A burglar takes more than your stuff when he breaks in. He takes your peace of mind. He robs you of your sense of security in your own home. Once you’ve had your very own property violated in that way, you’ll never feel as safe again. You might get a new TV or a new laptop, but you won’t get a renewed sense of safety. Sure, over time, you’ll feel better and safer, but you won’t ever feel completely secure again. And that’s a sad day when you can’t feel safe in your own home.
That’s why you must do everything you can to deter burglars in the first place. Thinking like a burglar can help, because once you see what they see, you can take steps to make their job harder and your home safer.
Below are five things that will make your house more attractive to a burglar, and ways to deter them.
No one’s home, nor expected any time soon? Perfect! And how does the burglar know this? A quiet dark house with newspapers piled on the front porch and grass growing high is a sure sign that no one’s home and hasn’t been for a while. But even if you’re only gone for the day at work, not to Hawaii for vacation, your absence can be obvious to the trained eye. Think about it: no cars in the driveway, no lights on, no sound, no one coming or going out the front door, no one moving inside of the house…it’s pretty easy to spot an empty—and therefore easy—target.
Deterrent: If you’re just gone for the day, make sure neighbors pick up any packages left on the front porch, some lights are on, and a radio or TV is making noise. This is especially true in the winter with the shorter days, because it could very well be dark long before you get home from the office. (If you’re gone for more than a day, see our tips for keeping your home safe while on vacation.)
If a bold burglar can peak through your window and see temptations galore, you’ve just made him or her that much more determined to break in.
Deterrent: Hide the loot. Purses, laptops, your grandmother’s silver candlesticks…anything that says “steal me” should probably be hidden by drapes or stashed away out of sight.
Ease of access.
Leaving your door unlocked is about the same thing as posting a sign that says, “Welcome, and come on in!” as far as a burglar is concerned. An unlocked window is almost as inviting. And having locks that are easily jiggled and jerry rigged is basically equivalent to having no locks at all.
Deterrent: Lock all doors and windows, and when we say lock, we mean lock, with deadbolts on doors and making sure windows aren’t easily forced open. This applies to first and second story windows both, because a determined burglar will find a way up a tree or ladder if he wants to.
If you have a yard with plenty of shadows and hiding places, say shrubbery along the walls or a detached garage half hidden in the dark, you’re making it really easy for a burglar to sneak around undetected.
Deterrent: Keep the lights on and the dog loud, even if your dog is just a recording of one (or many). Motion-detection lights can be great for suddenly surprising—and deterring—a would-be burglar, and so can the loud bark of your dog.
Here’s an irony: The lack of a home security system can mean your burglar feels more secure (while in reality you’re less so).
Deterrent: Get a home security system installed pronto, and keep your home security system signs well displayed, so they’re obvious in the daytime and lit up to be easily seen at night too.
There’s no magic formula for keeping a burglar out and your property (and well-being) safe. But if you can think like a burglar and view your house in that way, then take steps to prevent a break in, you’ll do a lot more to protect yourself, your family, your belongings…and your peace of mind.