Don’t Let Your Home Be a Target for Thieves

Adapted from FashionBean, authored by Mary Pimmel-Freeman

Coming home to find your house has been broken into is a nightmare no one wants to experience.

A recent study conducted interviews with several convicted burglars and their answers reveal what makes a home an easy target for burglaries. If any of these apply to you, try to make some safety improvements as soon as you can!

  1. Your house is empty during the day.

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Thieves prefer robbing a home during the day when no one is home. Some will watch a neighborhood for a few days to observe when and if homes are vacant during the day.  Others may just casually knock on the door to confirm no one is home.

2. You leave your windows and doors unlocked.

One thief stated that he often went into an unlocked back door. Another said he concentrated on college student’s dorm rooms, taking game systems, laptops and bikes, because students were notoriously careless about locking their doors.

While locked doors and windows don’t guarantee your safety, it will help deter any thieves that are looking for an easy target.

3. Home Security

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Thieves can still kick a door in, but a thief looking for an easy target won’t want to attract attention by doing this. Installing a steel door is the ultimate way to keep your front entrance safe.

4. You let your mail pile up while you’re on vacation.

This is an open invitation for a burglar looking for an easy break in.

If you’re trying to show that your house is occupied while on vacation, be careful that you don’t overdo it. One burglar said he knew a house was unoccupied when the homeowner left every light and TV on 24/7.  It’s best to leave just one light and one TV on when you leave.

5. You have an easily accessible backyard.

backyeard-offers-easily-accessible-entry
Thieves want unseen easy in and out, and will choose the most convenient way to enter your home. Going in through a back window offers the best privacy, so a fenced backyard will make it difficult to gain access to the back of your house.  They don’t like scaling 6 or 8 ft fences.  The more you can do to slow down a thief, the more likely he is to pass by your house and keep looking for one with easy access.

6. You have a thief in your midst.

It may surprise you to know that most homes are not burglarized by strangers. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that 66% of burglaries are committed by someone who knows the victim.

One person described this phenomenon: “Sketchy son-in-law. Jealous neighbor. Drug addict daughter. These are the people most likely to burglarize your house, so be cautious about letting others know about upcoming travel plans. Try to hide information about your whereabouts from them. Don’t post your upcoming trip to Belize on Facebook where they can see it.”

7. You make it obvious that you have valuables.

The same article from the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing said that thieves are looking for the greatest potential rewards. You need to limit the visibility of your valuables and make it hard for them to be seen from outside.

So, keep your expensive stuff out of sight. Your 70″ flat screen TV should not be visible from the street. Your MacBook Pro shouldn’t be kept right in front of your first floor office window. It also helps to keep less obvious valuables in a safe place. Thieves admit to checking the master bedroom first for jewelry, cash, and other valuables. Consider putting your prized items in safer locations and in a safe that’s bolted to the floor.

Remember, burglars do not like being in a home long. These simple precautionary steps can slow thieves down and potentially prevent more things from being taken.

8. Your home is in a convenient location.

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing at the University of Albany also said that burglars pick homes that are convenient hits. They might look for a home with an easy getaway to a major thoroughfare, but they also like homes on the outskirts of neighborhoods where they have less chance of being seen by neighbors.

Thieves may also prioritize a home that has an entrance within easy access of an alley or street. Lack of visibility is another key factor burglars look for. Thieves are going to pick houses that have obscured entrances.

Corner houses with neighbors on only one side and houses that are concealed or covered by trees or architectural designs are more likely to be robbed. Houses that are hidden from the neighbors are easy targets—nobody’s there to catch them. Having poor lighting on and around your home can also make you less safe.

9. You forget to close and lock your garage door.

This falls into the same category as forgetting to lock your front and back doors. People may forget to close their garage door after they go inside or while they’re in the backyard mowing the lawn. Another individual noted that “thieves like to drive around nice neighborhoods, looking for people who left their garage open. They love a situation where someone might be mowing their backyard. They’ll quickly hop out of the car, run into the garage, grab as many tools, bicycles, etc as they can, and run.”

10. You don’t have an alarm system.

Alarm systems may be expensive, but they are a great way to keep thieves at bay. Most burglars agree that hearing an actual alarm would be enough for them to leave a home immediately.

11. You don’t have a dog.

Some serious thieves said if they had already cased a house, they wouldn’t let a dog keep them from breaking in, but others said that dogs would definitely keep them from breaking in when they want a quick, easy hit.

One burglar said, “People think a large dog would be a good deterrent, but I generally avoided those annoying small yapping dogs that never shut up. Get a dog that doesn’t like strangers. I don’t care if it’s big or small or threatening or friendly. As soon as one dog barks, the whole neighborhood starts barking and announcing a burglar’s presence.”

But be responsible. Don’t let security be the only reason you would consider getting a dog.  You are making a lifetime commitment to provide affection, care and a happy forever home to a new dog.  If you’re not able or willing to take on this kind of responsibility, then don’t get a dog.

12. And finally, get rid of that hidden key under the welcome mat!

I love to provide my clients and friends with helpful information regarding home ownership.  If you follow the tips on this list, you will be well on your way to having a safer home. Call me if you’re thinking of buying or selling a house this year.  The months of February and March are great for listing your home.  You’ll beat the active spring rush, and buyers who are looking at the market now are motivated.  They want to beat the competition of the spring selling season too!

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