Each year, there are over two million home burglaries committed nationwide. Most items taken are material items that typically can be replaced. What can’t be easily replaced, however, is the sense of security and peace of mind you had prior to the break in.
Coping with the emotional whiplash from a burglary can be more time-consuming and mentally draining than handling the police reports and insurance adjusters. Listed below are some steps you can take to help make your house a “Hard Target” and help decrease your chances of becoming a victim of crime.
Most burglars are criminals of opportunity. They’re typically only going to target homes they can access easily without being detected. Sociologist that have interviewed burglars have found 3 common factors they use to determine whether or not to rob a home: Time, Noise and Visibility.
Time: Burglars want to get in and out of a house as quickly as possible. The longer it takes to enter a home, the more likely someone will notice and call the police. So the harder you make it to gain entry, the better. Thirty percent (30%) of burglaries are through an unlocked door or garage. Always lock all of your home’s potential entry points. It’s the simplest way to add a buffer of time.
Noise: Burglars look at whether they can do their filching without being noticed. Barking dogs and home security systems will bring unwanted attention to a burglar due to the noise they create. Consequently, burglars will often skip homes with these features.
Visibility: On the other hand, homes that are poorly lit, at night or have lots of trees blocking the main entrance or windows make for enticing targets because they provide a cloak of thieves.
Time, noise, visibility. Part of a solid home security plan is increasing all three of these factors. Which areas do you need to improve upon the most?
Things you can do to make yourself a Hard Target:
- Get to know your neighbors
- Install a home security system
- Get a dog
- Keep the outside of your house in tip-top shape
- Keep the outside of your house well-lit
- Watch what you’ve thrown out in the trash
- Be careful who you let into your home
- Avoid unsolicited help
- Always lock your doors and windows, put dowels in windows and doors
- Reinforce your doors
- Upgrade your locks
- Keep your garage doors closed
- Don’t leave your garage door opener in your car
- Unplug your garage door when you leave for extended periods
While you are away on Vacation:
- Have your neighbor keep your house looking lived in
- Bring in mail and newspapers
- Take your trashcans to the curb and put them back when they are empty
- Put lights and appliances on a timer
- Don’t turn off the air conditioner or heater while your away
- Request a vacation check from a local law enforcement agency
Things to think about:
- Catalog expensive items and engrave ID numbers on them
- Use a safe for valuables
If you arrive home and your door is open or things are out of place, don’t go in. Call 911.
Most people don’t do these steps until they become victims, and by that time it is too late. It doesn’t take much to make you a hard target.
Once the burglars see that your home is a fortress, they will move on to a home that hasn’t taken any precautions. Share these tips with your neighbors and help make your neighborhood these criminals will stay out of.
(Submitted by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office)