Many people feel somewhat helpless when it comes to home burglaries. It is common to hear someone say, ”If a Burglar wants to break in, you are not going to stop them”…thankfully this is not the case. Burglars apply the same work ethic to breaking in to homes that they do in life…they are lazy and look for the easiest targets. As a result, you can greatly reduce your chances of your home being burglarized if you do some or all of the following tips and make your home less of an easy target.
Lock all doors, sliding glass doors and windows…many burglars simply walk in.
Close your garage doors all the way. Persons leaving their garage doors partially open for pets or ventilation are an invitation to criminals. Criminals simply drop to the ground, roll under the door and gain entrance to your garage. Once in the garage, they can take their time breaking into your home. There are tools for them to use. It is very easy to get into most homes through the garage. They can break through the walls leading into the house or climb up into the attic and drop down through the ceiling into your home.
Equip all exterior doors with a dead-bolt lock with a one-inch throw. The lock should also have a highly pick-resistant cylinder. Some versions even have guard plate, which adds to the security.
Exterior doors that have windows or glass panels in them or near them are attractive to criminals, especially side doors leading into garages. Criminals simply break the glass, reach around and unlock the lock. For these doors, it is recommended that a “double cylinder deadbolt” be used. This is simply a deadbolt that needs a key for both sides. When a criminal reaches around, he cannot turn the lock. For safety reasons, please place an additional key on the inside of your home where you can reach it easily (in case of emergencies), but the bad guy can’t.
Don’t list your name on your mailbox or house. However, it is very important that your house number is clearly visible for emergency responders. It is a good idea to have your house number both on your mailbox and in a lighted location on your home.
Whenever you go outside, lock your doors and close your garage door, even if you are just stepping next door or out mowing the back yard. It is not uncommon for burglars to watch you do lawn work as they burglarize your home. They can see you easily…but you cannot see them.
Sometimes they pose as someone legitimate so they can go through a front door. Don’t let criminals get too much visual information at your front door. Criminals often come to the front door to…
See if anyone is home.
See if the home is easy to break into.
See if there is a dog.
See if there is an “activated” alarm system.
See if there appears to be anything worth stealing.
If possible, block the view from the front door into your home. Install a door viewer or “peephole” so that you can see visitors, but they cannot see you. If you have an alarm system, use it. An inactivated alarm system, especially one that has a control panel that can be seen from the front door is an invitation to be burglarized. Consider placing alarm and “Beware of Dog” signs and/or stickers around your from entrance even if you do not have an alarm or a dog as an additional deterrent to thieves.
When on vacation, make your house look as “lived in” as possible.
Have a trusted neighbor or friend remove accumulating newspapers, etc.
Consider placing interior and on timers and exterior lights on “dusk to dawn” sensors.
Keeping exterior lights during daytime hours is a bad practice and can alert criminals to the fact that you are away.
Consider leaving a locked vehicle (with no valuables) parked in the driveway or ask a trusted neighbor to use your driveway to give the appearance someone is there.
Reduce the amount of people you tell that you are leaving…only tell those who truly need to know.
Check with your local law enforcement agency to see if they can put your home on a “Vacation Watch” while you are away. If your home is patrolled by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, please call (904) 225-5174.
Walk around your house and say to yourself… “If I were a burglar, where would I hide?” Trim trees and shrubs so burglars have fewer places to hide. Especially around doors and windows. If you need to fence a back yard consider fences that are see-thru. Visibility helps deter crime be allowing detection by others.
It is recommended not to keep large amounts of cash or very valuable jewelry around the house. However, if you have to, consider installing a heavy, bolted down, floor safe. If you have to resort to hiding valuables…think of innovative ideas. Nightstand drawers and between the mattress are bad ideas.
Don’t open the door until you are sure of your visitor’s identity. If someone asks for help and you are concerned for your safety…tell him or her through your locked door…“I am calling the police for you right now”. Call 911 immediately when you are concerned about a suspicious person.
Do not trust chain locks for the front doors. Once the door is cracked open, even slightly, criminals can easily break the chain and force their way in often times injuring you in the process.
Don’t leave a house key under a mat, in the mailbox, or in any other obvious “hiding” area near the door.
Keep keyholes of locks well lubricated to reduce the effectiveness of professional burglary tools.
If your house keys have been stolen or lost, replace the lock cylinders for all of your exterior doors immediately.
Be sure to reset your automatic garage door openers from their factory/default settings.
Consider planting thorny bushes or plants under all windows which will deter criminals getting too close to them.
Consider investing in a good security system and have it monitored so that the alarm company will notify law enforcement officers if there is a break in. Having a good quality system that never gives false alarms will generally provoke neighbors to take more interest should an alarm sound. Consider opting for the exterior speaker that will alert people outside.
Don’t leave ladders, shovels, rakes, etc. outside. Keep any tools that could be used to break in your home safely locked away in a garage or shed.
Position outdoor lights carefully and consider having them activate with motion control sensors. Try to place them in a location that makes it difficult for criminals to break them or unscrew the bulb.
Consider installing additional window locks to stop windows from being opened if broken. Thieves will typically break the glass and reach for the factory lock. If they unlock it and the window still will not open (due to your installation of a secondary lock) there is a good chance the thief will get frustrated and leave. There is very low probability the thief will climb through jagged/broken glass. Ensure all family members are aware of location and how to remove the locks in case of emergency.
Keep a record of all of your valuables to include pictures and serial numbers if possible. Consider engraving all valuables such as televisions, stereos, microwaves, with your driver’s license number. Pawnshops are required to report suspicious items to police that could lead to your stolen items being returned to you. Engraving tools are usually available on loan from your local law enforcement agency or by purchasing from your local hardware store. It is also a good idea to videotape the contents of your home and keep it and the record of your valuables in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.
If you should return home to find your door open or tampered with, DO NOT enter. Go immediately to a safe location and call 911 to report a possible burglary in progress.
Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 911 immediately.