Coming home to find that you have been robbed of expensive and irreplaceable items is something we hope no one ever has to go through.
Unfortunately, burglaries may be more common than you think. According to a list of 2018 crime statistics published by the FBI, a burglary occurs around every 25 seconds in the U.S. Even if you live in a seemingly “good” area, your home may still be a target for burglars. More burglaries occur in rural areas than they do in city hubs, which is contrary to what most people tend to assume.
So, you may be wondering how to stop burglars from targeting your home. This guide should provide useful tips on deterring burglars and understanding what to do if you believe someone is attempting to enter your home illegally.
Theft isn’t always a spur-of-the-moment decision. Burglars are often categorized into two types:
1. The professional. Professional burglar plans their heist ahead of time and analyzes their target’s home and the habits of its residents.
2. The opportunist. The opportunist burglar is more of an amateur. They will see a vulnerable property and decide to break into it spontaneously.
Both types of burglars are dangerous. They can leave behind serious damage and steal invaluable possessions.
In this section, we’ll focus on the professional burglar. This kind of burglar tends to be a very smart individual with a well-thought-out plan.
Some homes stand out as easy targets for burglars. Here are some things that burglars look for when deciding if a house is worth breaking into:
An Empty House.
While it’s inevitable that you won’t be home all the time, criminals tend to target empty homes. They can confirm that a home is empty by studying your and your family’s daily habits, or they can knock on your doors to verify that no one is home during their planned break-in. Instead of staying home all day to protect your house, there are security measures you can take that we’ll explore later on in this article.
Unlocked Doors and Windows.
While this may seem like common sense, many people forgo locking their home doors and windows. Some people are far too trusting, while others are ignorant of the potential consequences. Some assume it’s okay to leave a new or hard-to-access door unlocked. Remember that just because you don’t use it a lot doesn’t mean that a burglar won’t find their way to it.
A Window Air Conditioning Unit.
While you may rely on a window AC unit to keep your home cool in the warmer months, this can be a serious home security risk. Criminals can kick in the unit for easy and undetectable entry to your home. We recommend ditching your AC unit and investing in central air to ensure your home’s security.
Obvious Luxury Items.
Some people unnecessarily flaunt the expensive items they own. Don’t make your flat-screen TV and other high-tech items visible from the street. We also advise moving items like cash, jewelry, brand-name clothing, and firearms from your main bedroom to a safer location. Burglars are looking for a big takeaway, so don’t give them any reason to think you have items they would want.
An Easily-Accessible Yard.
Criminals want an area they can access easily. Thieves are more likely to approach your home if you don’t have a fence. A fence is difficult to scale and can be a great burglar deterrent, so it’s worth having one installed.
Now that you understand what can make your home a target for invasions, we’ll explore some specific ways you can prevent them from occurring.
Secure Your Windows
Your doors aren’t the only point of entry for a thief. Securing your windows is a good place to start if you’re looking to deter burglars. When your windows are left accessible to anyone, you invite a burglar inside.
Take the following steps to make your windows a difficult, if not impossible, point of entry for anyone with bad intentions:
1) Invest in Locks for Your Windows
Most windows have locks already installed, but you can take additional measures to secure your window from outside threats.
Check out the different types of locks you can get for your home’s windows:
- Sash locks. Sash locks work well with double-hung windows, which can be opened from the top and bottom.
- Keyed locks. As the name implies, these locks require a key to lock and unlock them. Just keep track of all the copies you have made.
- They have hinged wedge locks. Hinged wedge locks are another type of lock ideal for double-hung windows. With hinged wedge locks, you can adjust it to partially open your window to let in fresh air while still deterring criminals.
- Pin locks. We recommend installing pin locks on your windows located on the ground floor. You can lock your window in a fully closed or ventilated position, preventing burglars from lifting and sliding it.
2) Invest in Stronger Glass
Burglars don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Make it difficult for them to enter through a window by upgrading your window’s material:
- Tempered glass. Tempered glass is around four times stronger than normal glass. It tends to crumble rather than break into jagged pieces. This is a great deterrent to burglars, as they’ll have to try harder to break your windows. And, if they succeed, they’ll make a scene with the way tempered glass windows break.
- Plexiglas. Depending on its application, Plexiglas can be anywhere between 6 to 14 times stronger than normal glass. It’s made of acrylic rather than real glass, so it’s impact-resistant.
- Polycarbonate. According to AcmePlastics.com, polycarbonate can be up to 250 times more resistant to impact than standard glass. This striking difference makes polycarbonate windows a solid choice if you want to keep burglars out.
Replacing your windows with stronger materials is a great burglar deterrent, but it can get expensive. You don’t have to do it on all of the ones in your home. Only do it on ground-level windows and other easily accessible to criminals.
3) Create A Natural Defense
Consider breaking out your gardening supplies if you want something less expensive than a fancy lock or new glass. Planting the right plants and bushes by your window can deter a burglar if done correctly. When deciding which plants to use, you should ensure they have one or more of the following main characteristics:
- Dense foliage
- Thorny stems
- Prickly leaves
- Abrasive texture
- Leaves that sting to the touch
Here are several common plants, bushes, and trees that, when positioned around windows, can deter burglars from breaking in:
- Shrub rose
- Creeping juniper
- Pencil Christmas tree
- Giant rhubarb
- Common holly
- Golden bamboo
While not infallible, planting one of these plants, bushes, or trees is a great way to deter criminals. Burglars want an easy way to get in and out, and having a natural line of defense will complicate their plans. If you don’t like any of these plants, you can use other ones that fit your yard’s specific landscape.
4) Add Window Bars
Even if a burglar manages to break through your glass, window bars are a good way to stop them from entering your home. Some homeowners are hesitant to take this safety precaution because of the unsightly appearance of window bars. Remember that your home doesn’t have to look like a prison with window bars installed; decorative options with abstract designs are available. In addition to offering aesthetic appeal, these decorative pieces can still be securely fastened to prevent a burglar’s entry.
Protect Your Home When You Go On Vacation
If someone with bad intentions notices you are absent from your home for a long, they may be more tempted to break into your home. Here are some ways to protect your home and its valuables while on vacation.
Ask Someone to Get Your Mail for You
Ask a neighbor or a friend to get your mail for you. Stop all newspaper and mail services if you don’t have anyone to ask. Ask your post office to hold your mail and cancel any unwanted magazine subscriptions. A large pile of uncollected mail signifies to a thief that your house is unoccupied and an easy target.
Don’t Forget About Lawn Care
Long, uncut grass and non-manicured landscape are telltale signs that no one is around. You can ask a neighbor to do this or recruit a lawn care company.
Remove Any Spare Keys Outdoors
Some homeowners leave a spare key outside their house, like under a doormat or in a potted plant. While we don’t recommend you practice this habit when you’re around, we highly suggest you remove these spares before going on vacation. If one is left out while you’re gone, a thief will have a reasonable chance to search your property for an easy way inside.
Lock Your Garage
Some garages offer an entrance to homes while others don’t. Either way, you should check to ensure your garage is locked before you leave for a trip. Lock your garage to prevent valuable tools and other items from being stolen.
Set Up Timed Interior Lights
Timed interior lights are a great way to fake your presence at home. If thieves notice your house is always dark, they will assume no one is home. You don’t need to have interior lights on a timer installed in every room. Interior lights in main rooms like the kitchen, living room, and master bedrooms are some of the best burglar deterrents.
If you can control your timed lights from your phone, consider changing the time your lights come on every once in a while. This way, an observant thief who’s carefully studying your house won’t be able to tell your lights are on a set timer.
Keep Valuables Out of Sight
Don’t leave any valuables in plain sight. Double-check that your credit cards, cash, jewelry, firearms, and other valuable possessions are stored in a safe or secured, out-of-sight area.
Don’t Advertise Your Absence
If you want to post about your trip on social media, make sure your profile can only be seen by people you trust. If your social media profiles are public, we recommend holding off on posting about your trip until after you get back.
Consider Getting a Dog
If you’ve been on the fence about getting a family pet, know that a big dog can be a great burglar deterrent. Large, barking dogs can serve as a threat to strangers.
The following dog breeds in your home are rated the best as guard dogs:
- Doberman Pinscher
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
When you bring a large dog into your home, ensure it’s a good fit. Avoid getting a dog of this size if you have young children or a small living space.
Invest in Burglar Deterrent Gadgets
We recommend investing in the following high-tech burglar deterrent gadgets to keep your property safe from bad guys:
- A smart video camera surveillance system. A smart video camera surveillance system is a great burglar deterrent gadget. Get one that you can monitor from your phone. Smart systems like this give you a list of menu control options, like moving the cameras to view more of an area. You can also request alerts if someone approaches your home.
- Motion-sensing lights. A well-lit yard will keep any thief at bay. Smart lights that come on when someone activates them are extremely effective. They make thieves panic and alert you of their presence.
- Window/door alarm systems. If a door or window is opened when it should be locked, a window/door alarm system will notify you and emit a loud noise to ward off a thief.
What to Do if You Think Someone is Outside Your House
If you have a clue that a suspicious character is trying to break in, take the following steps to keep you and your family safe:
- Don’t go outside and search for yourself. The intruder may be armed and dangerous.
- Make it known you are home by having the lights on but don’t make it obvious who exactly is in the house.
- Lock yourself and any other residents in a safe room, preferably on the second floor if you have one. Secure the door with a chair.
- Call 911 and alert them that someone outside your home won’t leave.
Do Lights Deter Burglars?
Installing lights is a smart and easy way to deter thieves. If your property is lit up at night, a burglar will be more likely to target a house where they can more successfully enter undetected.
Plenty of lights inside your home are also a great way to deter thieves. If you want to know how to deter burglars at night, make it known that you are home. Burglars are less likely to target an occupied house.
Who Do Burglars Target?
A thief can target strangers or people they know. Targeting someone they know can be easier, as they may be familiar with the belongings they own and their daily habits. A study by the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that nearly 60% of burglars target people they are acquainted with.
What Time of Day Do Most Burglaries Occur?
Most burglaries occur in the middle of the day between 10 a.m., and 3 p.m. Homeowners are most likely to be at work or running errands during these hours.
What Does a Burglar Typically Look Like?
Vivint.com found that most burglars are males aged 25 or younger. Keep in mind that burglars have a variety of motives, and theft can be performed by anyone of any age, gender, race, and socio-economic background.
How Do You Deter Burglars?
Practicing common sense, installing proper security measures, investing in burglar deterrent gadgets (like a smart video camera surveillance system), and not making your absence known are some of the best ways to deter burglars.
Do Driveway Gates Deter Thieves?
While driveway gates shouldn’t be the only security measure you implement, they can be one of the best deterrents for burglars. Consider how they keep thieves at bay:
Attempting to clear a tall driveway gate or high fence can draw attention.
A gate can indicate that there are other security measures in place.
A gate serves as a psychological barrier. A criminal doesn’t want to put in a lot of effort to plan their way in and out of your property, and a driveway gate makes their getaway tougher than it would be without one in place.
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