I got a call earlier today from my alarm company. The alarm at my house was set off and the cops were called. After the initial shock that my house may have been burglarized, I headed home (of course I called my dad and police officer friend, first).
The cops checked. No broken windows. No busted doors.
Then, I checked. Nothing was missing. Nothing was out of place.
Miraculously, it was only a false alarm.
So, how do you protect yourself against home burglary?
According to FBI statistics, a house, apartment or condominium is burglarized once every 15 seconds.
The good news: Most home burglars do not go to great lengths to plan a burglary. If you understand how they choose a target, you can lessen your chances of being victimized.
Burglars look for something worth stealing (a lap top, a DVD player, iPods, etc.), easy access, low visibility and an unoccupied home. Actually, most burglaries occur during the day - while people are at work.
How to prevent break-ins:
- Make your home look occupied all the time.
- Put your lights on a schedule with automatic timers.
- Put a radio/TV on a schedule with automatic timers - the volume up enough to be heard from the outside.
- Park your car in the garage with the garage door shut so they won't notice a pattern if your car is usually outside and is now gone.
- Turn your answer machine and ringer down so you cannot hear them from the outside.
- Do not leave notes or brochures on your doors that can tip them off.
If you are on vacation:
- Forward your telephone to your cell. Sometimes, a burglar will call your house to see if you are home.
- Don't stop your mail. Have a trusted neighbor or local family member or friend pick it up. You don't want the information out there that you are gone.
- If you are leaving for a while, have your lawn mowed.
- If you are gone on a trash day, have your neighbor put the garbage cans out and take them back. Sometimes burglars check to see whose cans are missing.
- Tell a trusted neighbor to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior while you are gone.
Lose the hiding spots:
- Install motion detector lights instead of leaving them on all the time, including around windows and doors since they are the preferred entry point. Motion detector lights alert the neighbors someone is near your home.
- Keep your yard free of overgrowth and move bushes and shrubs from around the house. They tend to make good hiding places.
- If you have shrubs or bushes, choose ones with thorns to deter burglars.
- Install a security alarm system with a loud alarm and flashing lights to attract the attention of neighbors. If the alarm is installed, display the decals and signs.
- Lock all doors and windows when you leave the house.
- Use the peephole on your door.
- Do not hide spare keys outside. Give them to your trusted neighbor.
- Do not provide house keys to service people.
- Do not invite strangers into your home.
- Do not leave money or jewelry in open view.
- Do not tell strangers your daily routines.
- If you are outdoors, leave unattended doors and windows locked.
- Avoid telling others about valuables in your home.
- If you have kids, talk to them about home security.
Put your house on lockdown:
- Have the locks changed when you move to a new place.
- Talk to a locksmith about making sure you have the right locks on your doors and windows.
- Secure windows and doors with extra locks, impact-resistant glass and deadbolts.
- Don't forget about your second floor. If an upstairs window is unlocked, they can climb a tree to get there.
Keep your stuff safe:
- Inventory and mark your belongings.
- Keep the receipts for all valuable purchases.
- Take photos of your valuables.
- Write down serial numbers and keep them somewhere away from your home.
- If there is not a serial number on something, engrave a personal serial number in a hard-to-find spot. **Note: Do not mark them with your social security number. I know, you know.
- Get to know your neighbors by hosting a cookout or game night.
- Organize and participate in a neighborhood watch program.
- Have a local police officer complete a security survey to let you know about specific concerns.
- If you are in an apartment, let management know when lights are out or things are broken.
- Call the police if you notice suspicious activity.
Thank you to State Farm insurance for the tips.