Best Practices for Protecting Your Home From Burglaries

While the movies might lead you to believe that burglars use high-tech spies, the truth is that many are just as rudimentary: They survey your home’s exterior and look for windows that can be easily pried open.

Avoid sending the signal that you’re out of town with piled up mail and newspapers, and keep shrubs and bushes trimmed to eliminate hiding spots.

1. Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked

Burglars look for unlocked exterior doors and open windows. Keeping your doors and windows locked will make it more difficult for thieves to break into your home and easier for you to call the police if they attempt to enter.

Keep curtains closed to prevent burglars from peeking inside your home and noticing any valuables. If you are going to be away for several days, have a friend collect your mail or ask a neighbor to check on your house daily.

Consider using timers on lights and radios to turn them on and off throughout the day to make your home appear occupied. Also, avoid posting on social media when you are out of town for extended periods of time or leaving a message on your voicemail.

2. Keep Your Neighbors on the Alert

Burglars look for signs of life when they “case” a home. That means they pay attention to how long you leave a light on when you go out, if your neighbors’ curtains are open, and whether or not you hide expensive items in your yard.

Get to know your neighbors and consider joining a neighborhood watch program. Your neighbors can keep an eye on your home in your absence and call police if they see suspicious activity.

Don’t leave a spare key under a flower pot or doormat where it can be easily seen, either. Also, be sure to hide valuables from view, like cash, jewelry, and expensive electronics inside a locked shed or the garage. A tall fence and a line of trees can block prying eyes as well.

3. Invest in a Security System

We’ve all heard the saying “your home is your castle.” You may feel safe enough to sleep peacefully inside, but are you taking steps to keep it that way?

Consider the following tips to help prevent burglaries:

Keep valuables out of sight. Burglars are able to scope out your possessions by peeking in windows, especially the ones on the ground floor. Store ladders, tools and bicycles in a shed or garage rather than out in the open.

Invest in a security system that offers door and window sensors. Having this system in place will allow you to receive alerts the moment someone enters or exits your home. Also, consider a neighborhood watch program. It can act as a deterrent to burglars by helping to keep your neighbors on the same page with regards to safety concerns.

4. Keep Your Pets Indoors

The loud barking of a large dog may be enough to scare away a burglar. Likewise, posting signs that say “beware of dog” can be effective.

If your home is a two-story house, make sure to prune trees so that crooks can’t use them as a means of gaining access to second-story windows. Also, don’t overshare on social media about upcoming trips or vacations — this can send a signal to thieves that your house will be empty.

Don’t leave tools, ladders, bikes or other valuable items outside. Keep them in a shed or locked up if possible. And consider giving your spare key to a trusted friend or putting it in a hidden lock box. This will prevent you from accidentally leaving it in the wrong hands.

5. Keep Your Yard Trimmed

A well-kept lawn and yard can tell a lot to an opportunistic burglar, including whether your home is filled with valuable entertainment or tools. Keep ladders, toolboxes, and other equipment in a shed or garage and out of sight to prevent easy access to your property.

Trimming bushes and trees eliminates hiding spots, especially near doors and windows. It’s also a good idea to avoid high fences and shrubbery around your home.

If you’re going away for a long time, stop mail and newspaper delivery, ask neighbors to shovel or bring in your garbage cans, and refrain from oversharing on social media. This can help your house appear occupied, deterring burglars from targeting it as an empty vacation spot. For extra security, stow expensive items like grills and bicycles in the garage or a locked shed.

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