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April 30th, 2013
9 Ways to Protect Your Home From Burglars
If you think you're not at risk of being a victim of
burglary, think again. If there's an opportunity to invade your home, no
matter who you are or where you live, burglars will take the chance.
"Burglaries are considered 'crimes of opportunity' because the
criminal is looking for the easy way to get into your home - the
unlocked door, open garage door or open window," says Charlene Miller,
Crime Prevention Neighborhood Watch director at the Boise Police
Fortunately, "There are practical security measures you can take to
make it so difficult for burglars that they'll go somewhere else,"
Want to learn what these measures are? Here are nine things you can
do to make burglars think twice before trying to enter your home.
#1 - Secured Doors and Windows
In approximately one-third of home burglaries the burglar comes in
through an unlocked door or window, according to the "Burglary of Single
Family Houses"guide, published by the U.S. Department of Justice's
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
"The first line of defense in your home's security is having solid
core exterior doors with high quality grade 1 or 2 deadbolt locks,"
Miller states. "French doors can be secured with a quality deadbolt lock
and a slide bolt penetrating the upper or lower doorframe."
Miller notes that sliding glass doors are especially vulnerable if
they do not have proper locks, so check with the manufacturer for the
"A snug-fitting dowel (a piece of cylindrical wood - similar to a
broom handle) in the lower track of the door will also prevent it from
being opened." Miller also recommends installing eyebolts in the frames
of sliding windows to allow for ventilation without leaving enough room
for an intruder.
#2 - A Loud Dog
Dogs are not only "man's best friend." They can also be a burglar's worst enemy.
In fact, COPS reports that most burglars avoid houses with dogs.
"Burglars don't want to be seen or caught; they also want to avoid
pain," agrees Miller, who adds that dogs that bark - even small, noisy
dogs - can be an effective deterrent.
And while you might feel safer with a large dog that could do bodily
harm, like a German Shepherd, Miller says the most important aspect is
having a dog that sounds an alarm with its bark.
#3 - A Home Security System
If you want something that not only makes noise when there's an
intruder, but also calls for help, consider installing a home security
system. Home security systems detect when someone enters your house
uninvited, sets off an alarm, and also notifies authorities of an
"If you have valuables that need protection, rampant burglaries in
your area, and are away from home for long stretches, a home security
system could be a good option for you," says Miller.
She recommends doing some online research and checking with local
alarm system companies to find the best system for your needs.
#4 - Motion Sensor Lights
Installing sensor lights (which turn on when they detect motion) is a
great way to illuminate portions of your property only when needed -
like when someone enters the area.
Sensor lights will come on as soon as someone enters under cover of darkness - as a burglar would.
"Outside lighting is one of the cheapest and most effective
deterrents to crime," states Miller, who adds that "motion sensor lights
give you the ease of having lights come on automatically."
#5 - Surveillance Cameras
A video surveillance system can be a bit costly, but it could help you sleep better at night.
"Installing a video security system can give you peace of mind and
act as a deterrent to burglars, especially when you're on vacation,"
However, if you don't want to go the full route of installing a
system, think about putting up a "dummy" camera or two to give the
illusion of protection. And while Miller agrees installing a "dummy"
camera could intimidate a burglar, she says the downside is it can't
provide evidence if a burglary occurs.
#6 - Protection Warning Signs
Got a dog or a home security system? Share that information with
signage on your fence, door, or window. Much like putting up security
cameras, letting a burglar know you are well protected makes you less of
"It's important to look at your home from a burglar's point of view,"
shares Miller. "Burglars who think they might be seen or caught will
think twice before targeting your house."
Miller cautions that while having this kind of signage can be to your
advantage, it could also make burglars wonder what you have that's
#7 - A Trimmed and Tidy Yard
Untrimmed trees and shrubs provide good hiding places for burglars and can obscure their entry into your home.
To get a better sense of what she means, Miller suggests the
following: "Stand out on your front sidewalk and take an objective look
at your house. Do you have trees or shrubs providing hiding places for
someone?" If so, Miller recommends trimming tree branches up to six feet
from the ground and shrubs down to below window sills.
A shaggy lawn - especially one that's usually trimmed - can also
indicate to a burglar that you're likely on vacation, or simply away on
business for a prolonged period of time. Consider hiring someone to mow
your lawn if you're going to be out of town for more than a week.
#8 - The Appearance that Someone is Home
Burglars know your routine, and when there's a break in that routine -
like when you're on vacation - it's a signal that your home is clear
for a break-in.
With that in mind, Miller says that "the goal when you're gone is for your home to appear lived in."
To accomplish this, Miller suggests using motion-sensor lights and
timers on your radio and TV to simulate occupancy and create the
illusion that you're home.
Corvallis, Oregon home insurance professional, Bonnie Lundy, agrees:
"Anything you can do to make your home look occupied while you're away
is a good thing - and timed electronics are great for that."
She does caution, however, that burglars are aware people use timers, and recommends some variation in the pattern.
#9 - Helpful Neighbors
We just talked about making your home look lived in while you're
away. And while simulating occupancy can get tricky, the good news is
you can enlist help. The best recruits? Your neighbors.
Whenever you're away, Lundy highly recommends asking your neighbors
to get your mail and newspapers, and check for any deliveries. Miller
also recommends asking them to put garbage bags in your garbage can.
And that's not all. You should also "ask a trusted neighbor to park
their vehicle in your driveway occasionally while you're out of town,"
Any sign of activity at your home is enough to deter most burglars - who count on an empty house.