According to the Department of Justice and the FBI, of the more than 2 million burglaries reported in 2012, 74.5 percent took place in homes, not businesses—and they averaged more than $2,188 in stolen items, adding up to nearly $15.5 billion in lost property in a single year!
Despite these alarming statistics, most burglaries are done by amateurs. Taking the right steps—and avoiding others—can significantly reduce your risk.
Studies have found alarm systems are the single most effective way to reduce the risk of burglary. Also note that houses near wooded areas or in areas with easy access to highways tend to be targeted more often. If you already live in a house fitting that description or want to, don’t fear. Just take a few extra precautions—clear bushes and branches away from windows and entrances, install fake or real security cameras in prominent places, perhaps start a neighborhood watch program—and make sure to take the following actions:
- Lock doors and windows. Surprisingly, most burglars simply walk in.
- Keep the garage and tool shed locked, and frost or cover any windows so a burglar can’t see if you’re home.
- Change your locks when moving into a new house or apartment.
- Install motion detecting exterior lighting around your home.
- When you’re out of town, prepare your home to appear occupied. Use a timer to turn lights on and off, and turn your phone’s ringer off so that it doesn’t ring continuously.
- Burglar-proof large sliding doors by setting a fitted pipe or metal bar in the middle bottom track of the door slide so it can’t slide open.
While the above to-do’s are important safety actions to take, there are also important actions to avoid:
- Don’t keep large sums of money or valuables in your house. If you have these items in your home, don’t tell anyone and store them in an anchored safe.
- Don’t leave notes on your door about where you are or when you’ll return.
- Don’t hide a key. Leave spare keys with a trusted neighbor.
- Keep expensive electronic equipment and other high-price items out of sight.
- Don’t answer personal questions on telephone surveys that may give out information about your possessions or your schedule.
- Even if a stranger asks to use your telephone for an emergency, say no. Offer to make the call for them while they wait outside.
- Never let a door-to-door sales rep or service personnel from a utility company enter your house unless you have an appointment.
- If you use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, don’t broadcast the play-by-play of your vacation. Post pictures after you get home.
For more help with your home’s security, seek advice from a professional security provider or check with your local police, as some departments will perform a free security assessment.
This article was taken from my April 2014 issue of YOU Magazine. Click here to view the full newsletter.