The vast majority of home burglaries share some distinct attributes. Criminals who break into homes are looking for a fast, in and out hit. They specifically search for an home security weakness to gain access quickly and grab items they can convert into cash quickly. While there are undeniably burglars that will target a particular house, stake it out and put a lot of effort into gaining entry, most burglars will seek out any house they can slip quickly into without too much work. They look for open or unlocked windows and doors or cheaper doors that can be easily forced. Knowing their habits and how they pick a home to burglarize, will give you the information you need to effectively prevent break-ins.
Despite being in the open, many thieves target the front door. If they can get in quickly enough their chances of being seen are low. First they will check all the typical hiding spots for spare keys. Many homeowners believe their hiding spot is safe, but thieves know where to look. We can’t stress enough that spare keys should not be left lying around in our Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid post. If a spare can’t be found, they will simply force the door. If you rely on the simple lock in the knob assembly you are making it easy for the burglar. These locks are never sufficient. A crowbar inserted at the lock point will generate enough force to either bow the frame or push the strike plate right through the wood.
Exterior doors should always be solid core, preferably metal.
Upgrade your locks to include a Grade 1 deadbolt. These have much stronger component parts and the bolt reaches further into the frame giving a better strength rating.
The strike plate should be good quality and installed with three inch screws. The long screw will reach into the house’s main framing members, so it is much less likely to rip out if someone tries to bow the frame. Look for strike plates with more than two mounting screws to increase strength. If your door is wood, install a wrap around metal plate. These plates cover the area around the locks and knobs strengthening the door and preventing the use of screwdrivers and crowbars to rip out the locks. Don’t keep any spare keys outside your home. Leave them with a trusted neighbor.
Exterior doors should be well lit. Burglars like to work in the dark, so creating uniform lighting across your home's periphery to minimize dark areas is a simple way to reduce potential burglaries. You can consider installing a Maximus Smart Security Light, an integrated light and security camera, for your front door. For full coverage, the Maximus Camera Floodlight is great for driveways and the garage.
Just because you use an entrance door less often doesn’t mean a thief will ignore it. Many secondary entrances have cheaper doors and locks. Their locations also usually provide more cover to someone working to gain entry.
Secondary entrance doors should have all of the security that your main entrance does. In fact, if they are rarely used for entry, consider adding interior sliding bolts and/or door bars. These make it almost impossible to force the door while still giving you access from the inside for emergency exits. Basement doors are a prime use of these as they are rarely used as an entrance.
Windows are the most fragile entry point to your home. The sound of breaking glass is usually not heard by neighbors who are likely to be away from home when you are. Windows are also not equipped with locks, only latches, making them much easier to force without breaking the glass.
During warmer months the percentage of break-ins via windows skyrockets for a simple reason, people leave their windows open, even when they leave home. An open window is an invitation to anyone who walks past. Even when closed, windows are left unlatched much more often then doors.
All windows should have secondary locking mechanisms installed on them. Wooden windows are easily secured by drilling a hole through the bottom panel’s stile half-way into the upper panel’s stile. Use a bolt, nail or dowel pushed through the hole to secure the window. Make sure you leave part sticking out so you can remove it. Jiggle the window to make sure the bolt is tight enough that it won’t work itself free.
Newer windows made from aluminum or vinyl have track locks that can be installed to stop the window from freely moving up and down. Some track locks can be positioned that the window can be left open 4-6 inches to allow for ventilation.
Always close your windows when you leave home. Even for a quick trip to the store. Check window locks and sills regularly.
Even when a homeowner locks doors and windows on the first floor, many items commonly left in yards can give a burglar easy access to second floor windows or balcony doors. This could be something as obvious as a ladder stored next to a garage, patio furniture, sheds, grills or even a child’s plastic play house. Trees growing close to the house can provide a nice perch. Burglars will be on the lookout for anything they can use to get to the higher doors and windows that may be unlocked or even open.
This can be the easiest problem to address and solve. Simply don’t leave anything around your home that can be used to climb. Keep ladders and grills locked in the garage. Install sheds away from the house and anchored down so they can’t be moved. Trim any tree limbs away from the house. Also trim any bushes or shrubs that grow around your home’s perimeter as they can provide cover. Trim the growth below the level of all windows and up 12 inches from the ground so they can’t be used to hide.
Periodically inspect all locks to check for signs of damage. Remember that all hardware used to protect your home is subject to wear and tear. Inspect these regularly and stick to security hardware maintenance schedules. Make your home a tough target and prevent break-ins.
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