Times have changed since the days of leaving your home unlocked or windows open when you’re away. Statistics show that 160 burglaries take place every hour in the United States. That’s about 3,840 burglaries every day.
As startling as these statistics are, the good news is that there are a number of preventative measures you can take to burglar-proof your home and protect your loved ones.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips you can employ at home to safeguard your household against potential criminals.
Securing Your Home on the Outside
1. Yard lighting
Making sure your outdoor areas are well-illuminated is an effective way to keep potential criminals at bay. A well-lit house not only indicates that there are people at home, but it also makes any suspicious activity clearly visible to you and your neighbors.
2. Street lighting
Potential criminals scouting out homes to burglarize will be deterred by a well-lit street. Burglars prefer dimly lit areas that allow them to go undetected.
If your neighborhood lacks sufficient street lighting, take action with local officials to push for better lighting. If there is an active neighborhood association in your area, get involved with them and drum up support for your cause.
3. Improve Visibility
The visibility of your home from the road or from a neighbor’s home plays an important role in securing your home from the outside. If your house is not visible from the road, or the road is not visible from inside your house, you may want to reconsider your landscaping as a security precaution.
Overgrown shrubbery and large obstructing trees can block your view of the road,as well as hide certain areas in your yard. Out-of-sight areas in your yard are great spots for thieves to hide—but these spots are easy to eliminate!
Trimming large bushes and removing overgrown trees will help to increase your visibility and help your neighbors spot suspicious behavior around your property.
4. Demarcate your property
A fence, gate, or wall around your home lets others know exactly where your property begins. Apart from keeping unwanted visitors out, having a fence or wall around your yard will increase your sense of security and immediately make you feel safer. It also allows you to easily discern a trespasser from a visitor.
5. Hide expensive items
Don’t leave any expensive purchases visible in your yard or near your windows. Potential criminals passing by your home look for signs that your home contains high-value items that are easily carried off. Expensive purchases, such as electronics, should be put away when they’re not in use.
6. Motion detectors
Equip your property with a top rated home security system and feel the worry fade away! Today’s high-tech alarm systems come with built-in motion detectors that alert you to movement on your property.
You don’t need to be at home to receive these alerts, and you can customize the zones in need of surveillance. Furthermore, alarm systems with motion sensors act as a deterrent to potential burglars, thus making them one of the best precautionary measures you can take to secure your property.
7. Lock your doors
Locking your doors seems like an obvious thing to do! But many people become complacent when it comes to latching their front door or locking up the garage when they leave.
People assume that burglars wouldn’t try to open the garage door or that breaking in through the front door is too obvious. But that’s not the case.
What locks are best for security?
Schlage or Yale are good brands to start with.
If you want the absolute best of the best, consider a solid metal magnetic lock like a Evva MCS which has anti-drill measures. Even many of the best locksmiths aren’t able to crack this one. Also consider established lock brands like:
- Mul-T-Lock (MT5+ core)
- Assa Abloy
The bottom line? Lock your doors when you leave and when you come home.
8. Reinforce your door
Here’s what you can do to strengthen the door against physical attacks:
- Get 3-inch screws for your strike plate and hinges. These will bite into the stud and help defend against kicking attacks.
- Use a metal sleeve insert around the lock hardware of the door. Consider an extended steel strike plate that lines your entire door jamb.
By protecting the hinges, lock hardware holes, and strike plate, your door can withstand everything short of a vehicular battering ram. Products like the Door Devil offer a convenient solution.
9. Meet the Neighbors
Get to know your neighbors and form relationships with them. Good neighbors look out for you and will notify you if they sense anything is amiss.
Neighbors get used to seeing the types of visitors who frequent your property and behaviors that occur around your home and the times at which they occur. They can easily spot a stranger who should not be there and alert you if they suspect something is wrong.
10. Neighborhood watch
If your neighborhood doesn’t already have one, consider forming a neighborhood watch committee. The committee would be responsible for discussing the goings-on of the area as well as creating crime awareness and discussing any suspicious activity. You can also join online forums or social media groups dedicated to your neighborhood.
11. Be prepared in bad weather and power outages
Remember, criminals strike when opportunity presents itself. They don’t take a day off during a storm or power outage. Be extra vigilant if the weather is bad and your view of your yard is obstructed by rain, snow, or fog.
If you experience power outages in your area, make sure to lock all your doors to the outside. Be wary of electronic gates that cease to function when the electricity is cut off—these can easily be pushed open without an alarm sounding.
12. Don’t say too much!
Be careful not to say too much about the security of your home or your holiday plans to strangers, especially on social media.
Also, be wary of people who ask too many questions about your daily schedule, home layout, or security equipment. Information that doesn’t seem important at the time may very well be critical to a criminal’s break-in plan.
13. Be wary of service providers
If you’re hiring someone to fix a burst pipe, install an appliance, or even mow the lawn, be wary of the areas of your house that they have access to. Criminals can easily pose as a service provider, as the position allows them unfettered access to your home, free of your suspicion.
Make sure service providers are supervised and aren’t wandering around your home freely with an opportunity to unlatch a window or disable a camera.
14. Be vigilant during the day
Statistics show that the most common time for burglaries is during the day. Contrary to popular belief, break-ins occur more commonly during the day as it’s usually the time when you’re at work and the kids are at school. Make sure to arm your alarm system when you leave home in the morning!
Securing Your Home on the Inside
15. Install burglar bars
Normally, a burglar can break through a window and enter a home in 5-10 seconds. Ground floor windows are the way burglars are most likely to gain entry to your home.
Installing burglar bars on the windows of your home is an effective method of burglar-proofing. The bars are fitted on the inside of the window frame and provide another layer of security for you and your loved ones. They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing, but they are effective at keeping intruders out of your home.
Any trespasser trying to break into your home through a window will have no luck if it is fitted with burglar bars. Additionally, you could double-up on securing your windows by fitting them with safety glass or window laminate.
16. Lock your inside doors
Of course, you know you should lock your exterior doors at night. But you may want to consider locking interior doors as well as an extra security precaution.
For example, if there is a door leading into the bedroom quarter of your house, this should be locked, too. And if you live alone and want an extra preventative measure, consider locking your bedroom door at night.
If your interior doors need extra reinforcement, try something like the Buddybar Door Jammer, a portable device that when attached to your door can withstand up to 2,560 pounds of force.
17. Home security system
An alarm system allows you to arm and disarm certain parts of your house at the same time using a keypad. You can alarm the downstairs area of your house while keeping the upstairs disarmed for your convenience. Furthermore, a home security alarm system will show you where the alarm was triggered should it go off.
Modern home security systems come with an array of smart home features that will leave you feeling confident about the security of your household. Control the doorbell, alarm, and cameras from the convenience of your smartphone so you don’t need to be at home to know who’s at the door!
If you need help choosing the right security system for your home, ask a local alarm company near you.
18. Security cameras
Placing security cameras in strategic places around your home will allow you to monitor important areas of your house. Whether it’s a separate camera setup you purchase or it integrates with your smart home security system, the idea is to have access to visual surveillance of your home, whether you’re at the office or in your bed. By using a home alarm system with cameras, you’ll be able to see whatever is tripping the alarm and confirm whether it was caused by a genuine emergency.
Security cameras give you the ability to check on areas of your home throughout the day so you can keep an eye on the kids playing in the front yard or follow up on suspicious noises at night.
19. Spare keys
It’s essential to have a spare key for your house and keep it an area that is easily accessible and secure at the same time. But rather than hiding your spare key under the doormat or under a potted plant, leave it with a neighbor or trusted friend instead.
Burglars and potential thieves know to look for a spare key around your doors, so be on the safe side and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands.
20. Cover up the glass
While you should be able to see the road from your house, you don’t want people to be able to see inside your home from the road. Large glass sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling bay windows are pleasing to the eye but also provide a clear view of the inside of your home. Potential burglars can easily tell whether there is anyone home, and they have a view of valuable items such as TVs and decorative pieces.
Use curtains, blinds, or privacy film on the glass to obstruct people’s view from the outside and prevent any instances of “window shopping.” What an outsider can’t see will not tempt them!
21. Alarm your windows
Remember the window over the sink—a favorite for seasoned burglars!
It’s a known fact that the bathroom window on the second story often provides easy access to the master bedroom, jewelry, and other valuables. You may want to consider motion detectors on key second-story entry points as well.
22. Install a dividing gate
Another level of security to consider is a gate that provides an extra barrier between you and any intruder who may enter your home. Many floor plans group bedrooms together at one end of the house or on the second floor. This makes it easier for you to protect that group of bedrooms with a gate. Choose a suitable space—usually, a hallway—and have a swing gate or concertina gate fitted.
Apart from the extra peace of mind you get when going to sleep, the dividing gate will also protect you and your loved ones from coming into contact with any burglar who manages to enter your home.
23. Own a fireproof safe
Invest in a safe to store your valuables in. Purchase a fire-proof safe that is bolted to the wall or floor so that burglars can’t simply remove the entire safe from your home.
A safe will ensure your valuables are secure and untouched. Make sure to keep the passcode secure with you, and don’t write it anywhere it can be easily found—including on your mobile phone!
Whenever you purchase an expensive item, take the receipt and put in the safe. You may need the receipt to help process an insurance claim if something is stolen.
In addition, keep serial numbers (and photos, if possible) of anything you care about. If your laptop gets stolen and you spot it in a local pawn shop, you won’t be able to get it back unless you have that serial number already on file somewhere.
Securing Your Home While You’re Away
Leaving the light on in one or more rooms of your house is a great way to make it seem as though there is someone at home. Potential burglars are deterred by the presence of people in the house and are not likely to target your house if it seems like someone’s home.
Better yet, invest in smart light bulbs that can be controlled remotely or scheduled to turn on at certain times of the day. Using smart home technology will allow you to fool potential burglars by continuing to turn lights off and on at your normal schedule even while you’re away.
25. Keep Your Neighbors Informed
Enlist the help of your neighbors the next time you plan on going away on vacation. Asking them to drop in at your house every evening or every few days will show activity in the house or give the impression that you have guests over. This will further deter any criminal from viewing your home as an easy target.
Newspapers that collect on your lawn or front porch are a sure sign that no one is home! You’re letting a potential robber know that no one has been home for a few days. If your front yard or front porch is visible from the road, make sure to ask someone (a friend or neighbor) to collect the newspaper regularly.
If you’ll be away from home for more than a few days, your overflowing mailbox may make it obvious to potential burglars that you’re not home. Have someone check your mailbox daily, or put a hold on your mail delivery through the postal service. Double-check that you don’t have any packages that will be delivered while you’re gone, too.
28. House sitter
Consider having a friend or family member stay over at your home if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. This will ensure that someone is keeping an eye on your house, and the presence of someone in the house will deter burglars.
29. Video doorbell camera
Doorbell cameras are a must-have element of a smart home security system and are very effective at providing you with up-to-date surveillance of your home. You can gain access to your security camera’s live footage at any time, from anywhere!
A smart home doorbell system will alert you to suspicious activity in your yard and front door so you’ll always know what’s going on at home, no matter where you are. Ask your security system company to see if they offer these devices and whether their service is right for your needs.
30. Short trips
Consider going away for shorter periods of time if possible. Shorter trips will be less obvious to potential burglars who are on the lookout for empty homes.
No matter how long you’ll be away from home, though, make sure to have someone check on your house to collect mail and newspapers, and take precautions to make it less obvious you’re away.
Resources on Burglary and Home Security
- The US Department of Justice released a special report in 2010 on “Victimization During Household Burglary“.
- Dr. Joseph Kuhns, a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina, interviewed 422 individuals convicted of larceny in a 2013 study.
- KGW News conducted a survey of 86 inmates in the Oregon Department of Corrections.
There have also been several books and articles written by US and UK researchers based on interviews with hundreds of burglars:
- Bennett, T. and Wright, R. (1984) Burglars on Burglary: Prevention and the Offender. Hampshire, UK: Gower Publishing Limited.
- Nee, C. and Taylor, M. (1988) Residential Burglary in the Republic of Ireland: A Situational Perspective. In: M. Tomlinson, T. Varley and C. McCullagh (eds.) Whose Law and Order. Galway, Ireland: The Sociological Association of Ireland, pp. 82–103.
- Nee, C. and Taylor, M. (2000) Examining burglars’ target selection: Interview, experiment or ethnomethodology? Psychology, Crime & Law 6 (1): 45–59.
- Wright, R.T. and Decker, S.H. (1994) Burglars on the Job: Streetlife and Residential Break-Ins. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.
- Cromwell, P. and Olson, J. (2004) Breaking and Entering: Burglars on Burglary. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Preventing a Burglary Starts Today
These burglar-proofing tips will help you secure your home and keep your family and property safer. Want even more ideas on how to keep your home safe?
Check out our home security service offerings and contact Alarm New England to learn how we can help you make your home even safer.