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How to Prevent a Burglary

Tips and Tricks to Make Your Home a Less Appealing Target

Your gun safe is the heart of your home security plan, but it shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal. After all, the best form of protection is preventing home burglaries in the first place.

The Initial Approach

First things first: to stop a thief, we’ve got to think like a thief. Residential break-ins follow certain patterns, and thieves tend to target homes that meet certain criteria. More than half of burglaries are unplanned. They start with thieves casing the area, looking for a valuable-yet-easy score.

Once they find an area that looks promising, they start the process of picking the mark. Depending on the thief, this may take a few minutes, or up to several days or weeks of analyzing their possible victims’ schedules.

Choosing a Mark

An empty home makes a happy thief. The majority of burglaries happen during the day, primarily between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, when the residents are most likely to be at work or school. And how do they determine if a house is empty? They start by looking for vehicles. Someone may or may not be home if a vehicle is there, but if no vehicle is there, it’s a good sign the place is empty.

Then they start walking around the premises, peeking in windows with open blinds, or glass doors, to let them see if anyone is home. If the results seem positive, as a final test, most burglars will actually knock on the door to see if anyone answers. If someone does answer, they give a practiced excuse, something like “Sorry, wrong house,” or “Hey, have you seen my dog?”

Now, some burglaries do happen while an occupant is home, but typically that’s not the plan. If no one answers the door, it’s time to check for unlocked doors and windows. Window-mounted AC units are also a good entry point. Hidden keys (which are rarely hidden well) can make for easy access too. If none of that works out, thieves will often just break windows or kick in doors to get inside.

What Attracts a Burglar?

First and foremost, thieves are looking for a house that will be worth the trip. Expensive cars or trucks are a dead giveaway, as are nice houses, and fancy fences. They may check your trash for the boxes that expensive electronics came in. They may also check your vehicle for NRA stickers, since this is a good indicator that the house contains firearms, which happen to be among the most valuable items that they can steal.

They also, as already mentioned, look for signs that no one is home. Piled up mail is a sign that the family is on vacation. Overgrown lawns and yards show the exact same thing. You can sometimes scare thieves off simply by making it look like you’re home. Leaving on lights, the radio, or the TV can all give the appearance that someone’s home.

What Deters a Burglar?

Lastly, when determining which house to hit, thieves check to be sure that the home isn’t properly protected. Nosy neighbors are always a hard pass, though dogs could go either way. Video doorbells are also a deterrent as most burglars approach homes unmasked. This is actually the reason thieves will abandon a whole street if someone answers the door and sees their face.

And those signs advertising home security systems? They can deter a thief, but it won’t always work. While some thieves back off at any sign of security (like actual signs, motion-activated lights, or external cameras), some see branded signs like ADT or Vivint, and then know how to beat the system.

Wireless systems perform better in this regard than wired systems as they’re harder to defeat without technical knowledge (which most thieves don’t have).

Beyond that, it’s simply a matter of making the thief feel as exposed as possible while trying to make their entry. Trimming back bushes and other greenery, making sure entrances are well lit, and asking neighbors to check on your property when you’re away are all good ways to do this.

Along the same lines, alarm sounds from a tripped window, door, or window break sensor will often scare a thief before any further damage is done.

How Do You Protect Your Home?

So, what do you do with all this information? Well, when you’re leaving your home, make sure all your doors and windows are locked. Close your blinds so no one can see inside your home. If you’re leaving on a trip, ask the post office to hold your mail. Have a trustworthy neighbor keep an eye on your home and pick up any packages that may be delivered to your front door. Even consider hiring a neighbor kid to mow your lawn if you’re going to be gone for a while.

On a more technical side, consider installing motion activated lights or cameras. You could even look into a monitored home security system. There are some very affordable do-it-yourself systems where you set up the sensors and the alarm company will actually monitor them for a small monthly fee.

Download our tips on how you can help prevent a burglary here.

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