Someone wanting to burglarize your home will look for an easy target. Most burglars want to break in quickly, get something valuable, and then leave without anyone noticing.

While there’s no fail-proof way to keep a burglar out of your home, there are some simple steps you can take to help protect your home and family from a potential break-in.

1. Get a dog.

A big dog with a loud bark is helpful when deterring theft. A burglar doesn’t want to run the risk of being bitten and the bark will scare the thief away. Big dogs tend to be the most threatening, but even a small dog can do the trick. Small dogs have loud barks and sharp teeth – both are unwelcoming to an intruder.

If you’re not a dog person or just don’t want the care that comes with a pet, you can still use a dog’s bark to deter a burglar. You can set up a recording that goes off when the doorbell rings or you can put up a Beware of Dog sign. The recording or the sign aren’t as effective as a physical dog, but something is better than nothing.

2. Install outdoor lighting.

Criminals are on the lookout for homes to break into that seem empty. If it looks like nobody is home, your house could be a target. Outdoor lighting can help reduce the risk by lighting up dark areas, even when you are out. Install motion detector lights in the front and back of your house. The lights use infrared detection to switch on when someone comes near. If the burglar can be seen, they’ll leave. If possible, position the lights on corners and make sure the lights are positioned high enough that they can’t be disabled.

3. Keep the yard trimmed up.

A beautiful yard with large, tall trees and flowering bushes is nice for the senses, but it also creates ideal hiding places for a burglar. Yards with less shrubbery and more open spaces aren’t as appealing to a burglar. Trim all shrubs and trees back so they can’t conceal a burglar. You may also consider planting prickly bushes with thorns around windows or doors.

In addition to keeping trees and shrubs trimmed, you’ll also want to look around the yard for any potential theft situations. Don’t leave tools out in the open and be sure to put any ladders or stackable boxes away after you use them. Keep your patio furniture away from the house as well, as the furniture could easily be used as a step tool to enter a window.

4. Protect your home when you’re on vacation.

When you go on vacation, it’s a prime-time for your house to be broken into. The best way to prevent theft while you are off enjoying the tropics or zipping down the ski slopes is to not announce your vacation plans on social media. Sure, it’s natural and exciting to want to tell your friends about your trip, but this can also alert thieves to an empty home. Even with the highest levels of security in place on your social media accounts, you run the risk of someone you don’t know seeing your information. Don’t “check-in” while you are on vacation, wait until you are home to post pictures, and don’t announce your travel dates on any social media site.

You want to make your house looked lived-in, even when you are away. Some tips to make it look like you are home include:

  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery. An overflowing mailbox is a sure sign nobody is home.
  • Ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway at random times.
  • Set lights on timers to come on at different times during the evening and throughout the night.

5. Don’t advertise your valuables.

You have a lot of nice items in your house that you want to keep out of the wrong hands. Keep your valuables like computers, electronic equipment, and jewelry out of sight. If you have a large TV near a window, consider drawing the blinds or adding curtains. If you’ve just purchased a new video gaming system, don’t leave the box on the curb for garbage pickup. You may also consider moving valuables from the bedroom. Thieves know that jewelry and cash are often kept in the bedroom and will go to that room first for a quick haul.

Following these five easy tips may help you prevent a home break-in. Use common sense and enlist the help of neighbors where possible to keep your home and neighborhood safe and worry free. What items would you add to the list?

Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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