Residential burglary is a concern any time of the year, but particularly around the holidays. The last thing you want is to wake up to find all of your Christmas presents (along with many of your other belongings) have been stolen. The fact is, thieves target homes during the holidays more than any other time of the year, and any house that looks like it might have even a small amount of consumer goods of some worth in it is a potential site for a break-in.
Of course, you want to prevent burglary all year long. According to the FBI, residential burglaries accounted for 74 percent of all burglaries in the United States in 2013. Professional thieves stake out neighborhoods, sometimes for a long time, before deciding on which houses to target. Once they break in, they usually hit more than one house on the same street. That is why you often hear of a rash of break ins in a particular neighborhood.
What thieves do when staking out a neighborhood is to determine which houses look like they have affluent residents. They look for expensive cars in the driveway, expensive vinyl privacy fences, new paint jobs, a house that has recently had new construction (such as a roof replacement) done, and people coming and going who are dressed in expensive clothes. They then determine the usual schedule of the people living in the house. They pay attention to comings and goings for days or weeks at a time before making a move. They may even test the waters to make sure no one stays at home all day by knocking on the door under some sales or survey pretense.
Once they have pinpointed their targets, thieves make their moves, and they make them quickly. They break in where they will be less likely to be noticed, such as in unlighted areas after dark, or in the back of the house during the day. If they are very bold, they may come right to the front door with a moving truck. This works well in neighborhoods where it is clear to the thieves that the neighbors don’t know each other very well (or at all). They look for signs of socialization between neighbors in determining how to approach the burglary.
Of course, these are the tactics of professional thieves who usually work in groups. It doesn’t take into consideration the lone thief who is desperate for some extra cash or anything he can sell to get cash, usually for drugs or to pay off gambling debts (or some other nefarious purpose). These thieves are more dangerous, as they are less cautious about which houses the break into.
They generally don’t care if anyone sees them doing it, and they don’t bother checking if anyone is at home before trying to gain entry. It is your job to secure your home against both kinds of thieves. Keep them out and keep you, your family, pets, and belongings safe and secure at all times. The good news is that it only takes a few easy steps to make sure your house is protected in every way possible.
What You Can Do
The first thing you should do is to get a professional security system installed. Then, make sure you actually use it. Sometimes, even just having a security company’s sign in your yard will be enough to deter thieves. They don’t want to risk setting off an alarm. This goes for both professional thieves and lone ones. A home burglary is far less likely to occur at a home that has a professional security system.
Getting double-paned glass on your windows is also a good idea. This glass is much harder to break than traditional glass. Other good tips for preventing a break in include:
- Keeping your outside lights on after dark. Thieves usually don’t want to be seen, so make sure they can be easily spotted anywhere around your house.
- Getting a guard dog. Just the sound of a dog barking inside is often enough to send thieves scrambling away.
- Keeping your cars parked in the garage, rather than in the driveway or on the street. A lot of people use their garages for storage. However, if you have an expensive car and you leave it parked where it is visible, it may make your house more attractive to thieves who think you have money and expensive consumer goods inside.
- Installing an exterior security camera. Thieves may be deterred if they see it, especially if it is too high for them to reach and remove easily. If your house is broken into, the security footage may help catch the culprits.
- Getting an electronic lock for all of your exterior doors. This is the latest in lock technology, and your local residential locksmith can install them for you. The lock works by scanning the fingerprint of anyone who is entered into the lock’s system as an authorized user. No one else will be able to use the lock, and it is virtually unbreakable. Thieves will have a hard time getting into your house through any door if you have one of these new models.
If you have already suffered a break in at some point in the past, you should call a locksmith immediately. Your locks must always be changed if someone has broken into your house, regardless of how they got inside. You don’t know if they managed to make an impression of your lock to use to copy your key while they were there. In addition to adding extra security features to your home, which should also be a top priority after a break in, getting new locks on all of your exterior doors is a true “must.”
You don’t have to put yourself at risk for a burglary at your home. There are steps you can take to minimize, and even virtually eliminate, your risk. Take the appropriate precautions, add the proper security features, and you will always have a good reason to feel safe and secure in your home, and to know it is protected when you’re away from it.