Who knows better how vulnerable your home is to a potential break-in than those who do the breaking in? In an age of ever-increasing technology, from smartphones to smart homes, it’s not surprising that criminals are stepping up their game as well. More bad guys are taking a professional, ordered approach to burglary, casing homes for days and doing research about homeowners, neighbors and neighborhoods.
Even though locking your house up tight seems like a no-brainer, there are many ways your home can remain vulnerable even if you think you’ve done all you can. A locked door is useless if you leave a spare key in an easily accessible location like under a flower pot or door mat. It’s much safer to leave a spare key with a friend or neighbor. And don’t forget about the windows. Leaving a window open even a crack can be an open invitation to a burglar. For added security make sure all windows are locked and add a wooden or metal dowel to the track to prohibit a bad guy from pushing their way in.
Clear the way
While it may look lovely to have a hedge of bushes lining the front or side of your house, those decorative shrubs can be akin to leaving out a welcome mat for a thief. Robbers love to hide out in bushes under windows and near doors. Not only does it give them a place to remain concealed, but bushes also give ne’er-do-wells the perfect vantage point to observe your comings and goings and get a peek at all the goodies you have inside that they want to take. Make sure that any landscaping is well-maintained and designed to avoid becoming either a blind spot or hidey-hole. You don’t want your ability to see what’s happening outside your house obstructed by overgrown hedges and trees.
Think outside the sock drawer
Believe it or not, burglars know that you really do hide your valuables in the sock drawer, freezer or empty cereal box, It’s surprising that even though such hiding places seem like overblown clichés, they are very common and some of the first places a burglar will look. Consider getting a safe or, better yet, move items you don’t need regular access to into a safety deposit box. The small annual fee to maintain a safety deposit box is well worth the peace of mind you’ll enjoy knowing Grandma’s pearls are safe and sound.
Be less hospitable
Dark perimeters and nicely paved driveways just beckon a burglar to take a closer look at your home. Outside lighting is crucial, and listed as one of the best deterrents for keeping thieves away. Look into flood lights that are triggered by motion – nothing’s more off-putting to a bad guy than being in the spotlight. In addition, a gravel driveway or pathway is another way to make burglars think twice. Since you can hear their footsteps, it might be enough to make them feel like your house isn’t worth the risk.
Fight fire with fire
The bad guys are getting more sophisticated and professional, so it’s time for you to do the same. One of the best ways to ensure ongoing security for your belongings and family is to install an alarm system. There are a variety of options available to meet your budget and security needs. From a DIY system you can set up on your own to a professionally installed alarm with round-the-clock monitoring, there’s really no reason to risk going without. And an alarm system is one of the biggest ways to tell burglars to stay away. With video monitoring and live links to local police, it’s just not worth it for a burglar to take the chance with a home that’s protected professionally.
Is your home sending the wrong signals to burglars?
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Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more