Don't Invite Burglars to your Home for the Holidays
Are you unknowingly enticing potential thieves to damage your property or break into your home?
While you want your home to be a welcoming environment for family and friends, you might be surprised how common habits might be inviting to criminals, too.
Whether you are going away for the Holiday Season or simply going to work, you can deter burglars from choosing your home
with these tips:
Make It a Point to Keep Everything Locked Up
While you probably lock your vehicle and the main points of entry into your home, you may overlook locking your windows, fence gates, garage or garden shed from time to time. An unlocked gate allows a thief access to your backyard, away from the view of your neighbors. Once inside your yard, a thief has more freedom to peer through windows and patio doors. Access to garages and garden sheds also gives a thief more tools to use to break into your home. For example, a ladder in your backyard could make it much easier for a criminal to enter your home from the second story—where windows are more likely to be unlocked. Tools such as drills, hammers, and crowbars are also kept in many sheds and garages and can be used to break windows and open doors. Even if a thief is unable to get into your home, your backyard likely has valuable items such as a barbeque grill or bicycle.
Maintain Your Landscape
The way in which your home is landscaped and maintained affects your risk for theft. For example, large, untrimmed shrubs and bushes can give criminals a place to hide—especially at night. Be sure to keep hedges and bushes cut back so that the majority of your yard can be easily seen from a number of vantage points. On the other hand, shrubs and bushes can deter theft as well. Thieves are less likely to attempt to break into windows with landscaping underneath. Small bushes can provide an obstruction to otherwise easily accessible windows.
Light Up Your Property
Hiding under the cloak of darkness makes sneaking around someone’s home much easier. Keep your home’s exterior well illuminated with motion sensor lighting. This type of lighting can be easily found in hardware stores or ordered online. Because the lights are activated by movement, you don’t have to worry about lights staying on night and day. If you choose to install motion sensor lights, make sure they illuminate your backyard, the sides of your property, and driveways or pathways. When installing this type of lighting, the higher the light is mounted the better, so that criminals cannot reach them to damage them.
Consider Using a Security Alarm
Security systems come with a variety of features to suit almost any budget. From basic systems that sound off loud alerts when an armed point of entry or window is breached to high-tech systems that allow for surveillance from a tablet or smart phone, there is likely a system that offers the best features for your needs. Not only is the loud sound of a security alarm a major deterrent, many systems alert your local police department that your security has been compromised in some way. Furthermore, signage such as picket signs and window or door decals from your security system company can deter criminals as well. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies offer discounts for homes armed with security systems.
Be Mindful of Your Trash
Even what you throw away for curbside pickup can make you a target for theft. Perhaps you took advantage of Black Friday deals after Thanksgiving and scored a great price on a large flat-screen television. After unpacking a television, gaming console, or computer, many people leave the boxes at the curb for recycling or trash pickup. Unfortunately, most packaging for expensive electronics shows pictures, brand names and specifications of the products in plain view. Placing boxes at the curb makes your home a target for thieves looking for electronics to steal. When unpacking electronics, break down the boxes and packaging instead and place them in black trash bags.
Make your home look occupied
When you will be away for a long time, set timers on lights in your house to turn off/on at the normal times you would use them when you are home. Timers are sold at hardware stores or online for usually under $20 each. Also, be sure to have someone collect your mail, news papers, packages or any items that are normally delivered to your home. A pile of items at your front door or in your mailbox indicates you are away.
Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places — burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.
Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Mark your valuables with your driver’s license number, phone number, or birthdate with an engraver. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
Form a Neighborhood Watch Group and work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.