It’s almost summer and that means barbecues, vacations, and … sadly, prime time for home burglaries. Every 15 seconds, a home is burglarized in the U.S. — mostly in July and August, when windows are more likely to be left open for ventilation and families go on vacation. And the best times of day? Often between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when people are least likely to be home.
So, how do you keep your house from being targeted? Here’s a list of easy-to-use tips to help protect you from home burglary this summer (and all year round).
Thwart a break-in
The most popular entry point for a burglar is your front door, and in some cases, they can get in just by kicking it open (especially if the door has a wooden jamb). Some burglars will actually knock to see if anyone’s home during the day (if you are, they may just make up a story or hand you a fake flyer and move along). If the house is quiet but the front door seems too conspicuous, a burglar might go around to a back door or try a window away from the street.
The average burglar can break into a home in under a minute. If it takes longer than that, they’re likely to move on to their next target. Here are some ways to make your house less appealing and harder to infiltrate:
- Maintain your lawn and keep any shrubbery well-manicured and low in front of your house. Tall greenery provides an easy hiding place for burglars, and an overgrown lawn advertises carelessness or an extended absence.
- Don’t hide a key anywhere on your property. The safest solution is to give a copy to a trusted neighbor or friend so there’s no chance a burglar could find your spare set.
- Whether you’ve got a big noisy dog or not, it’s worth investing in one of those “beware of dog” signs for the front of your house.
- Setting up a security camera in the front and back of your home is a good idea too. Plus, certain mobile security apps, like Alarm.com, let you know if someone approaches your home when you’re not there.
- Rather than planting a fake alarm company’s sign along your walkway, invest in a real home alarm system. It’s best not to advertise which one you have — expert burglars may look into potential flaws for particular systems.
- Motion-sensor lights are also a smart buy for the front and back of your home. If a burglar is skulking around late at night, a simple floodlight can help deter them from going any further.
- Chances are you have a TV in your living room or bedroom (the average U.S. household has at least 2 TVs). Keeping your blinds and curtains closed during the day prevents burglars from “window-shopping” when you’re not home.
Protect your belongings
Let’s say a burglar made it past your recently trimmed hedges, fumbled with your locked doors, and finally smashed a window at the back of your house to get inside. On average, a home robbery takes only 8-10 minutes to complete. But is all lost if they get in? Not necessarily. Use these tips for protecting the valuables inside your home.
- Burglars usually start in the master bedroom — where there’s likely to be jewelry, cash, and other valuables (like family heirlooms, checks, etc.). If you store cash at home but don’t have a bolted-down safe, it’s usually a good idea to put larger sums of money in unlikely spots, like an envelope taped under your kitchen sink or under an infant’s changing table. Still, the safest place for a lot of cash is the bank.
- Consider securing your TV to a wall. If it can’t be removed easily, it’s more likely to be left behind. Video games, on the other hand, are portable and turn a decent profit for very little effort (2 things burglars love). Consoles and video games, when not in use, are best kept in locked drawers in your entertainment unit.
- It’s also good to keep laptops, jewelry, and other light valuables hidden when you’re not at home. But where’s the wisest place to put them? A handy spot is in your linen closet or closet shelves, wrapped in towels or sweaters.
- Never leave checks, credit cards, or even junk mail (like credit card offers) lying around. Try storing credit cards and important documents in sealed padded mailers with deceptive labels (example: “wisdom teeth x-ray”) or putting them in envelopes and taping them to the bottom of a dresser drawer (so you can reach them from the inside by opening the drawer below). Credit card offers and other junk mail with your name on it should be shredded and recycled right away.
- Likewise, password-protect your laptop and all other electronic devices. If a burglar does happen to find your iPad®, at least you’ve got a better chance of keeping your identity intact.
One of the best ways to defend your home and finances against home burglary is to get insured. If the worst does happen, homeowners or renters coverage can help you repair or replace your belongings without forcing you to shell out your hard-earned savings. Many insurers offer identity theft expense coverage too, which helps you protect your identity and get back on track if it’s stolen.
Make sure you’ve got the right amount of coverage by learning how to take a thorough home inventory.