According to the FBI, a home break-in occurs every 13 seconds, most often in daylight hours, and 30% of the time the burglar came in through an unlocked or open window or door. “Nonprofessional” thieves look for empty homes with the easiest access with cover that hides them from the eyes of passing traffic. They want expensive items that are easy to carry and sell, like jewelry, guns, computers and gadgets and small electronics like flat-screen TVs.
Let’s review how to keep your home and valuables safe while you’re away for the day or an extended spell.
A Monitored Alarm System
Roughly 17% of U.S. homes have a security system, and those without one are up to 300% more likely for a break-in. Burglars will skip a home they believe to have a sophisticated security system, so a remotely monitored system with a reputable security company is a wise investment in your safety.
The ubiquity of smartphones makes it easy to set up your own monitoring system. Affordable products like the like iZone Wi-Fi Video Monitor or the Canary Home Security Device let you keep an eye on your home no matter where you are, and can even monitor changes in temperature, light and noise levels.
Once you have a monitored security system, get in the habit of using it, even when leaving the house for a quick trip to the store. There’s nothing more frustrating than an easy break-in because the alarm wasn’t set.
Keep Cars in the Garage
Instead of using it for extra storage space, use it to keep your cars out of sight while you’re home. The coming and going of cars is easy for a thief to monitor, but they can’t monitor what they can’t see. Be sure your overhead garage door has a locking mechanism at the bottom of the door, because doors that lock through a remote control may also be opened by a passing universal remote.
Strengthen Doors & Windows
Doors – Make it hard for burglars to come in through their preferred access with solid core or metal exterior doors with a deadbolt lock and a heavy-duty strike plate with 3” screws into the frame. For sliding glass doors, insert a wooden dowel or metal rod into the door track to prevent it from being slid open.
Windows – They are left unlocked far more than doors, so make a habit of locking all closed windows. They usually have only latches, so consider investing in a secondary locking device on the more vulnerable windows on the ground floor of your home.
Light Up Your House
Police officers confirm that the simplest act of deterring thieves is to turn on your porch light at night. Beefing up your exterior lighting makes it difficult for thieves to lurk in the nighttime shadows. Along with motion-activated lights at all points of entry into your home, turn on yard and porch lights when the sun sets, and consider putting them on timer so they come on even when you’re gone.
AWAY ON VACATION SECURITY
Keep Them Guessing
Make it hard to tell if your house is vacant. It’s crucial to put timers (shown above) on several lamps and lights throughout the house so lights turn off and on in a random pattern, replicating someone in the house. Putting timers on a radio or television is a good way to generate sounds.
Stop regular delivery of mail, newspaper or dry cleaning while you’re away so nothing visible piles up.
In the summer, lawns and shrubs need to be maintained. And in the winter, there’s no better sign that no one’s home than a snow-covered drive or sidewalk. Make arrangements to have lawns mowed or walks shoveled while you’re away.
Before walking out the door to start your vacation, check that all windows and doors in the home are locked, paying special attention to basement, garage and screened porch doors. Check the batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and that all parts of your security system have fresh battery power. To avoid complications from power surges or outages, unplug all non-essential items like clocks, microwave ovens, stereos and computers.
Let trusted neighbors or friends know you are leaving and how to get a hold of you should something go awry. And let your alarm company know that you will be away.
Don’t Share Your Vacation
Refrain from sharing vacation photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram while you’re away. You may trust your social media friends, but can you vouch for their circles of friends? The criminal minds sees your vacation snaps as a clear sign you’re not home, so save up those memories to share once you’re back home.
For help with keeping your home safe and secure in the St. Louis area, call the Mosby Building Arts office at 314.909.1800, or contact them here.