Burglary is a common crime throughout the U.S., where a break-in happens about once every 30 seconds. However, the majority of burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Most thieves are not professionals, so they’re looking for an easy target. Fortunately, there are some simple and effective steps you can take to keep your home safe.
Keep Doors And Windows Locked
Locking up when you leave the house is the first and most important security measure you can take. There is nothing more attractive to a thief than an empty house with an unlocked door. Make it a habit to lock the door every time you go out, even if you’re just taking a walk or visiting the neighbor across the street. Similarly, get used to locking a window whenever you close it.
Update Locks On Doors
Updating door locks can greatly increase home security if your current locks are old-fashioned and easy to pick. Changing door locks is also important if you have lost a key or had a roommate move out. If you don’t already have deadbolts on every door, you’ll certainly want to install them. You can also consider upgrading to smart locks or adding a video doorbell. When you choose new locks, check with a residential locksmith about the best options for your home.
Make Windows More Secure
Windows can be a point of vulnerability because it’s easy for a thief to break the glass or force open a window with a flimsy latch. You can make your windows more secure by installing better locks, adding security bars, and reinforcing the glass with window film. A heavy-duty film can keep window glass from shattering on impact, making it much harder for a thief to break through.
Install Or Increase Outdoor Lighting
Another way to keep your home safe is to increase your outdoor lighting. Most crimes take place during the day when people are likely to be at work, but some break-ins do happen at night. The best type of night-time lighting is a motion-sensor light that comes on only when triggered. Not only does this feature save electricity, but a light coming on will often scare intruders away.
Close Curtains And Blinds
Burglars also look for houses where valuables are on display through open curtains or blinds. Consider upgrading to window treatments that provide more privacy than what you currently have. Some window shades are designed to let in light while blurring or obscuring the view from outside. If you choose to leave a curtain or two open while the house is empty, make sure that nothing valuable is visible.
Take In The Mail
A mailbox crammed full of mail is a sure sign that the homeowners are out of town, which makes a house an attractive target. The mail itself can also be a security risk if criminals can get access to your credit card number or a credit card offer. When you leave town, have a friend collect your mail or have the post office stop delivery until you return.
Use Landscaping To Your Advantage
First-floor windows, especially on the back side of a house, can be an easy point of entry for a thief. You can deter intruders by planting thick shrubs, like holly bushes, in front of low windows. While some plants add protection, however, others can make a home less secure. Some burglars, for example, enter a home by climbing a tree with branches that grow near a window or balcony. Other shrubs and plants can serve as hiding places. Consider trimming branches to remove climbing routes and cutting back shrubs that could conceal an intruder.
Keep Recyclables Out Of Sight
The recycling bin is full of information that could make a home seem attractive to criminals. Labeled boxes and receipts can reveal that you have valuable items in your home. They can also indicate your shopping habits and tastes. A receipt showing a very high grocery bill, for instance, tells criminals that you have plenty of disposable income and most likely a house full of nice things.
To make your home more secure, keep your recycling bin inside and out of sight and take it to your local recycling center yourself rather than waiting for the sanitation company to pick it up. Also, make sure to shred sensitive documents rather than throwing them in the recycling bin.
Be Mindful Of What You Share On Social Media
Another way to increase your home security is to be very cautious about what you share on social media. Don’t let people know when you’re going out of town, and don’t share vacation photos until you’re back home. If you choose to share information that could put you at risk of a break-in, at least be careful to limit who can see your post.
Use A Home Security System
Studies have shown that home security systems work to deter crime because they significantly increase the risk of burglars. For one thing, most security systems nowadays include cameras, and thieves don’t want their faces on film. Alarms and even security company signs are also effective deterrents. Modern wireless systems use motion sensors to trigger cameras and alarms. They are easier to install than traditional wired systems but a bit more costly.
Secure Your Valuables
Even with all of these security measures in place, there’s still a chance that a thief will find a way to break in. In that worst-case scenario, you can minimize your losses if your most important valuables are locked in a safe. In addition to jewelry and cash, many people store car titles, bank and investment account information, social security cards, and wills in a fireproof, waterproof safe. A safe is also the best place to store firearms and ammunition.
These simple steps, along with basic common sense, will go a long way toward protecting your home from criminals who are seeking an easy target. It can also help to get to know your neighbors. You may even want to organize a neighborhood watch group, which is a proven crime deterrent.