338 occurred at night. A significant reason for this is because burglars expect people to leave for work, errands or school.
3. Low Security and Visibility
Despite the high number of daytime break-ins, many criminals opt for the low visibility of night. They can also look for houses that are difficult to see from the road, so no one catches them in the act.
Minimal security is also a perk for burglars, and they can scope out security sensors, cameras and equipment. They can move on to a house that isn’t equipped with advanced safeguards to speed their job along.
What Items Do Burglars Look for in a Home?
Burglars don’t usually break into a house for ordinary products — they’re seeking special items. Generally, they’re looking for things they can sell for large sums of money. So, what are the items that robbers want to find in your home?
Jewelry and Cash: These are two straightforward items burglars aim for. They’re also the leading items that homeowners report stolen.
Medication: In recent years, medication has been a popular goal for robbers. They can rummage through medicine cabinets looking for opioids and other prescription drugs to resell for a profit.
Electronics: Electronics are another front runner in burgled goods. Smaller items are easier to transport during a job though, so bulkier technology may get left behind.
Discreet storage areas for these items can keep you from losing money and assets. Deposit these common burglar targets in an unpredictable spot in case a break-in happens.
How Can I Stop My House From Being Robbed?
While residential break-ins are prevalent, there are plenty of ways you can set up your house to deter thieves. From incorporating visual cues to adding alerts, you can minimize the risk of burglary. Check out these tips on how to stop your home from being robbed.
1. Lock Your Doors
Jiggling the doorknob is one of the first things a burglar tries when they’re working on entering your place. Unfortunately, this can work because many people leave their homes unlocked. Forcible entry only makes up a portion of burglaries, leaving many successful attempts of walking through the front door. An unlocked door is a serious breach, and even if your neighborhood has a low crime rate, it’s best to lock up when you’re going out.
The type of lock you use can also reinforce your security. Deadbolt locks are the most reliable kinds of locks because thieves have a more challenging time finagling their way through them. Other types are disengaged through well-known techniques, like using a wrench or credit card.
Also, don’t leave your spare key under the doormat or in a nearby planter. Burglars can quickly locate these hiding spots and gain immediate access. Carry your key with you, and put the back-up in a less obvious spot.
2. Don’t Leave First-Floor Windows Open
Most thieves aren’t looking to scale your building like an iconic cat burglar, so they’ll search for a ground level passageway. Numerous break-ins start with a first-floor window when they’re unlatched or propped open. Especially during summertime heat, you can forget to close each window on the main floor.
Some air conditioning units are positioned in windows to keep cooling and ventilation going, but thieves can take advantage of this opening. They can pull the unit out and force the window open. Moving these to windows on the second or third story can decrease this danger. Alternatively, you can install central air conditioning to keep the windows fully secure.
Check your windows before you leave your home empty to ensure they’re locked. Barred windows are another possibility, although most people don’t care for the way they look.
3. Don’t Let Mail Pile Up
When you take a vacation, the inactivity at your house is noticeable. Envelopes and magazines that begin to accumulate in your mailbox show that you aren’t home and might not return for a while. Newspapers at the end of your driveway are even more evidence that you’re out of town.
Contact your local post office to hold your mail during the dates you’re gone to avoid tipping off thieves. You can postpone your mail service for three to 30 days, then you’ll get the mail from that period from your mail carrier once you’re back.
A more convincing way to avert burglars is to hire a house sitter to collect your mail and subscription items. Asking a neighbor to grab your mail when they get their own is also useful. Their movement and presence mimic your regular routine, which can dissuade thieves from choosing your house as a target.
4. Wait to Post Vacation Photos
Another indication that you’re on a trip is when you announce it on social media. As you share fun memories in the moment, you can be informing robbers that your home is unoccupied.
It’s disheartening, but a considerable amount of thefts are by acquaintances. With the broad reach of social media, you probably are connected to a few people you aren’t close friends with on Facebook or Instagram. Also, you might have your accounts set to public instead of private, which means anyone could come across your profile and learn that you’re gone.
To guard your home against unwanted entry, save your vacation pictures on your phone or camera until you’ve returned. It’s wise not to post statuses about your absence or the length of your vacation, too. Filling everyone in about your trip a few days later can be well worth it.
5. Hide Valuables
If someone decides to snoop in your windows, can they see high-priced possessions around your house? Your level of wealth is probably easier to detect than you think, and robbers can figure out how profitable breaking into your home might be by just peering through the windows.
To keep your most precious belongings out of harm’s way, store them in a safe or simply move them to a less visible location. Without valuables within reach, there isn’t enough incentive for most robbers to burglarize your house.
Your dumpster can also reflect your financial situation, and it can communicate more than you’d like if you aren’t careful. For example, anyone who lifts the lid of your dumpster can see the box from your new flat screen. The contents of your front yard might draw robbers, too, so return any expensive tools or toys to their rightful places in the shed.
6. Reconsider Privacy Hedges and Fences
Tall fences and full hedges seem handy for obscuring your house and lessening your chance of becoming a thief’s target. However, robbers want to avoid exposure during the job, so privacy appeals to them.
Monitor the growth of your landscaping so it doesn’t cover too much of your house. You can also think about forming a line of sight from the street to your entry points like the front door and first-floor windows.
The more traffic in front of your property and eyes on your home, the greater the chance a robber will get caught lurking around your house. Plus, police patrol cars can keep tabs on your home with a clear visual and give you more confidence in your safety.
7. Put Your Pup to Work
Dogs act as a natural sound alarm for your house, and burglars typically don’t want this annoyance and obstacle during the job. The potential that the dog could lash out and bite an intruder keeps many thieves from moving forward with the burglary.
The barking alone makes robbers think twice about committing the crime, and the racket can warn your neighborhood that something’s not right. While the size of the dog doesn’t necessarily change the reaction of a burglar, a larger dog can provide a daunting presence and a deeper, menacing bark.
Leave some evidence of your dog around the yard like chew toys and a water bowl. You can even post a classic “Beware of Dog” sign on the fence to notify passersby.
8. Install Motion-Activated Lights
Exterior lighting is convenient for the same reason that fences and hedges are risky — direct visuals are an enemy of robbery. However, the surprise factor of motion-sensor lights is an added benefit.
The shock of an unexpected light coming on can frighten robbers. When they don’t know that their own motion turned it on, they can think someone is checking outside because they heard a suspicious sound. By shining a spotlight on unwelcome visitors at night, you can trick burglars into thinking they’ve been discovered.
Set up motion-activated lights around your doors and windows to scare off criminals before they set a foot inside.
9. Use a Security System
Security systems discourage burglars from looting your home, and you don’t have to purchase the most sophisticated model. Basic alarm systems can feature loud horn or siren when sensors are triggered, but higher-end ones have a range of capabilities.
With advances in technology, home security systems are now more impressive and complex than ever. They can bring sensors, security cameras, entry keypads, emergency responses and automated messages to your house.
Many security systems have a door decal or sign you can put up to advertise what burglars will walk into. The hassle of disarming a security system is normally too much trouble for the average robber, so they can turn away before considering your house for their job.
Protect Your Home With a Panic Room.
These tips don’t just shield your home from danger — they help you find peace of mind and prepare for any situation. You can arrange your house for optimal safety by making your presence known, not calling attention to valuables, increasing visibility and installing security supports.
Persistent home invaders will eventually find a way in, that is when you need the Ultimate in Home Safety and Security – A Panic Room. A Panic/Safe Room will provide the ultimate safety until the police arrive.
At Panic Room Builders we provide the ultimate insurance policy. Protect your family, property and assets today by contacting our expert team