According to the FBI, there were more than 2 million burglaries in the United States in 2012, and residential burglaries account for more than 74 percent of all burglaries. Criminals are always on the lookout for the next easy target. With a few common sense steps you can improve your home security and discourage criminals from targeting your home. Read on to find out how to protect your home from theft.
- Check your doors
Doors that have damaged, loose or broken locks make an easy target and are a sign that you have a lax attitude about home security. Inspect your exterior doors at least once a year. Do they close and lock properly? If not, your home security is at risk.
You should also check the hinges, strike plate and knob or handle for loose or missing screws. Ensure that the door fits squarely in the jamb and that the jamb is not cracked or split near the strike plate. If your door has glass near the latch, a dead bolt that is keyed on both sides may discourage a burglar from breaking the glass to gain entry. If the door or hardware is damaged, it should be repaired or replaced immediately.
Always remember to lock your doors when you leave home. No matter how strong your door is, it won’t stop burglars if it’s not locked
- Inspect windows
Just as with doors, your windows play an important role in home security. Damaged or decayed windows are an easy target for criminals, especially if the windows are hidden behind shrubs or are on a secluded side of your home. Check both the interior and exterior of your windows for proper maintenance.
Loose or missing glazing and broken glass make your home look less secure and thus more inviting to a criminal. Trim tall shrubs back from windows, and make sure the windows are caulked and painted well. Inspect all latches for proper operation, and replace any that are loose or damaged. Keep windows closed and latched when you are away. Open windows are an open invitation to criminals.
- Install outdoor lighting
Exterior lighting is a key factor in home security. Exterior lights and motion detector lighting are good deterrents to keep prowlers away. All exterior doors should have a light that can illuminate anyone at your door. If someone comes to your door at night and the light doesn’t work, be extra cautious, as home invaders have been known to intentionally disable exterior lights.
- Take precautions during vacation
When you’re away from the home on vacation or extended trips, have a neighbor, friend, family member or house sitter collect your mail, newspapers and any deliveries you may receive. An overflowing mailbox or uncollected deliveries are a sure sign to a burglar that no one is home. If cars are normally parked in your driveway consider asking a neighbor, friend or family member to park one of their cars in your drive while you’re away.
- Avoid easy targets
Burglars and other criminals often target homes with expensive items that are easy to sell. If your big screen TV is visible from the window, it may attract unwanted attention from a burglar. Keep big ticket items like lawnmowers, jet-skis, ATVs and boats out of sight or stored elsewhere when you’re not using them.
- Hide the spare key
Spare house keys are a life saver if you are locked out of your house, but don’t let a conveniently located spare key fall into a burglar’s hands. Fake rocks, doormats, window and door ledges, flower pots, grills and the ash door on your chimney are the first places a burglar will look. Be very creative when hiding spare keys. If it’s convenient to access when you need it, a burglar can easily find it also. Change your locks immediately if your spare key mysteriously disappears.
- Install a home security system
For even more improved home security, consider installing an alarm system. It would be wise to shop around some to find the system that best fits your needs and your budget. Prices can range from $100 up to $1200 or more for a good system depending on the features and monitoring package you choose. Monitoring fees typically start in the $30 to $40 per month range. If that doesn’t fit within your budget, a prominently displayed alarm or hidden camera sign can discourage burglars, even if you don’t have a home security system installed.