Home ownership is all fun and games until someone breaks in and steals your credit cards. Don’t be a target for burglars! There are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a residential break-in. This genre of home improvement may not be glamorous, but preventive safety is a must for all homeowners. The FBI reported almost seven million property-related crimes for 2019 (the most recent data available). There is a silver lining, though, as the United States Department of Justice has reported a downward trend in property crimes since 2014. Could this decrease in theft be the result of diligent homeowners getting proactive with home safety? Take the following steps to stack the odds in your favor when it comes to protecting your property.
Deadbolts – More than half of all home invasions happen when the burglar enters through a door. According to Frontpoint Home Security, the actual number is between 50 – 75%, and this includes break-ins where a window is also broken. Deadbolts are essential to home security, so don’t cheap-out on this one. According to a study by consumer reports, spending about $10 more for a reinforced strike plate significantly reduces the chance that your door will be kicked in during an attempted break-in. Manual deadbolts are effective against forced entry, and so are electronic versions (more on those later).
Window Locks – Window locks provide two benefits. First, they help with child safety by preventing little hands from opening a window wide enough to climb or fall out. Second, the window cannot be fully opened from the outside when the locks are engaged. This means that a thief would have to break the glass to enter through a window, resulting in a loud noise that could attract attention.
Basic Visual – Look at your home from the street, alley, and/or driveway. Does the landscaping or outdoor furniture block your view to the entry points? If so, you may want to consider removing any visual obstructions. Burglars might favor a point of entry that cannot be seen by neighbors or passers-by. Also, make sure you have a clear view from the inside out, especially near doorways where you will exit the property and receive visitors.
Motion Lights – Most home invasions happen during daylight hours, but some do happen after dark. Motion lights can help deter nighttime criminals from snooping around your house and vehicles.
Intuition – If something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut. Don’t open the door for someone who seems suspicious. Yes, their intentions are probably good, but any reasonable person will understand your instinct to protect yourself and your property. Also, get to know your neighbors and look out for one another.
Social Media Awareness – Post vacation pictures after the vacation, not during. There is no reason that the world needs to know when your home is unoccupied.
Deadbolts with Remote and/or Keyless Options – These are the electronic versions of the classic manual deadbolt. Keyless entry could be accessed with a code that the home owner enters directly into the lock, or may involve Bluetooth and/or WiFi technology. Smart locks with remote entry can be controlled from an app using your phone or tablet. This is helpful if you forget to lock your doors when leaving home or if you want to grant someone access without giving them the manual code.
Motion Sensors – Motion sensors are usually included with a larger home security and monitoring package, though they can function as stand-alone units with alarms. Good motion sensors will detect human movement while avoiding “false alarms” due to pets, wind, or other non-intrusions.
Interior and Exterior Cameras – Home security cameras are commonly offered as add-ons to home security packages. They usually involve smart technology and can be monitored via live feed from a remote location. Some cameras include motion detectors to alert the homeowner to movement in the home during preset hours. Video doorbells are a form of outdoor motion detection and video that has become popular in recent years.
Automatic/Remote Lighting – Smart lights are controlled with a timer, app, or computer software. A homeowner can turn on, turn off, or dim lights from a remote location, creating the illusion that a home is occupied.
Smart Detectors – Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have advanced over the past decade. Battery life for most newer models is ten years and upgraded versions will even call the fire department in the case of a suspected emergency.
Professional Home Monitoring – The home security market is robust with companies offering all of the products and services listed above. If an alarm is triggered, a home security company, such as ADT or Frontpoint, will typically try to communicate with the homeowner and can call the local police department in case of a suspected break-in. Home security companies will also call for help when they determine that an occupant of the home is in distress or may be the victim of a crime in progress.
If you’ve recently moved but still own your previous home, enlist the help of your Realtor. He or she can do routine inspections of your property. Also, keep home security devices and monitoring service in place until the property changes ownership.
If you’ve made any of the updates listed above, advise your homeowner’s insurance agent. They may be able to offer a premium discount based on the reduced risk of theft and property damage.
Car break-ins are tragically common (and costly!) Park your car in the garage if possible. If you must park in the street or driveway, keep your car locked, especially at night. Do not leave valuables in plain sight. Don’t leave valuables in the car if possible. Be a good citizen and offer outdoor video footage to any of your neighbors who may have been the victim of a break-in.
Home security is big business, and for good reason. Property damage and theft are common crimes, costing homeowners time and energy. A home break-in is a scary situation that leaves a frustrating aftermath of cleanup, repair, and psychological healing. No one is ever at-fault for being the victim of a home invasion, but there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood that your property will become a target. Stay diligent. Look out for yourself and your neighbors and keep enjoying the home you love.
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