Did you know a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the United States? There are some simple ways you can help protect yourself and your home from being a target. Here are 6 tips from professional burglars.
1. More burglaries occur during the day than during the nighttime. The most popular time for a break in is between 12:30 and 2:30 pm, when burglars know that there is a high likelihood that people are at work or school. Weekend burglaries are the least common burglaries as homeowner schedules are too unpredictable. It may sound obvious, but don't leave your easily accessible windows open while you're out doing the grocery shopping, be sure to lock your doors and garage doors, and don't leave notes on the door telling the UPS driver you're not home and to leave the package at the back door!
2. Don't post your vacation pictures or check in on social media while you're away. Wait until you get home to share your vacation photos and shenanigans. Burglars troll social media sites to find out who is not home. Even if your accounts are set to prvate, a burglar may stumble upon your post being shared or liked by a friend. It's easy enough to Google your name and get your address. It's tempting to share your adventures in real time, but be safe and wait until you get home. Your friends will still like your pictures!
3. Use an alarm system and tricks to make it look like you're home. While tv shows make it look super easy for a burglar to disarm or work around your alarm system, it is the first defense against a break-in. Be sure to use a strong code - definitely not your house number or birthday or anniversary date. Clean keypads regularly so soil or fingerprints won't give away the digits to your code. Invest in motion sensor lights and bright floodlights, two things burglars don't like! Leave a tv or radio on, and invest in some light timers to make it look and sound as if you're home. You can get relatively inexpensive timers that you can control via your phone. Pay a neighbor to shovel snow or bring in mail and newspapers.
4. Do not post bumper stickers, window or yard signs advertising your support for guns or the fact that you're home is "protected by Smith & Wesson" as these turn you into a target. Thieves like to steal and sell guns. A gun is stolen every 2 minutes in the US. Don't add to that number.
5. Keep large shrubs and landscaping pieces trimmed so burglars can't hide in them. Be sure to provide a clear view to your doors and porches, which makes a thief think twice about trying to enter your home. Think about placement before installing ornamental or architectural items to your yard. Thieves like fences and small walls. They may give you some privacy but they also provide a hiding or staging place for burglars.
6. Protect your valuables by keeping them out of sight. Don't entice thieves by leaving jewelry, keys, laptops and other expensive items in front of windows and in view of passersby. And don't leave the box your new tv came in out on recycling day. Break boxes up and pack them together with any identifying information on the inside, not on display to everyone who drives or walks past your house. It's okay to advertise the local pizza shop but not your latest expensive purchase.
In addition, be sure to immediately change your locks when you move into a new house. While the sellers may be the nicest people in the world, there's no telling who they gave a key to and where their keys ended up. Change garage door codes, too. There's no sense in changing door locks if someone can just open your garage door and walk in!