data about home safety and what criminals are looking for, and now we're going to protect you. Here are 10 strategies to focus on, “hardening the target,” to make your home imminently safer.
We’ll start with the easiest and most frequent access point for home thieves – your doors. In fact, the vast majority of burglars come right through the front or back doors. Usually all it takes is a well-placed kick to get through the door, because no matter how big or solid it is, it’s only as strong as the kick plate and locking mechanism. So install solid core or metal exterior doors with reinforced strike plates. Try to avoid doors with glass windows, or make sure they are made out of a shatterproof material. Install a wide-angle peephole so you can see who’s knocking – or who is hiding. Sliding glass doors should have an extra locking mechanism so they can’t be easily pried open, and a dowel in the slider or metal track blocker.
Windows are the second most common access point for burglars, but they usually don’t have to use force or break anything to get in. Homeowners leave windows open or unlocked all the time, especially in warmer weather months, and thieves can easily scoot in and then let themselves out with your valuable possessions. Most windows are built with latches, but they don’t really deter burglars. So install secondary locks on all windows – including those on the second floor. They have locking mechanisms that allow you to keep your window ajar for airflow, but not open wide enough for someone to get in. If you have horizontal sliders, you can use dowels and track blockers just like sliding glass doors.
The main concern of a thief is to scout out your home in a very short time while remaining inconspicuous. You make it easy for them to accomplish this when you have overgrown bushes, trees, and landscaping that block the view from the street. So trim everything back and so their suspicious behavior will be exposed.
Set up exterior lighting that is bright and casts a wide angle. Put these on motion sensors but make sure they are higher than a person can reach (so they can’t be disabled). Put a few interior and exterior lights on timers to keep thieves guessing if anyone is home.
5. Alarm system.
You spend a lot of money on your home and even more on all of the nice thins inside, but remember that your family is your most priceless thing in your life. So it makes a lot of sense to invest in a quality alarm system to protect them. There are many different options for al budgets and needs – including monitoring services, video surveillance you can monitor remotely, and DIY systems. You might even get a discount on homeowners insurance by having an alarm and definitely, whether you have a system installed yet or now, put up alarm warning stickers on windows and doors and hang a few fake cameras.
6. A dog.
Thieves are deterred by home security measures and technology, but they’re downright afraid of dogs! So keep Fido roaming the house during the night and in plain site of the front yard during the day. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can make a thief think you do! Put Beware of Dog stickers and yard signs out, a small dog door on a side door, and a dog bowl and few chew toys out near back or side doors you feel are vulnerable.
What does social media have to do with your home? You’d be shocked how much a person could learn about you, your family, your routines, and your personal information on your Facebook, Instagram, or social media pages – including exactly where you live. Once they have your address and see you check in at your favorite restaurant, they know the coast is clear. Be very careful who you add as a friend, what information is public, and be discreet about your whereabouts. Don’t check in at home or take photos that reveal your home with the address numbers showing.
It’s not hard for a robber to know when you’re on vacation – and take advantage by breaking in. So try not to reveal exact travel plans on your social media sites, have the post office hold your mail, put your newspaper on hold, hire a local teen to come water your plants and leave a car in the driveway, alert neighbors, and keep lights and even the stereo or TV on timers to make the home appear lived in.
9. The mailbox.
A burglar doesn’t have to even get inside your home to rob you blind – they only need to get into your mailbox. Just by reaching in after the mailman, they can access sensitive financial documents and steal your identity. In fact, identity and financial theft is the fastest growing crime in America, and one in every eight people will be impacted any year. So keep a mailbox with a lock, big enough for the postman to slip through mail or very small packages but secure from “grabby” thieves passing by.
10. Neighbors and community.
No matter how much time goes by or how much technology we develop, I believe our best asset is still people. Get to know your neighbors and ask them to communicate if there’s anything suspicious or out of the ordinary at your home. Give them your cell and work numbers in case of emergency and alert them to your travel plans. You can also get involved with the Neighborhood Watch program and community development organizations, and if one doesn’t exist, found your own chapter!