When driving down a street at night looking at houses, you are most likely drawn to the house with exterior lighting, neatly trimmed landscaping, and lights on inside. That’s because the house looks inviting and well cared for. Now imagine a burglar is driving down the same street. The things that drew you to the previous house are the same things that will turn that burglar away, looking for better opportunities. A property with no exterior lighting, overgrown landscaping, and possibly no one at home, invites criminal activity.
It is important to note that burglary is a preventable crime. Common sense dictates some of the steps you can take toward making your home safer and less attractive to burglars. The following are some general tips you should incorporate into your routine that can make the difference between the burglar stopping at your house or passing it up for another one further down the road.
The first line of defense between you and a burglar is to secure your home properly. Make sure your yard, driveway, and all entrances to your home are well-lit. Consider the use of lights on a timer or photocell, which turns lights on automatically at dusk and shuts them off at dawn. Trees and shrubs around windows should be cut back so you don’t give a burglar a place to hide while preparing to enter your home.
If you are going to be away from home for a period of time, leave a light on. Lights left on indoors, especially those on a timer that turn on when it gets dark and shut off at bed time, can be a deterrent to a burglar. The goal is to make it look as if you are home. Ask a neighbor to pick up your newspapers and bring in your mail. Along the same lines, if you will be gone for an extended period, arrange for your lawn to be maintained. Permitting your grass to grow high or get dry is a sign of neglect and can invite unwanted attention. If you have a garage, use it. Parking inside your garage on a regular basis makes it more difficult for a burglar casing your home to know whether or not you are really there.
Burglars will usually spend about five minutes trying to get inside your home. Make that task as difficult as possible by doing the obvious: Lock your doors and windows! If you forget to lock your back door, this can be viewed as an invitation by a burglar looking to get into your home quickly. In addition to the obvious, avoid spring bolt locks. It takes only a credit card to push open the bolt and allow access to the inside. Deadbolt locks should be installed on all exterior doors. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established testing and ratings for deadbolt locks. Grade 1 locks are the best, with Grade 3 locks being easier to penetrate. Look for Grade 1 locks when shopping for a deadbolt. A key lock or pin-type lock works best for patio door, or any door with glass that could be broken easily to access a knob on a deadbolt. Heavy-duty strike plates should also be used to prevent a burglar from successfully kicking in your door.
When purchasing a new home, make sure all locks have been changed. Also, think about calling a reputable locksmith who can advise you on proper locks for doors and windows. Carefully preparing your home, including adequate locks, lighting, and regular maintenance, can make the difference between a burglar deciding to make a stop at your house or to keep driving.