1. Don’t trust someone just because your recognize them.
A burglar could look familiar. They might have been cleaning your carpet, painting your shutters or delivering your new refrigerator last week. Perhaps they made a trip to the restroom while you were working in the yard and unlatched the window so they could return easily. On that note, be sure to check all window latches to make sure they are secure after any service representative has been in your home.
2. Don’t leave expensive items out in the yard.
Extensive landscaping, expensive kid’s toys, bicycles, etc., could spark a potential burglar’s imagination as to what might be inside.
3. Don’t leave newspapers piled up on driveways or flyers laying out on the front porch.
4. Don’t let the alarm company install the alarm system where it can be seen from a window or glass door.
If a burglar can see the system, they will know whether or not the alarm is activated. And remember, your alarm system only works when it’s turned on. Why spend money on a fancy alarm system if you aren’t going to use it?
5. Don’t leave your doors unlocked.
So, it’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella and you forget to lock the front door as you leave. Burglars don’t take the day off because of bad weather. If they knock and you don’t answer, they might hit the jackpot and walk right in if your door isn’t locked.
6. Don’t let an unexpected stranger into your home or take them up on their offer to provide random services.
Burglars often knock first. They might even carry a clipboard or look like a lawn guy. If you answer, chances are they will claim to be there to service your internet, cable, AC, clean your gutters, etc. Always call to check with the service provider to see if they sent someone. Almost always, you should know whether to expect someone or not. Also, their service representatives should carry a badge of identification. Ask for them to show it to you.
7. Place your valuables in an unexpected spot.
Avoid leaving valuables out in the open or in other obvious places like: the master bedroom closet, a dresser drawer or the medicine cabinet. Here’s a helpful hint: convicted burglars report they almost never go into kid’s rooms.
8. If you have valuables in a safe, be sure to bolt it down.
If the safe isn’t too large to move or bolted down, the burglar will just take it with him.
9. When you are away from home, leave the TV or radio on.
If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you are away or out of town, you can buy a device for $35 that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television (www.faketv.com).
10. Do have loud dogs and nosy neighbors.
Most of us scold our dogs when they bark at someone knocking on the door. It’s actually a good thing! Burglars report that loud dogs and nosy neighbors are two of the best deterrents.
11. Keep your windows and window coverings closed.
Burglars often peep in windows to look for valuable items and to see if you’re home. They might drive or walk through the neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, to pick their targets. An open window is an open invitation.
12. Don’t announce your vacation on social media.
If you account isn’t 100% private, do not announce your vacation. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.
13. Wave goodbye when you leave.
Even if no one is there, pretend to wave goodbye to someone. Burglars are less likely to break in when they think someone is home.
14. Lock your yard gate.
Most often, burglars break in through the back door or window. If you lock the gate to your backyard, you are making their job that much harder. And, hopefully, they will move on.
15. Trim your shrubs.
If you have shrubs or bushes taller than window height, you’ve provided a nice place for burglars to hide if someone begins to notice them.
16. Don’t stash spare keys outside the house.
Burglars know to look: under the doormat, flowerpot, rock or on a ledge, etc. Don’t make it easy for them to get into your home. Leave spare keys with a neighbor your trust.
17. A surveillance camera is a good idea.
And, if you can’t afford a real one, you can purchase a look-alike online for less than $20.
If someone does break in while you are home, stay calm. If at all possible, run out of the home quickly and call for help. Having a safe room is also a good idea. Even if it’s just a closet that opens out that you can put a deadbolt on. If you do have to go into your safe room, be sure to take your cell phone and a charger. If, during the robbery, you are confronted, stay calm. Raise your hands to shoulder level and tell the burglar you are willing to cooperate. Having your hands at shoulders is not threatening, but you are able to defend yourself if need be. Do not make eye contact. Call for help as soon as possible. Another good idea is to set up a code word/phrase with your security company, such as: “No, I can’t meet you tomorrow.”
Since the invention of the deadbolt and with the prevalence of security systems, robberies are on the decline. However, it is important to have a plan before this happens to you. It can be scary to think about these things and especially to bring them up with your children, but you should talk to your family and loved ones about what to do if the situation arises.