What simple steps should I take to make my home more burglar proof?

Learn the facts about home safety before calling a monitoring service.
Nobody likes the thought (or actual experience) of someone burglarizing his or her home. FBI statistics show that a home, condominium, or apartment is burglarized once every 15 seconds. But there is one great deterrent to help prevent burglary: you! Though having a monitoring service provides peace of mind in knowing your most important investments of family and home are safe, you can take a few simple precautions on your own to greatly reduce the chances of your home being burglarized.

What are burglars really looking to find?
Burglars have the frame-of-mind to "get in and get out quickly" when they've determined a victim's house is a potential jackpot. They want to find something that is actually worth stealing; they seek easy access with extremely low visibility; and more importantly, they want to find a house that's unoccupied. They really don't care about the dangers of the job, because the benefits usually will win out. And if you think burglars simply break in like you've seen in the movies under the cover of night, think again. More residential burglaries happen during the daytime because homes are usually vacant!

What can I do to keep burglars at bay?
The following comprehensive list provides no guarantee that you won't become a burglary victim. However, you'll find that these tips will reduce greatly the chances that a burglar will eye your home as the "silver tuna." Here's what you can do:

  • Make your home look occupied. Turn on porch lights and leave lamps on inside vacant rooms. Even when you're away from home at work or vacation, use automatic timers to turn on lights inside the home. For the outside, install motion detector lights aimed at main doors and windows so that when tripped, burglars are less likely to try those illuminated entrances.

  • Get your neighbors to pick up your mail and newspapers. Burglars see an overflowing mailbox and piles of newspapers on the driveway, and it's the same as you having a neon sign on the side of the house saying "Rob this place." Don't do it! Ask your neighbors to pick up the items for you until you return. Another alternative is to consult the postal service and your newspaper carrier about halting delivery until you return.

  • Pull in your garbage can. If your garbage company shows up on Monday morning, and you've set your garbage can out on Sunday night but aren't returning home until Friday, that's a long time for your garbage can to be out at the curb. Ask your neighbor to roll your garbage can back to your home the day the trash is picked up so that it's not so obvious to burglars that you're away.

  • Choose thorny bushes if you want any overgrowth. Every home has some kind of landscaping, but not all of the large plant choices are good in terms of helping to deter burglary. High, unkempt bushes near doors and windows are prime spots for burglars to hide. Make sure shrubs and bushes are always trimmed back, and seek out thorny ones to remind would-be burglars that your home is off limits.

  • Secure all doors and windows when you leave the house. Even if you plan to spend a day doing yard work, don't take any chances: lock all doors that are out-of-sight. Install good, quality deadbolts in addition to door locks for added security. Make sure you close your window blinds/curtains to make sure Peeping Toms can't see what valuables you've got inside your home.

  • Don't invite strangers into your home. Ever had the doorbell ring during dinner and it's someone who wants to sell you meat out of the back of their truck? We're not saying they don't have a legitimate business. However, be cautious of people who approach you at your home or in your neighborhood during odd times of the day. They could be scoping out your place as a future target of burglary. Use a peephole to identify strangers, and never feel obligated to open the door for anyone you don't know.

  • Don't announce that you're going to be out of town. Though you may be extremely excited about that trip to Hawaii you're taking with your wife, don't post on any social networks about your travel plans. Criminals are using social networks increasingly to scope out potential victims to rob.

  • Install a security system. You want one that has a loud alarm and (if possible) flashing lights to get the attention of all around. An alarm system sign posted somewhere on your property as well as alarm system decals on windows will help keep burglars away if they know you're protected by a monitoring service. To find excellent alarm system installation professionals in your area, search Kudzu.com.

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