Many burglars spend no more than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. Good locks, good lighting, and good neighbors who watch out for each other can be major deterrents to burglars.
Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries, thieves simply entered through unlocked doors or windows?
- Make sure every exterior door has a sturdy, properly installed dead bolt lock. Key in the knob locks alone are not enough to prevent entry.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. The broomstick or dowel must fit in the track without being too short to stop the door from opening and too long to lay horizontally in the track. To prevent the door from being lifted off of the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double hung windows with key locks or pin windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle into the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail or pin that can be removed. Basement windows can be secured with grates.
- Instead of hiding keys on the outside of the house, give an extra key to someone you trust. It could be a neighbor or a relative.
- When you move into a new house or apartment re-key the locks. You have no idea who may have keys or how many copies have been made.
Even the best locks can provide little or no security if installed on a flimsy door.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- If your doors do not fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
- If you live in an area that requires a great deal of security, or it is a particular concern of yours, choose an exterior door with no windows or windows only at the top of the door. This prevents anyone from seeing who is answering the door and it prevents anyone from breaking the glass to defeat the locks.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. Never rely on door chains to prevent entry through the door.
Outside the Home
Look at your house from the outside. Compare your home to your neighbors. Are you able to find the areas that may assist a burglar in gaining entry?
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights so that no possible point of entry is left in the dark. Keep the lights on all night, not just until you go to bed.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so that it doesn’t hide doors or windows. Cut tree limbs that would give anyone access to the roof or a second level window.
- Make sure your house number is clearly visible and easily found by emergency personnel who may be responding to your home.
- If you travel, use several timers on lights in various parts of the house. Set them so that each area lights at a different time of the evening or night. Never leave lights on 24 hours a day. This is a clear signal no one is home.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in their normal positions. Have a neighbor or friend collect your mail or have the post office stop delivery while you are gone. Stop delivery of your newspaper as well; a pile of papers is a clear indication that you are away.
Inside the Home
Have the perfect hiding place for your valuable items or extra cash? Odds are that a burglar knows that perfect hiding spot as well.
- Make a list of your valuables including electronic equipment, furniture and jewelry. Take photos or video of these items and keep them in a safe place.
- Make sure if the item has a serial number you list this as well. This will help not only law enforcement but your insurance carrier as well.
- Engrave valuables with a distinctive number of your choosing, such as a social security number. This provides proof of ownership when there are no serial numbers or when serial numbers have been removed.
- Rent a safety deposit box for valuables that you do not need on a daily or monthly basis.
- Students should take anything valuable home with them over breaks.
Burglars Do More Than Steal
Burglars can commit rapes, robberies, and assaults, particularly if they are surprised while in the process of their crime. You can never second guess the intent of a burglar or their physical or mental state should you encounter them in the act. If it can be avoided, do not put yourself in harm’s way by confronting a burglar or taking unnecessary actions.
- If something looks questionable — a slit screen, an open or broken window, or an open door — do not go in. Call the police immediately from a safe location and keep the home under observation if you can.
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can’t leave, lock yourself in a room with a telephone and call the police. If an intruder has made it into your room before you are aware of him, pretend you are asleep.
- Guns are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every year. Think carefully before buying a gun. If you do own one, learn how to store and use it safely. Nothing could be more tragic than a child accidentally gaining access to a firearm or mistakenly identifying a family member as a burglar.
- Guns, baseball bats, heavy flashlights, or other “weapons” of protection can be taken away from you and used against you. Think carefully before arming yourself and attempting to confront a burglar. Your safety should always be paramount.