Is Your Home a Burglar’s Dream? 14 Tips to Prevent Theft

how to protect your house

Source: Thinkstock

Though it might seem pessimistic, creating an environment that will protect your family and your possessions not from fire or flood, but from other people, is a must. There are many things the average homeowner can do to prevent burglary; some of these precautions can get a little pricey while others can be done for free. If burglary prevention is on your mind, here are some tips for keeping the possessions—and more importantly, the people—in your home safe.

Burglary Prevention for Homeowners on Vacation

Burglary prevention is particularly important when you are on vacation! As your home will be vacant for days or weeks, you want to make sure that it is not more of a target than it needs to be. Hiring a monitoring service to improve home security is, of course, a great idea, but there are a few things you can do yourself that will reduce the likelihood of a break-in while you are away, even if a home monitoring system isn’t in place.

  • Discontinue newspaper delivery or have a neighbor bring in the paper each day. A neighbor can bring in the mail and any other deliveries at the same time.
  • Arrange for someone to keep the lawn trim.
  • Leave a car parked in the driveway.
  • Leave lights and a radio on timers.
  • Don’t record a message on your answering machine or voice mail that says you are gone. If you use an answering machine, have someone remove messages periodically to prevent overloading its message capacity. An overloaded answering machine won’t take messages properly and can tip-off thieves that you are away.

home security alarm

Source: Thinkstock

Standard Burglary Prevention Tips

Vacations aren’t the only time when burglary prevention is an issue. While your home is certainly more susceptible to break-in while you’re away, a home invasion that occurs when your family is in the house is a far scarier scenario. Bad home security habits are hard to break, but the consequences of such habits can be terrible. If the following steps are already a part of your daily routine, congratulations; if they are not, it is in your best interest to take these precautions to heart.

  • Always make sure all easily accessible windows and doors are locked whether you are in the house or not. Second story windows, basement windows, and garage doors are often left unlocked for the homeowner’s convenience or comfort, but when you leave the space, make sure these get locked, too.
  • If you have an alarm, use it! Many break-ins are made much more convenient for intruders because the alarm system that is in place is simply not activated.
  • Control your landscaping. A house that is easily visible from the street and doesn’t provide places for unwanted guests to sneak around is ideal.
  • Install exterior lights that automatically come on when it gets dark and go off when it’s light. Installing lights with motion sensors near entryways is also a good idea.
  • Don’t leave spare keys under the doormat or beneath a flower pot next to the front entrance. Pick a unique and out-of-the-way spot to hide a spare key, if you hide one at all.

home safes

Source: Thinkstock

Burglary Prevention for Valuable Items

Criminals rarely want to hang out and relax in the place they are trying to rob; they’d rather get in and get out. If a break-in does occur, one of the ways to make it less successful for the intruder is to store particularly valuable items properly.

  • Don’t advertise your valuables! One easy and effective part of burglary prevention is simply keeping valuable items away from windows that can be seen by passers-by. If a lot of high-end items are highly visible to anyone walking down the street, guess which house on the block will look most desirable to rob?
  • Hide small, valuable items like jewelry. If you’re going away, don’t place these items in the freezer, as it is an overused hiding place. If you don’t have a safe, a banged-up box high up in a closet or in a remote corner of the basement should suffice; if you do have a safe, do yourself a favor and anchor it with heavy bolts to your floor or your wall studs so it cannot simply be removed from your house and opened later.
  • Engrave your driver’s license number into a metal surface of large valuables like video equipment, computers, and bicycles. While this isn’t exactly burglary prevention, it does increase the odds that the thief is caught and that your possessions are returned. In most jurisdictions, the police will loan you an engraving tool.
  • Photograph valuables as record for insurance purposes. Even better, take a video inventory of each room, zooming in on brand names, model numbers, and serial numbers.

Sad but true, theft can happen to anyone. By taking these steps, however, you’ll reduce how attractive your home is to a would-be thief. If a burglary does occur, following these tips will also increase the odds that he or she will leave your home with less than they had hoped; a disappointed burglar is a good thing!

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: