Inviting someone into your home to make a few repairs seems harmless. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for repairmen to return as burglars. They use the opportunity to come into your home in the name of a repair, only to return later to steal things they spotted in your home.
According to the FBI, home burglary is the most common threat to a home, with a burglary in the U.S. occurring every 13 seconds. To help prevent that from happening, you should have a monitored security system installed in your home. And if you’re getting repairs done around the house, there are some preventive steps to help protect your home from repairmen turned burglars.
1. Never leave a key for anyone. Don’t leave a key for a repairman to use to enter your home. If you can’t be home during the repair time, reschedule the appointment or get a trusted family member or friend to be home during the service call. Leaving a key for the repairman to come into your home opens you up to potential problems, such as not returning the key or leaving and making a copy. It’s much easier to enter a home with a key than it is to forcibly enter. Don’t make a crime easy by handing out your house key. On the same note, don’t leave a spare key out either. Potential burglars will look for spare keys in obvious hiding spots, like in a light fixture or under a rock or door mat.
2. Keep your valuables out of sight. When you know someone is coming over to make a repair, keep your valuables out of sight. This includes locking up your jewelry and medications, putting electronics away, as well as putting purses out of sight. When you aren’t looking, these types of items are small enough that they could easily be slipped into a backpack or taken without notice. Some of the places where you can hide valuables might include a safe, a room where workers won’t go and that has a door to close, and drawers/closets. As soon as the repairs are finished, you can bring your items out and use them as you normally would.
3. Be aware of what’s happening in your home. Try to eliminate distractions so you can pay attention to where the workers are and what they’re doing. If possible, eliminate time spent watching TV, talking of the phone, checking the Internet, or making dinner. The more aware you can be why the repair is taking place, the safer you will be.
4. Be aware of scams. Unfortunately, there are many repairmen scams that circulate. At least a few times every year, police officers get reports from homeowners who fall victim to a home repair scam. These scams are usually ways to check out your home for a ruse-entry burglary. Some popular scams include:
A person claiming to be a city employee or emergency worker.
A solicitor claiming to offer low-price repairs.
An unmarked truck or work van driving around the neighborhood.
If allowed inside your home, the burglar will work to distract you so you don’t notice you’re being robbed. Often times, this type of burglary happens in pairs where one person distracts and another takes valuables. Seniors tend to be most susceptible to home repair scams.
5. Have people you know/trust do home repairs. Whenever possible, hire a repairman that you know and trust. If you know the person, you’re less likely to get taken advantage of. If you do not personally know someone who can handle the repair/service, ask for a recommendation from a friend or family member. You should always confirm references with others and/or call the Better Business Bureau to find out more about the company. In today’s world, you can never be too careful about who you let into your home. Incorporate these five tips to help protect you and your family the next time you need a repair done.