The most prevalent of all crimes aside from larceny and theft in developed countries is burglary. In the US alone, there are more than 2 million recorded incidences of burglaries each year.
The main reason why these crooks get away with breaking in is that most people fail even with the most basic home security measures or they leave a small chink in their defenses.
Burglars have gotten smarter over the years. Oftentimes they would exploit the fact that most people tend to ignore security and safety for the sake of appearance or things that would suggest affluence and 21st century living. If we don’t cope with how these burglars operate nowadays, sooner or later they’re going to catch up on us. And as they say, “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” We need to see things around the house as they see it and put ourselves in their shoes (or gloves) if we are to win the battle against these crooks.
There are 5 things to keep in mind to safeguard our homes from unlawful entry and theft and make life a little harder for these pesky burglars.
Get inside their heads.
Burglars are creatures of opportunity. They follow a certain pattern in carrying out their plans which is based on three things: visibility, noise, and the time it takes to execute their plan. Usually, they would choose an easy target over a difficult one. Or if it’s worth the payoff, they would lie in wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. The more unsuspecting their victims are the better.
Burglars don’t like to be seen which is why they work under the cover of darkness or in broad daylight when nobody is watching or paying attention. By taking away their hiding places and keeping watch of your less frequented areas at home (using security cameras and other surveillance systems) you’re creating a psychological barrier and cause burglars to balk at breaking into your home.
They would also consider the time it would take to get past your defenses. The two main points of entry is your doors and windows, but it’s the windows that are often overlooked. Most doors nowadays are properly secure with at least 2 layers of protection (doorknob/lever paired with a deadbolt). However, a rickety door with an old-looking doorknob or padlock looks irresistibly tempting for a passing burglar.
As much as they hate to be seen, they don’t want making any noise either. Burglar alarms never gets old because they proved to be an effective deterrent to burglars and trespassers. Good quality security systems will often feature a burglar alarm or two-way audio to scare them off. Or if you’re a pet lover, consider having a guard dog at home. Most burglars won’t sweat it and they would simply skip your house if you have them.
Keep an eye on people who steps in.
Sometimes burglars present themselves as visitors, salespersons, or applicants. In most western countries, any unexpected visit from a stranger won’t go past the doorstep. In some countries, particularly in the east, it is customary to let strangers in as part of their culture. However, this makes them vulnerable to burglars who would use this gesture of hospitality against them. Never let someone in unless they are known to you or you have called them up for an appointment.
If you do let people in, take note of their names and other relevant information about them. Remember how they look like and keep the information about them for future use. This is one of the biggest reasons why it is strongly recommended to have a security camera installed inside the house. Burglars disguised as visitors or applicants will often think twice breaking inside the house when they see a house full of them. But then again, don’t let them go any further and ‘study’ your house.
If you called up for fixing inside the house, always remember to keep your valuables in a safe place prior to the visit. Don’t let them have access to any part of the house they’re not supposed to deal with. Keys can be easily duplicated so it’s better to not let them get a hold of it. After the repair work, always make it a habit to make a quick inventory of your valuables and check the locks of your windows and doors for signs of tampering, etc. Some contractors involved in illegal activities would instruct them to unlock windows or tamper locks for easy access later during the night.
Another trick these hucksters use is to lure you out of your house while his accomplice steals in to pick on your valuables. Don’t fall for the trick and lock the door shut immediately.
Check your doors for weak spots.
Doors are pretty much exposed to wear and tear from frequent use. Over time parts of your door come loose or gets rusty. The strike plate, for instance, will most like wear or become loose from repeated contact and could be easily knocked off when a burglar kicks on the door. When you see signs of wear, change the strike plate right away.
Some homes with a flair for 21st century architecture have doors made of glass panes. Although they look pretty nice, they also make homes susceptible to theft since they could easily see through the door and they’re made of less durable material. Sure, breaking them would create a lot of noise but if they’re patient enough, they can time it well enough so that it becomes less audible.
To secure a glass door, adding an extra layer of protection would definitely help. Security films, for instance can hold up the glass together instead of falling apart when shattered. This would also help delay the burglar’s entry or discourage him from making any more noise and leave the house.
French doors can also be breached rather easily because of their inherent structural weakness. Since it’s basically a split-door design, there’s nothing else holding the doors together except the center lock. A well-placed kick could easily blow the doors open. Installing door floor locks, upper locks, door barricades, and an inch-long deadbolt on French doors would definitely strengthen the doors’ weak spots. Burglars love French doors so it’s not spending too much reinforcing them.
Another fancy door setup used in some homes is the sliding door. Like the French door, it has a weak locking mechanism. You can apply the same principle by installing vertical locks both for the upper and lower part. Since most sliding doors are made of glass, you should consider putting on a security film on as well.
Keep your windows inaccessible to people.
Most doors are shut during the day, but not windows. Most burglars prefer going through them because they are seldom locked or people miss them out during lights off. Because windows are meant for ventilation and proper lighting during the day, they are often made of glass. Again, adding an extra layer of protection such as security film will lend strength to your window’s weakest link.
Some people would go as far as installing security bars on their windows. The catch, however, is that you cannot bail out too easily in case of fire. The trick here is to install it in such a way where you could quickly unlock the bars from inside the house and barge your way out.
Another important point to remember is to keep any object such as valuable pieces of jewelry or expensive gadgets away from your windows. Better yet, hide them elsewhere not visible to people outside the house. Some burglars will try to fish them out from your windows using a pole or any long instrument. If you don’t intend to use daylight or maybe just a bit of sunlight, you can use blinds or curtains on your windows to block their view of what’s inside.
In case they managed to pry open your windows, you can always rely on window alarms to do their job. Setting them off can startle any burglar and make them run away. Remember, burglars hate drawing people’s attention and wouldn’t risk getting caught.
A good option would be the best selling GE Personal Security Window alram.
Create an illusion of occupancy.
Burglars will certainly know if you’re away or on a vacation. They would look for telltale signs such as newspapers left unpicked for days on the driveway or mailboxes stuffed with unread mails and notices. This is where having good relationships with your neighbors becomes indispensable. Ask your friendly neighbor to cleanup any sign of vacancy.
Keep your house well-lit during the night using simple apps that allow you to remotely control the lights. If you have a wireless IP camera installed both in and outside the house, all the better. A two-way audio is a plus because the sound of your voice could scare them away. Some people suggest keeping their dogs home instead of kenneling them to make burglars think you’re still home (you have to ask your neighbors if they won’t mind feeding the dogs for you). Dogs also have an acute sense of hearing and smelling which makes them a formidable threat to any burglar.