A burglars best friend is nice weather and an easy target, police say burglaries rise 200% in the warmer months. The warm weather brings vacations and open windows, a burglars dream. As the spring and summer approaches now is a good time to improve your home in ways to make it as difficult a target as possible. A few years back the University of North Carolina did a study of 372 burglars to see what made an easy target in their eyes. Their top answers were easy in and out, visible signs of security and/or someone home, and your home’s proximity to neighbors, passersby and police. It may surprise you that the top neighborhood burglar is no professional thief, is probably young, and will most likely strike during the day.
Here are 10 facts about the average neighborhood burglar.
- He and others like him commit over 2 million burglaries every year.
- He’s between the ages of 17 and 25 and he’s not a pro.
- He’s typically stealing your stuff to support his drug habit.
- He is likely to use your front door to gain access. Back doors and windows, too.
- He breaks in by kicking in your door, or using a pry bar or screwdriver.
- He’s in and out in as little as 10 minutes.
- He’s not likely to get caught; police solve only about 13% of home burglaries.
- He usually breaks in between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm.
- If you (or your kids) walk in on him, your odds of assault are high.
- He’s likely to case your home before breaking in.
As stated above the most common entry points are front and back doors. Investing in good locks and kickplates is a must, enhance your security by choosing a locking solution that includes a Grade 1 (highest-grade security certificate) deadbolt and always change the locks when you move into a new home. Something many people forget to do! Also don’t forget to lock those windows every night! After your front/back door, a window is the next most likely point of entry.
Another way to make your home harder to rob is to keep all your trees, shrubs and bushes well pruned and trimmed. Thieves love to use them as hiding places. Motion lights also make it much harder for them to skulk around your home, many thieves will walk away if a light comes on when they near the house. When you are not home, timer lights are also great deterrents. You can set it to intervals so lights switch off and on both inside and out. Even leaving on the television can be helpful. When going out of town, leave a car in the driveway and hire a house-sitter if at possible. If a burglar even thinks anyone is home they will move on.
Any sign that your home will be difficult to break into will deter a would-be thief. Even if it is literally just a sign! Everyone knows a home with a security system is less likely to get broken into, the University of North Carolina study says around 60% in fact, “About 60% of the burglars indicated that the presence of an alarm would cause them to seek an alternative target altogether. This was particularly true among the subset of burglars that were more likely to spend time deliberately and carefully planning a burglary.”(pg4) Did you catch that?! Presence of an alarm! Both burglars and police say that just an alarm company sign or decal will make them choose a different target. Same goes for dogs, just putting up a sign that you have a dog will keep the thief moving.
If you fancy one, dogs are a big deterrent because they are loud and may bite. In fact, buglers said they were more afraid of the noise of a yapping dog than getting bit by a big dog so you don’t even necessarily need a big dog. If dogs are not an option for your home and since the noise is more a factor than getting bit you can always buy a barking alarm, there are many available and they are all rather inexpensive ranging from around $30 to $100.
Security cameras are also a huge deterrent, even if they are just fake! Again, we are going for the appearance of being a poor target. You do not need to spend a ton of dough or time either, many cameras are under $100 and can be easily installed yourself.
The top things a burglar is looking for are things that can be easily carried and sold; such as prescription drugs, laptops, iPads, smartphones and other small technology, cash, credit cards and guns. Consider keeping these things locked away when you’re not home and never keep your cash and important papers in an obvious spot like a kitchen, dresser, or desk drawer and always shred bank and credit card statements. Remember thieves aren’t just out to steal your stuff they can steal your identity as well and that can take months to clear up.
Also do not hesitate to get involved with your community and start or join a neighborhood watch. It does work! Burglars said they are less likely to target homes where the neighbors are on watch. The FBI reports that areas with an active Neighborhood Watch program are 43% less likely to become a target of criminal activity. Another review by the U.S. Department of Justice states, “Across all eligible studies combined, Neighborhood Watch was associated with a reduction in crime.” Your local police can be a resource as well. Officers are always happy to give you tips for free. You can’t move your home to make it more visible to traffic or a police station but you can go of your way to make your home a bad target and get involved in your community to help keep you, your family and your neighborhood safer.