Protect Your Home While You're Away: Burglary Defense Tips
- Have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers.
During an extended vacation, make arrangements to have someone mow your lawn or trim your bushes.
- Leave lights on automatic timers.
- Notify your local police department that you will be away.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by your house periodically; have them open and close blinds, turn on different lights.
- Let your neighbors know when you are leaving and when you plan to return home and if you are expecting anybody at your house while you are away.
- Burglars want easy access to your home. Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed near all doors and windows where intruders might hide. Add exterior lights and consider lights that are activated by motion sensors.
- Burglars like to work quickly, so try to slow down their path into and around the house. You can accomplish this with:
- deadbolt locks
- window locks
- bars placed in the tracks or track locks on all sliding glass doors and windows (if they would not impede your escape in an emergency)
- locks on all doors and windows
- Don't place the fact you are gone on your telephone answering machine.
- Don't hide your keys on your property.
- A nosy neighbor is a burglar's worst enemy. Get to know your neighbors and work out an arrangement to watch each other's houses. Let them know when you will be gone and whether any deliveries are expected during your absence.
- Store jewelry and other valuables in a safe hiding place, such as a safety deposit box.
- Go through each room and write down a list of possessions, including serial numbers. Take pictures of your valuables and keep them in a safe place or with a friend or relative. This will help in the event of a burglary.
Install and use an alarm system. Consider a cellular phone link for the alarm in the event phone lines are cut. Post a sign on doors and windows showing that the residence has an alarm. Have several outdoor sirens pointing to each neighborís house and have an indoor siren as well to unnerve intruders inside the home.
∑ Equip patio doors with proper fitting safety bars.
Have good safe locks on all doors. Use auxiliary deadbolt locks
on all exterior doors. Lock the doors when you go out, even for
just a minute.
∑ Make sure ground floor windows are securely locked.
∑ Do not indicate in any way that you live alone.
∑ Before opening your door, always visually check to see who is there, this probably means having a peephole installed. It is advisable to have a wide-angle viewer (peep-hole) in the door so that you can check a person's identity without unlocking the door. Never open your door to strangers and instruct your children to do the same, if you have an intercom system, use it.
∑ Plant thorny shrubs, under windows to discourage would-be thieves.
∑ Trim shrubs along sidewalks, near the doors and windows so that no one can hide behind the shrubs. If shrubs are quite mature and large, be sure to trim them from the ground up so that no one can crouch behind them.
∑ Locate large trees away from the house so that they can't be climbed to gain entry to a second story window.
∑ Keep an inventory of your possessions and place it in a secure place, i.e. safe deposit box. Photographs or videotapes are good ways to keep an accurate record.
∑ Keep an inventory of your credit card numbers and phone numbers in case of theft.
∑ Borrow or rent an engraving unit and put your drivers license number on appliances such as televisions, VCR units, video camera, stereos, etc.
∑ Invest in good external lighting, i.e. sensor lights.
∑ Always keep garage doors closed.
∑ Only allow people you know into your home - individuals representing the utility or Telephone Company will have identification and you should ask to see it. Even law enforcement should have proper identification.
∑ Never allow anyone into your home that asks to use your telephone. Instead, place the call for them while they wait outside.
∑ Employ individuals/workers from reputable firms only to work in and around your home.
∑ Never sign contracts without expert opinions.
∑ Never leave your garage door opener in a vehicle parked in your driveway.
∑ Keep valuables out of sight in an uncommon place. Keep your costume jewelry in your jewelry box and your valuable and sentimental jewelry well hidden.
∑ If you have a safe, make sure it is physically secured to your house. A simple hand truck can move a very large safe.
Don't hide your key outside the door, under mats, flowerpots,
over moldings, etc. If you can hide it, a burglar can find it.
If you want an extra key nearby, leave one with a trusted
neighbor and/or family member.
∑ Keep personal areas in your home off limits to visitors.
∑ Never give the keys to your home to a stranger. If you must leave a key with an auto shop or parking attendant, leave only the key to the carís ignition and take all other keys with you. If you have a valet key, use it!
∑ Never have your name or address imprinted on your keys or key ring. Use a post office box or a key finders service address.
Replace burned out lights. Well-lit areas discourage burglars
by taking away their hiding places. Inventory your outside
lights and have the proper spare bulbs on hand.
Use metal grillwork on glass in entrance doors and decorative
side glass to prevent burglars from breaking the glass and
reaching inside to open the door.
Be alert for unusual activities. If you see an unknown person
loitering in or around a neighbor's yard, don't be afraid to
check his or her identity with your neighbor by phone.
When working in an attic, basement, around the property or
anyplace away from the main area of the house, lock up!
∑ Vary your routine. If you follow the same routine weekly, a would-be burglar could watch your movements and know when your house is likely to be empty.
Your exterior doors should be very strong. Metal or solid
hardwood at least 1 3/4 inches thick are the best to have.
Ensure the frames are made of strong material and fit its frame
snuggly. It's fairly pointless to put the best dead bolt in your
door if the door is weak. Also, keep in mind, do not make your
home such a fortress that you will not be able to escape in case
of a fire or other emergency.
And, if you are away for any reason:
∑ Let a neighbor know that you are going away and for how long and how to reach you in case of an emergency.
∑ Make sure that all mail is picked up when you are away.
∑ Have someone mow your lawn in the summer and shovel your drive (or have a neighbor drive his car in and out a couple times) after a snowfall.
∑ Don't advertise your absence on your answering machine; simply state that you are unavailable.
∑ Donít leave a note on your door telling people that you are not at home.
∑ Put lights on a timer system in multiple rooms set for multiple times.
∑ Unplug your garage door opener from the power outlet. This will prevent a thief from using a garage door code scanner to open your door while you are away. Make sure you have an exterior door key so you can get in your house.