It’s probably one of every homeowner’s greatest fears. It can rob you, not only of your belongings, but of your peace of mind, as well. It is a personal invasion as well as a property invasion. It is burglary, and it is something every homeowner wants to protect against.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind for most in terms of burglary protection is some type of alarm system. There is a huge variety to choose from, with a huge variety of pricetags. The cheapest of systems provide noise alone, to deter would-be trespassers, and awaken residents and neighbors to phone emergency services. The more expensive ones will hook directly up TO a service, which will then contact emergency services for you. There are even those that can be controlled remotely, from your computer or your phone, whether you are home or not. These usually offer a lot more than just burglary protection . . . . possibly even allowing you to control your lights, thermostat, and video feeds from home. It pays to research before having an alarm system installed, to make sure it is the right one to suit your needs, and your wallet.
If an alarm service is not realistic for you, then don’t despair. There are a great many things, most of which are extremely simple, that homeowners can do to protect themselves from thieves and break-ins. A little thought and care can actually go a long, long way towards protecting your home and your family.
Burglary is a crime of opportunity, and nobody window shops better than a burglar. Don’t allow your home to be a storefront of opportunity and marketing. Don’t, for example, draw undue attention to your home by discarding empty boxes at the curb with your trash. Lining up empty boxes from TV’s, gaming systems, or appliances after Christmas or a birthday is like displaying a menu of available items in your home. Break those boxes down and hide them amongst your recyclables. Use shades, drapes and other window treatments to keep indoor household items that may be tempting out of view and out of temptation. Essentially, make window shopping at your home impossible.
No burglar wants to walk the red carpet of conspicuousness into your home. Trim back bushes, shrubs, and trees so that all doors, windows, and porches are visible from the street and sidewalk. A dark or poorly lit property area makes it easier for a burglar to go about unseen. Motion-sensored lighting is often a perfect solution, as it prevents the need to have lights on ALL the time. It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Using timers is another excellent way to thwart burglary, especially if you are not going to be home for any extended period of time, such as leaving for a vacation. Timers that are hooked up to indoor lights, as well as radios or televisions, are a great idea. They can run from about $5 – $40, depending on their sophistication, but even a basic plug-in unit can turn a light on and off once or twice a day. A more expensively wired digital outlet switch can switch lights on at any number of set or random times.
The majority of all burglaries take place at ground floor doors and windows, All entry doors should be solid wood or steel-wrapped wood-core doors, because, despite the care you may take to use a variety of locks, hollow-core doors or old wood-panel doors can be kicked in easily from their frames, and don’t offer much protection. For doors with imbedded windows, installing a protective barrier of quarter-inch Plexiglas over any existing glass can offer added protection, and can prevent burglars from breaking the window and either opening the door’s lock from the inside or getting into the house through the opening itself.
Deadbolt locks should be installed in every outdoor entry door. Insurance companies and locksmiths usually recommend Grade 1 or Grade 2 American National Standards Institute deadbolt locks on exterior entryways. There are two main types of deadbolts – single cylinder and double cylinder locks. A single cylinder deadbolt has a keyed opening on one side, and a knob or latch that can be turned by hand on the other side. A double cylinder deadbolt lock, which may be slightly more expensive, is keyed on BOTH sides. Each offers plusses and minuses. A double cylinder lock might be a better choice on doors with an imbedded window, or one near a window, as it prevents a burglar from breaking the glass, reaching in, and opening a latch…… he would need a key to open it from the inside, as well. But, keep in mind, this means that it would also be more difficult for residents to open, and they can impede a speedy exit from a home in case of fire. Leaving the key IN the inside lock would completely defeat the purpose.
It seems almost silly to say, but, honestly, the best protection you can offer your home is a little common sense. Insure all of your more expensive household belongings, and keep a list of them. It is also a very good idea to keep photographs of things (including jewelry and more personal items), as well as all insurance information, in a folder that you can refer to. Lock all your doors and windows whenever you leave your home. Be aware of your surroundings or strangers lurking about. Make friends with your neighbors, tell them when you won’t be home for any length of time, and have them take in your mail. Look out for each other and for each others’ homes. In the end, a tight-knit community is the very best protection against burglary. Being neighborly, and being smart, can offer you the greatest protection of all.