According to the FBI, over one million burglaries are committed in the United States each year, with victims suffering an estimated $3 billion in combined property losses.1 Fortunately, there are some proven tactics you can use to decrease your likelihood of a home invasion.
Most burglars won’t go to extreme lengths to enter a residence. They are looking for easy access with minimal risk. A monitored security system can be an effective deterrent—homes without one are 300% more likely to be burglarized—but it isn’t the only way to protect your property.2 The strategies below can help to maximize your home’s security and minimize your chances of being targeted by intruders.
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According to home security company ADT, the most common entry point for a burglar is an unlocked front door (34%) followed by a first-floor window (23%) or back door (22%).3 It is essential to secure these points of entry.
A steel door is generally considered the strongest, but many homeowners prefer the look of wood. Whatever material you choose, make sure it has a solid core and pair it with a Grade 1 or 2 deadbolt lock with a reinforced strike plate.4
Aftermarket window locks are an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can provide an additional layer of protection for your home. Choose a lock that is compatible with your window frame material and a style that is appropriate for the window type. Also, consider using a specialty film on windows that are adjacent to doors. Security film holds shattered glass in place, making the windows more difficult to break through.5
When it comes to outdoor landscaping, many of us think about maintenance and curb appeal. But the choices we make can affect our home’s security, as well. Thieves target homes they can enter and exit without being detected. Here are a few tweaks that can make your property less appealing to potential intruders.
A privacy hedge may keep out nosy neighbors, but it can also welcome thieves—so trim overgrown trees and shrubs that obstruct the view of your property. According to police officers, they offer an ideal environment for criminals to hide.6
Don’t eliminate shrubbery altogether. Certain hedges can actually offer a deterrent to robbers. Plant thorny rose bushes, cactuses, or sharp-leaved holly beneath your first-story windows for both beauty and protection. Add some loose gravel that crunches when disturbed.
When it’s dark outside, criminals don’t need to rely on overgrown shrubbery to hide. Luckily, a well-designed outdoor lighting system can make your home both safer and more attractive.
Eliminate pockets of darkness around your yard and home’s perimeter with strategically placed outdoor lights. Use a combination of flood, spot, well, and pathway lights to add interest and highlight natural and architectural details.
The soft glow of landscape lighting isn’t always enough to dissuade a determined intruder. But a motion-activated security light may stop him in his tracks. Choose a Wi-Fi connected smart version, to receive notifications on your phone when there’s movement on your property.
Motion-activated lights aren’t the only way to make an intruder think you’re at home. New technology has made it increasingly possible to monitor your home while you’re away. This is especially important since most burglaries take place on weekdays between 10 am and 3 pm when many of us are at work or school.2
A survey of convicted burglars revealed the majority avoid breaking into homes if they can hear a television or if there’s a vehicle parked in the driveway.7 If you’re away from home, try connecting your TV to a timer or smart plug. And when you travel, leave your car out or ask a neighbor to park theirs in your driveway.
In that same survey, every respondent said they would knock or ring the doorbell before breaking into a home. A video doorbell not only alerts you to the presence of a visitor, it also enables you to see, hear, and talk with them remotely from your smartphone—so they’ll never know you’re gone.
Few home invasions are conducted by criminal masterminds. In fact, a survey of convicted offenders found that only 12% planned their robberies in advance, while the majority acted spontaneously.8 That’s one of the reasons security experts caution against placing valuables where they are visible from the outside.9
Don’t tempt robbers with a clear view of the most commonly stolen items, which are cash (think purses and wallets), jewelry, electronics, firearms, and drugs (both illegal and prescription).6 Take a walk around your property to make sure none of these items are easily visible.
Consider the possessions that are on display inside your home, as well. It’s always a good idea to lock up firearms, sensitive documents, and expensive or irreplaceable items when you have service providers on your property.
While it’s prudent to hide your valuables, it’s equally important to advertise your home’s security features. In surveys, convicted burglars admit to avoiding homes with obvious protective measures in place.7,8
Security cameras are the most common home protection device and for good reason.10 Not only do they help prevent crime (burglars are known to avoid them), but they also offer peace of mind for homeowners who want to sneak a peek at their property while away.11 And if you experience a break-in, security camera footage can help police identify the intruder.
Security system placards and beware-of-dog signs are also shown to be effective deterrents.8 Of course, you should back up your threats with a noisy alarm and loud barking dog for maximum impact.
Social media platforms can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it’s easy to reveal more than you’ve intended. Be thoughtful about what you’re posting—and who has access.
It can be tempting to upload a concert selfie or pictures from your beach vacation. But these types of photos scream: “My house is unoccupied!” Try to wait until you’ve returned home to share the photos on social media.
Think twice about connecting with strangers or casual acquaintances on social media. If you enjoy sharing family updates and personal photos, it’s safer to limit your followers to those you truly know and trust.
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