There really is no place like home. It is where you, your family and your friends should feel peace of mind knowing that you’re safe and secure.
Unfortunately, no matter where you live, your home may be subject to burglary and break-ins. Although the number of home break-ins, burglaries and trespassing has gone up and down from 2014 through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 13 millions property crimes took place in the country in 2018. That works out to more than a hundred per thousand households, or upward of 10 percent.
Besides stealing valuable property, burglars leave victims with a sense of having been violated. Worse still, if you, your family, pets or friends are at home during a break-in, actual violence could occur, whether you confront the trespassers or not.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to deter property crimes and intruders. Most thieves are opportunists. They will go after the easiest pickings. If you make your home a “hard target,” as any castle should truly be, they will move on to softer, easier targets.
How Do Most Burglars Break In?
The smartest way to form a strategy for self-defense of your home and loved ones is to think about how trespassers could break into your place. By listing and then protecting these most common entry points, you can form a solid defense plan that will deter all but the most determined criminals.
1. Front Doors
Sadly, the most common entry point for friends, family, pets and welcome visitors is also the most typical way burglars get into houses and apartments. It’s smart to lock your front door, whether you are away or at home.
Even if you are careful about locking your door, you should make sure family members and guests lock the front door, too. Naturally, you should always lock your front door and other entry points to your home when you are away, whether for a quick errand or trip to the store or a long vacation. But you may want friends, relatives or neighbors to have a way to get into your home in case of an emergency or just to water your plants or feed your fish.
Many folks do this by “hiding” a key to unlock the front door. This is a bad idea. Even fairly low-IQ thieves are all too familiar with the most common places to “hide” keys — under the doormat, in the mailbox, above the door frame and so on. They will quickly find the “hidden” key and waltz into your place undetected.
If you absolutely must have someone enter your home while you are gone, whether to water indoor plants or for some other reason, give them a copy of your key. Of course, choose only the most trustworthy folks for this task and make sure they aren’t the overly generous types who will allow their friends, family and other folks to enter your home while you are gone.
Get good locks for your front door, including deadbolt locks. It’s also wise and affordable to use a standalone door alarm to alert you and others to intruders. When you are at home, you can further strengthen your doors against intruders by using a door security bar.
Windows offer the second most likely entrance point for intruders. It is surprising how many folks leave their home windows open when they are away or when they are asleep when the weather is pleasant. Open windows provide an open invitation to thieves to slip in and out of your home quickly and quietly.
Locking your windows is a must. Even so, that can give a false sense of security. Some locks are flimsy.
Worse, when you are away, a burglar can easily break the window glass. Many folks assume the sound of glass smashing will bring neighbors running to the rescue. Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case. If they hear the sound of breaking glass just once, most folks will assume it’s some kind of minor accident or project and go on about their business without further investigation.
To protect your windows, make sure to use strong locks and latches. Window alarms are also a good idea to alert you, your family and neighbors to intruders.
Also, try not to grow large shrubs in front of your windows. Although greenery offers you privacy, it does the same for burglars.
Trees, Tables, Ladders and Other Climbers
If you live above the ground floor in an apartment or in a house taller than one story, don’t neglect windows that are higher up. Trees, tables, chairs, ladders and other things can give serious break-in artists a boost to where they can get in these higher windows. As with windows downstairs, use good locks and window alarms.
3. Other Doors
If you leave your back door or side door unlocked while locking your front door, you might as well hang a sign in front saying, “Burglars and Trespassers Welcome.” Any serious thief will test all the doors. Place locks on all your home’s doors and use them. Door alarms will provide additional protection.
4. Garage Doors
If you have a garage, remember to keep the overhead garage door closed and securely locked at night or when you are not around. Make sure to lock the door that leads from your garage to your home’s interior too. Placing a door alarm on this door will provide an extra layer of security and safety.
Don’t overlook other potential entry points, like skylights. Keep them shut when you’re asleep or not at home. If your home has a basement with windows or cellar doors, remember these can be used to gain illegal entry to your home as well. Always remember to lock them.
In addition to standalone alarms for doors and windows, consider wireless home alarm systems to protect your whole home. You can customize these systems to fit your exact security and safety needs. Although it will cost more than standalone alarms, a good wireless alarm system will quickly repay your investment in terms of peace of mind. In purely financial terms, just preventing one burglary could more than repay the cost.