According to authorities, a break and enter occurs every 15 seconds in North America resulting in an average $1,725 worth of property stolen and robs the people who live there of peace of mind for years.
It happens all to often and most if not all of those victims thought their home was properly secure. They had locks, lights, neighbors, dogs, alarm system and/or window bars. So how did a burglar still get in?
The sad fact is, it’s actually not that hard to get into the average house. The risk of being seen breaking in is more of a deterrent than a typical door lock, and since most home invasions happen in daylight, that risk is apparently not an overwhelming one. The dilemma is that most houses have weak points, and experienced thieves are extremely great at locating them.
Some weak points are obvious: For example an open door screams “everything must go!” A tree house within walking distance from an upstairs window is probably not a great idea. A window left open on a hot summer night is a criminals dream. The majority of people are much more careful than that, yet burglary is still relatively common.
We will begin with one of the most common security additions: the ever-popular, easily operated, and often helpful residential alarm system.
Home Alarm Systems
Alarm companies portray their product as a cure-all; an impenetrable force field that takes the uncertainty out of home security. In fact, it doesn’t really stop anyone from breaking in. However it will make your home a less than ideal target if you use it the correct way.
Alarms seem pretty foolproof. Install. Activate. Always turn on when leaving. Trusted persons get the pass-code, others trigger the blaring. The problem with alarms though, is that the blaring happens after the the criminal has already gained access. Somebody has already broken into your home, and has already taken whatever valuables were closest to the door and has gotten away by the time the alarm company alerts police and the cops arrive.
In this way, an alarm is mostly about peace of mind; if something does happen, help will be on the way quickly. An alarm is also effective by just simply placing a sticker on your window informing others that the house is protected by an alarm system. That means displaying that large notice with the alarm company’s name on it, and displaying it front and centre, outside the building. When people keep it hidden so as not to disturb their homes aesthetics, potential thieves don’t know the home is any less desirable than the house next door, and the alarm is only an after-the-fact security feature.
The lesson? Alarms are most effective when they’re most obvious.
Be Cautious on Social Media
If we’ve learned anything in the last decade, it’s that the Internet does not discriminate by intention. Pedophiles, hackers, and burglars get access like everybody else.
Sketchy Web-users are a fact of modern life that most of us only have to deal with in a peripheral way — unless we’re too open with sensitive information. And unless we’re unaware of which information is sensitive.
Like our vacation plans.
It all seems so harmless to update our Facebook status to let our friends know we’ve arrived in Europe for a week. We Tweet our intention to meet up for a day of hiking through the woods. We post real-time photos of our roadtrip on Instagram. We love to share our location and activities.
The issue with sharing is we can’t be entirely sure with whom we are sharing with. It’s not hard to eavesdrop on social-networking, so a robber holding a black ski mask and lock pick could be finding out we’re in Europe, on a mountain or driving cross-country; realizing he or she could break in with no chance of being caught.
Unless the neighbors are unusually alert and actively involved in your affairs. So keep your location off the social networks and on your neighbors’ radar.
Proper Hiding Places
Maybe the doormat or door frame were great places to hide a key at one time but the times have changed. Fake rocks revolutionized hiding places until thieves were aware of them and actively search for them. The fact is burglars are more intelligent and advanced in this day and age than ever before and the same old tricks just don’t work anymore.
When you hide your house key in an obvious place, you may be lowering your inconvenience in the case that you lock yourself out or need a friend to stop by when you are away, but you are increasing the chance you’ll find yourself in the much more inconvenient position of being robbed blind.
It is best not to have an extra key anywhere on your property; the best place for a spare key is with a trusted neighbor or friend.
If you must hide one, be creative. If your peers can guess your hiding place easily then find a new place.
If you are locking yourself out regularly, you might to invest in a keypad or fingerprint door lock instead of a tradition key.
Make Your Property Noticeable
The number one objective for a burglar is: Do not get caught. The first step to avoiding capture is avoiding detection in the first place.
While a large number of burglaries take place during the day, nighttime darkness is still a perfect cover for a criminal. When looking to make your house less attractive to a criminal, one of the most effective fixes is lighting, for both outdoor and indoor. It’s partly about minimizing the look of vacancy inside the house (which burglars notice), and partly about shedding light on would-be intruders outside the house.
Inside, what you need is to establish a routine and stick with it. Lots of burglars will study a target to pinpoint weak points, such as the occupants going out of town. Get a electrical timer and set the lights to go on at specific times in the morning and off at a certain time at night. That way, it’ll be harder to tell when you’re gone, whether you’re on a trip or just working late.
Outdoors, it’s all about visibility. The area immediately outside your home is the first barrier to thieves. Yard lights are great, but the solar kinds are much too faint to do much in the way of security. The non-solar 120-volt models are much better, and should be placed at specific points such as pathways and entry points. Any hiding spots, like bunches of trees or freestanding buildings, should also be very well lit. If you’re concerned about light pollution and energy being wasted, most of these lights can be hooked up to motion detectors so they only turn on when they are needed.
Invest in Strong Doors and Locks
If a thief makes it past your lighting system without giving up, you pretty much have one last chance to stop the break-in; at the point of entry.
That’s typically a door or window. For windows, locks are crucial, and burglar-proof glass is a possible upgrade.
Doors and door locks can get a little more complex. A burglar can gain entry either by kicking in the door or disabling the lock, so you want to address both of those possibilities with the equipment you choose:
The door should be made of solid wood or metal, so it withstands pressure.
The strike plate should be a heavy-duty variety, secured with 4 long screws (3 inch).
The lock should be a quality deadbolt or a knob-in-lock with a dead latch.
Do NOT try to save money on your doors and locks. Doors and locks are not something to be taken for granted, and are worth investing in purchasing expensive locks. Even if the thief learns online that you’re in Europe, ignores the alarm sign in your yard and makes it to your door without being seen, a sturdy expensive lock and a burly door can still keep him or her on the outside.