Each year in the U.S. there are more than five million home burglaries and a surprising nine out of ten of these crimes are preventable! You can cut your risk of being burglarized vastly by taking simple steps to make your home more difficult to enter and less enticing to would-be burglars.
Here are 10 mistakes that burglars WANT you to make—check this list to avoid making them:
- Leave your doors unlocked.
- Leave your windows unlocked.
- Leave your tool shed unlocked.
- Build a high fence/private yard. Private secluded yards allow burglars to operate in secrecy!
- Don’t install outdoor lighting.
- Don’t have a home security system.
- Leave your keys in the car in the driveway/garage.
- Use a webcam as “home surveillance system.” This will be no help when the thief is wearing a mask—and who is available to constantly check the constant feed and from where?
- Don‘t bolt down your safes. There’s nothing keeping an able-bodied thief from just carrying your safe—and all its precious contents– away with him.
- Trust in “hidden keys.” Your hiding places aren’t going to fool burglars for a minute—after all, they steal from strangers for a living!
THREE GREAT WEAPONS IN THE FIGHT TO PREVENT BURGLARIES: LIGHT, TIME AND NOISE
- Mount exterior lights out of reach where burglars can’t easily unscrew bulbs.
- Purchase and install motion-sensitive lights, now available at relatively low prices.
- Use a variable light timer to activate lights inside your home.
- Trim trees and shrubs near doors and windows so burglars can’t hide in the shadows
Make it time-consuming for a burglar to break into your home:
- Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
- Install double-key locks in doors which contain glass. This will keep a burglar from being able to open the door simply by breaking the glass and reaching through. (Note: Be sure to keep the key in designated place, for escape in case of fire).
- Place additional locks on all windows and patio doors.
- Get a dog. You don’t need a large attack dog; even a small dog creates a disturbance that burglars would prefer to avoid.
- Whenever possible, have someone care for your dogs in your home while you’re away, instead of boarding them.
- If you can afford it, install an alarm system that will alert neighbors of a burglar’s presence. Most systems can even summon local police directly. Don’t forget to check the Alarm Code.
Other tips to prevent break-ins:
- Think like a burglar. “Case” your home the way a burglar would and look for easy ways to get in.
- Be sure valuables like electronic devices and artwork are not visible from the street.
- Be sure to lock up ladders and tools which could be used to break in.
- Work together with your neighbors. Organize a Neighborhood Watch and let your neighbors know when you will be away for an extended period.
- While on vacation, have someone pick up your newspapers and mail, so that you don’t advertise your absence.
- Display your house number conspicuously and have it well illuminated. This will help police and emergency personnel find your home quickly.
Just in Case…
Sometimes, all your efforts won’t stop a determined burglar. It’s wise to take some precautions that will help you get your property back should a criminal successfully break into your home:
- Make a list of your belongings, being sure to keep receipts, and periodically update this list.
- Keep copies of your inventory list and receipts in a safe deposit box or with a friend.
- You may choose to photograph and/or videotape your possessions to create a record of what you own.
- Engrave your valuables with an identification or mark to deter burglary and to prove ownership should the article be stolen and recovered by the police.
- Be sure you have the right insurance coverage. You may need to purchase additional coverage to protect special items like expensive jewelry or rare antiques.
- If you don’t own your home, consider buying a renter’s policy. Your landlord will generally not be responsible for your possessions.
Follow simple burglar-proofing precautions consistently for your safety and peace of mind.
Twice a year, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but also do a few other semi-annual tasks that will improve safety in your home…
Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks:
- Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Remember to check the AGE of your detectors! On November 2nd, 2007, the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), press release #08-062, suggests not only to check/change batteries in alarms, but also check the age of the alarms and replace older alarms. The CPSC suggests that consumers replace smoke alarms every ten years and replace carbon monoxide (CO) alarms every five years. As the cold sets in and many start up their gas-fired furnaces, fireplaces, portable unit heaters and the like for the first time, carbon monoxide poisoning risks increase dramatically during this time of year.
- Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets). Once you’ve created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
- A COLD winter is coming! Make a “winter car-emergency kit” now and put it in your vehicle! (Don’t know what to include? Check these ideas at this website: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/20-must-haves-in-your-car-emergency-kit-1.aspx)
It’s a good idea to carry a car-emergency kit in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall. (Having a separate duffle/gear bag clearly marked “Cold Gear” specifically for your cold weather emergency gear makes it easy to add or take out of the car, seasonally.) Like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!” In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least, miserable to deal with, unless you’re well prepared.
- Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials. Discard properly any which are outdated, no longer used or in poor condition. Move any which are within reach of kids or pets.
- Check and discard expired medications -those dates really DO have meaning - some very common over-the-counter medications can cause serious problems due to change through aging.
ALSO…in addition to smoke detectors and CO detectors, the semi-annual time change is also a great time to change ALL the batteries in the house- clocks, controls with backup timers(thermostats, irrigation, outdoor lighting, water conditioners), phone accessories, flashlights and portable electronics…And remember to discard the used batteries properly.
There is a huge difference between the “society clock” and the “biological clock” we all work from. During these time changes there is statistically an increase in safety incidents.
With the end of daylight savings time comes an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak and many are making our way home from work. Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility – nor are pedestrians, who might take chances crossing roads when they shouldn’t. Pedestrians walking around at dusk are nearly three times more likely to be struck and killed by cars in the days following the end of daylight saving time than just before the time change.
Studies have also found that auto accidents increase after the clocks fall back an hour. Besides the lack of visibility, commuting in the dark can also make drivers drowsier than usual. According to some health studies, changes in waking time coupled with the earlier onset of darkness throws off our internal clocks. This increases driving risks, primarily because in our 24/7 society, we have a fundamental problem of already being sleep deprived. The end of daylight saving time can leave many feeling fatigued, which can pose safety risks both at home and in the workplace. Some things to keep in mind when switching back to standard time are:
Fatigue– Studies suggest that it takes people who work traditional hours several days to fully readjust their sleep schedule after the time change. While it may seem a welcome gift to get an extra hour of sleep as opposed to losing an hour in the spring, there is a physiological consequence to changing our clocks. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit sluggish during the first week or so of November.
Accidents– Evidence suggests that time changes increase safety problems both at work and at home. Just being aware of the increased risk of accidents in the period immediately following the time change may help you stay alert. Try to avoid building up a sleep debt in the days before the change.
These safety tips will help remind you to use each time change to improve your home safety!
Each year, there are more than 2.15 million burglaries with the majority of home invasions occurring in the peak vacation months of July and August. Going on vacation can be one of the most relaxing things in the world, but before you depart, here are a few ideas to help keep intruders at bay while you’re on vacation.
Keep Your Home Well Lit – Place light timers inside your house to light up your house when it is dark out. Burglars tend to not flock to homes that are well lit and where they will be visible.
Trustworthy Neighbor- Ask a trustworthy neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your house while you’re away. Be sure to tell them if you are expecting any visitors over the course of your trip so that they can be aware.
Stop Delivery of Your Newspapers or Mail – Either put a hold on your mail and newspaper service, or have a neighbor collect them for you daily. A build up of mail or newspapers is a good indicator to burglars that you are on vacation. Another way to hide your mail is by getting a larger sized locked mailbox. This will ensure that your mail is not visible intruders.
Examine Your House Before You Leave- Make a checklist of all possible entrance paths for intruders and ensure that they are well locked and secured.
Hide All Valuables – Be sure to hide all of your valuables so that they are not visible from the windows. This way, intruders won’t have more of a reason to break in.
Security System – Homes without a monitored security alarm system are three times more likely to be burglarized or robbed than those with a monitored home security system. Nightwatch Protection is now offering a FREE home security system that will help keep your home protected even when you’re not on vacation.
Window Decals – Security system decals located on your front door is a great way to help scare off burglars.
Cameras – Weather it is a real camera, or a fake camera, if intruders think they will get caught, they will be less likely to break in.
Home Telephone – Don’t ever leave a voice mail message saying “We’re not home right now” or “We’re on vacation and won’t be back for a week.” This assures intruders that you won’t be home. Also, turn the ringer down on your house phone, or change it to 1 ring. If they can hear that no one is answering the phone, they will assume you are not home.
By following these helpful hints, you are on your way to a better protected home. These tips will help keep your stress levels down, so that you can fully enjoy your vacation.