Last December, our home was broken into. We weren’t home, and luckily nothing was stolen that couldn’t b replaced, but it had our family living in fear for a little while. Today I would like to share a guest post by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley containing some simple tips you might want to consider to help prevent break-ins.
You’ve seen the famous Hollywood heist movies such as Ocean’s 11 and Heat where a glamorous gang of hot-shot thieves strategize and scheme for months in order to pull off elaborate, million-dollar robberies. However, it would probably be overkill to install motion-sensor booby traps in your own home or to store all of your belongings inside a high-security vault like the Bellagio’s.
The reality is that most burglaries can be attributed to male teenagers who live within just a few miles of your home, and the average loss from burglaries in the U.S. is about $2,000. So with that in mind, it’s easy to take a look at your home the way the average thief would and take a few simple steps to help prevent break-ins.
The average thief probably won’t try to scale the walls of your house and drop in through a skylight. Think simpler: If you’re a teenager wandering the streets of your neighborhood, what’s the easiest route inside without attracting unwanted attention?
You guessed it: The average burglar is most likely to enter your home through the front door, a sliding glass door or a large window.
To help prevent break-ins, make sure you’ve installed deadbolt locks (and use them!), lock any sliding glass doors and use a door jam or sturdy stick to keep them from sliding, and keep your windows locked. It’s also a good idea to keep shrubbery around points of entry trimmed in order to provide clear visibility of everyone who enters or exits your home.
Keep the lights on
Most thieves won’t try to sneak into your home and sneak out with all of your belongings without you noticing while you’re sipping coffee at the kitchen table. They’ll look for signs that no one’s home, such as a full mailbox or a stack of newspapers in the driveway, no cars parked outside and a dark house.
If you’re planning to be out of town for an extended period of time, arrange with a neighbor you trust to have your mail and newspapers picked up daily. Leave a light or two on inside, or set a couple of lamps on timers so they turn on at night but save energy during the day. Make sure you’ve installed outdoor lights and check that they’re functioning properly. Every point of entry to your home should be well-lit so your neighbors can easily see if anyone’s coming and going. If you can leave a car in the driveway, it also will add to the illusion that someone is home.
Make them hunt
You don’t have to install a high-security vault with retina-scanning entry – just make your unwelcome guests hunt for anything valuable. The average time a burglar spends inside a home is about 12 minutes. It’s simple math: the longer it takes him to find what he’s looking for, the better your chances are that he will give up.
Never leave cash or jewelry sitting out in plain sight and put away any high-value electronics such as laptops and gaming consoles. This may also actually be a time when your usually inconvenient tangled wires come in handy – the longer it takes a thief to wrestle with your electronics the less likely he is to take them and the less time he’ll have to loot other parts of the house.
Let them know they’ll be caught
A house that is not protected by a security system is 2 to 3 times more likely to be burglarized than one that is. It makes sense – would you try to break into a home if you knew you’d set off an alarm and probably end up in handcuffs within the hour? Set up signs in your yard and stickers on your windows to let potential intruders know they’ll be caught if they try any funny business. In addition to reducing your chances of a break-in, installing a home security system could also help you save some money on your home insurance premium.
When it comes to home security, the most important thing is to use common sense. The average thief is looking for an easy job; the harder you make it to enter your home and get away with valuable loot, the less likely you are to lose your belongings.
This article was contributed by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley, Editor of the HomeInsurance.com blog. Carrie has been writing insurance news and consumer information for HomeInsurance.com since 2008. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in 2005 with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism.