Waking to find an intruder standing in your bedroom or rifling through your possessions is usually the stuff of nightmares … but not always. Every year, thousands of homes across the US are broken into. Here are some tips to keeping your home safe:
1. Don’t leave your valuables in sight. Keep curtains closed to hide valuable electrical objects such as televisions, computers, phones, and consoles.
2. Beware what you put on social media. Refrain from uploading pictures of the outside of your house, and never make your address public knowledge. If you’re going on vacation, don’t be too open about it on Facebook or Twitter; you don’t want burglars to know you are away.
3. If you are going on vacation, ask a neighbour to clear your path regularly; piles of mail, leaves or other debris make it obvious that you’re not home. Ask them to leave a light on to make it look like someone’s home.
4. Trim any hedges or trees surrounding your yard; they block your view and could provide a good hiding place for an intruder.
5. Invest in a ‘beware of the dog’ sign; even if you don’t have a dog, the threat alone should be enough to make a burglar think twice about breaking into your home. There’s a huge range, take a look at MySafetySign to get some ideas.
6. Don’t let unauthorised individuals such as salesmen into your home; they could be wannabe intruders scouting out your possessions and any potential entry routes.
7. Invest in an alarm system. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just something that will make a noise in the event of a break-in and frighten intruders.
8. Install cameras outside your home. If a break-in or an attempted break-in is staged by an intruder, cameras will pick up valuable footage that could enable the police to identify the intruder’s identity. If you haven’t got working cameras, dummy cameras often act as a good deterrent; criminals are less likely to strike your home if there’s a possibility they will be recognised.
9. Ensure your windows and doors are always locked when you leave the house and at night. If your doors aren’t double-glazed, consider investing in replacements; doubled-glazed doors are often sturdier and many have a double-locking system that helps to protect your home (lift the handle and then lock).
10. Avoiding parking your car beneath a window; intruders can use it as leverage.
11. If you have any ladders lying around your garden, put them away and secure them in a shed; intruders can use them to access upstairs windows that may not be as securely locked as those on downstairs levels.
12. If you have children, teach them not to open the front door to strangers; install a peep-hole in your door so you always know who is calling.
13. Install motion lights outside in the front and back yards: the lights will deter intruders.
14. Stagger times throughout your home during the night and vacations to give the impression that someone is home and moving through the house.
15. Don’t leave your keys in your door at night; burglars can break a small hole into the fabric of the door and reach through to grab your keys and enter the house.