Your home is supposed to be a safe space. It’s where you come to relax at the end of the day, where you make priceless memories with your family, and where you should feel the most at ease. So when that space is invaded, it often leaves a family feeling violated and exposed.
In the United States, a break-in takes place about every 18 seconds – that’s a pretty sobering statistic. Protecting your home from intruders should be a priority. And the more you know about burglaries, the better you’ll be able to prevent them from happening.
Here are 6 tips for stopping break-ins before they occur.
1. Don’t tip off thieves that you’re leaving
Thanks to the ubiquitousness of social media, we have become a culture that loves to share. But even though it’s become the norm, try to avoid posting details about trips you’re taking. Even seemingly harmless things, like sharing a selfie saying you’re at the airport, or tweeting about how stoked you are for your weeklong babymoon in Hawaii, are like giving criminals the go-ahead. Instead, wait until you return home to share pictures from vacation.
Another good idea is to have someone you trust come by every day and grab the mail and/or newspapers. And get an automatic timing system for your lights – having lights on can prevent thieves from learning your schedule and planning their heist accordingly.
2. Get deadbolts for all exterior doors
Deadbolts are more costly, but they are also much stronger than a standard spring latch lock, so they’re more reliable in the event of a break-in. When you’re installing them, make sure to leave as little space as possible between the door and the jamb, because that space can give burglars leverage to force the door apart.
3. Maybe get a dog
It doesn’t even have to be a big dog – it’s the noise factor that matters. In fact, small dogs often make better watchdogs because they are more prone to barking. You want a noisy dog. Ex-thieves have been interviewed and have admitted that when choosing a house to rob, the ones with dogs were not even considered because of the headache they cause – barking draws attention, and attention is the last thing a burglar wants.
4. Clear your yard of hiding places
Examine your yard, and prune any bushes or trees that are large enough to block a window – an obscured window means a thief can access it without being seen by neighbors. Also, think about lighting. Walk around your property at night and notice if there are dark spaces that could conceal a thief trying to sneak in. Make sure all entrances have lights. Motion detection lights are a good option not only because they conserve energy, but they draw attention when they snap on.
5. Install a home security system
Alarms might not prevent all thieves from breaking in, but it will deter most, and the police will get there sooner. The deterrent factor comes from the company’s alarm sign posted in your yard, and decals on the windows. It’s a good idea to keep your alarm engaged both while you’re away and while you’re at home, because sometimes burglars will break in while you are busy in another part of the house. Effective security systems have some audible sound they produce when someone breaks in. Some home insurance companies will even lower your premiums for having a system installed.
6. Move important items to storage
If you’re going to be gone for any length of time, it may be a good idea to transfer your most valuable assets to a climate controlled storage unit. As the name implies, these units stay at a consistent temperature, which protects your belongings from extreme weather, pests, dust, and humidity. If you have any sensitive items such as heirlooms, climate-controlled units are an especially great option.