Research shows most burglars are between the ages of 15 and 24 and live within a mile or two of their targets. Many scope out homes beforehand. Some even pair up with service people whose occupations can give them access to a house.
Burglars want to be in and out of a house within five to seven minutes. They run through the house and in less than a minute figure out where the good stuff is. Generally they go to the master bedroom first – that’s where most people keep jewelry and cash. Offices are also hot spots because of computer equipment.
The homes that tend to be safer are the ones that are in cul-de-sacs (the layout prevents an easy getaway) and those located on street corners (more visibility). And it’s not necessarily true that prowlers will stay away from a property if you have a dog. But a barking dog can help draw attention to a burglary.
If you’ve been burglarized once, there is reason to worry. There’s about a 30 percent chance you’ll fall victim again within a few months. Thieves assume you’ll have new stuff by then, plus they already know how to get in.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your chances of a break-in.
Landscaping. Keep landscaping low around doors and windows so as not to provide cover for people trying to figure out how to get in.
Alarms. Install an alarm and flaunt it with a sign on the lawn or in a window.
Pet doors. Get rid of pet doors. A burglar could send a child through a dog door to unlock the main door. Also, keep the garage door closed, and lock the entrance between the garage and the house.
Dead bolts. Put dead bolts that go into the door frame 1.5 inches. As for sliding doors, don’t prop a broomstick in the track. Burglars can still lift the door off its track. You’re better off installing a lock that goes through the doorframe. Your windows are fine with standard locks, but avoid burglar bars, as they can be a fire hazard.
Safes. If you want a safe, buy a fireproof model, the heaviest possible, and bolt it to the floor. If you’re going on vacation, the best thing to do is put valuables in a bank safe deposit box.
Vacations. When going on vacation, create an “illusion of occupancy.” Enlist a neighbor to park his car in your driveway at night, bring the garbage can to and from the curb (make sure there’s trash in there), and shovel the driveway if it snows. Also smart: Mow the lawn so it doesn’t get overgrown, and have newspaper and mail delivery put on hold. Install outdoor motion-sensor lights, and put a couple of indoor lights on timers so the house is lit from dusk until 11 P.M. For insurance purposes, keep documentation of all your belongings.
Social media. Don’t advertise on social media that you’re on vacation. You’re essentially telling the world that you’re leaving the house unattended. Wait until you get home to make posts about your trip.