As the economy stumbles, making budgets tighter all around, crime rates have risen — especially theft-related offenses. Desperate people do desperate things, and even the best neighborhoods are no longer exempt from break-ins and robberies. In fact, nicer neighborhoods are often targeted because thieves know they’re guaranteed to find goods they can sell for cash.
We all know criminals are lazy, because if they weren’t, they’d get a job and work for their money like the rest of us. With the knowledge that these lazy losers like quick victims, people often wonder: What can our family do to make sure our house doesn’t look like an easy target?
Below are 9 top tips recommended by security experts to help your home look like it’s not easy to rob:
1. Looking Lived In—
The number one thing everyone can do to deter criminals is: always make the home look like somebody’s there.
This can mean parking your car in the driveway while your spouse is at work, having a table with coffee mugs and chairs on your porch to give it a “we hang out here” vibe, or keeping a filled bird feeder in front of your home.
Thieves choose empty homes for minimal hassle, so any way you can make your house seem lively and inhabited will help keep criminals away.
2. Let the Light Shine—
Like the human cockroaches they are, thieves scurry away when light is shined on them, so install motion-detecting flood lighting around your home’s perimeter, focusing on the driveway to prevent car theft, and of course, the front door area.
If you don’t have motion sensor-triggered lighting, leaving the porch light on at night can help keep the bad guys away.
A light facing a front window, set to go on and off randomly with a timer is also an inexpensive yet very effective way to make a potential criminal think twice about choosing your home to rob.
3. Dogs Sound Dangerous—
You don’t need to have a large dog to protect your home, unless you want to, of course. But if you prefer a smaller dog, interviews with convicted thieves have taught us that criminals definitely avoid homes in which they hear barking.
Large dogs offer a visual deterrent that many find helpful for enhanced feelings of safety, but little dogs make great alarm systems, and their painful, bacteria-laden bite is nothing to dismiss as harmless.
If you can’t adopt a dog or have allergies, consider placing “Beware of Dog” signs on your front porch area and/or gates leading to the backyard, as this has also been shown to deter criminals.
4. Noise Means No—
If you’re going away on vacation, consider leaving a television or radio playing loudly to make it seem as if someone is home. These noise makers can also be set on a random timer to make them more convincing.
And speaking of noise, turn off all phone ringers when you’re not home as well. If a burglar is listening at a window or door to determine whether or not somebody’s home, an unanswered phone is just the confirmation they’ll need.
5. Remove the Routine—
Creepy as it seems, sometimes criminals watch houses for weeks ahead of time, trying to learn its inhabitants’ schedules. Then, once they determine the daily “empty time” for the home, they move in for the robbery.
To make it harder for someone to learn your routine, try to mix it up as much as possible. This means taking a different route to and from work a few times a week, or maybe driving home for lunch sporadically.
If you work from home, don’t run errands at the exact same time every day, and park your car in and out of the garage on random days to confuse spying eyes.
6. Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs—
Consider having a professional security system installed, and place the company’s yard signs on your property to make it clear you’re protected. If a thief thinks an alarm will sound when they break into your home, they’re going to find another victim.
Be sure to also place security company stickers on back windows to let potential criminals know that the entire house is protected.
7. Under Lock and Key—
Remember the potential thief that might be watching your home? That creep can see exactly where you hide your “secret” extra key, as can your neighbors or anyone else who happens to be driving by, so don’t make this mistake.
If you move into a new home, get the locks changed immediately, because you have no idea who has a key to your house.
Other expert recommended ideas: Install electronic locks, drill and saw-resistant deadbolt locks, security doors, window guards and gates specifically built to provide extra protection to make your home harder to breach. If the job is too difficult, thieves will often move on to easier pickings.
8. Secure the Scenery—
Unkempt landscaping makes it look like people aren’t home, or don’t care about their house, which might lead a criminal to think the homeowner is lax in other areas… like security.
Keep all trees and shrubs trimmed to eliminate unsavory characters from lurking on your property unnoticed, paying special attention to areas around windows.
Using rose bushes, holly and other varieties of plants with thorns can also be a great way to safeguard your vulnerable perimeter areas.
9. Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth—
If you buy high-dollar items worth stealing, such as electronics or other easily-pawned-for-cash purchases, cut up the product boxes and hide them in opaque (dark) garbage bags. If thieves know exactly what’s waiting inside a home, they may try harder to get the goods.
Also: Don’t tempt criminals by leaving bicycles, lawn mowers, weed eaters, or anything else someone might want to take lying around. Keep windows covered and garage doors closed and locked, as well.
If you are the unfortunate victim of a break-in and first on the scene, remember to call police immediately, wait in your car, and don’t enter the house to assess the damage until law enforcement arrives. If the thieves are still inside, you don’t want to be the one to find them, and by walking around in your home post-robbery, you may destroy evidence that might have led to a conviction.
It’s unsettling to think about, but peace of mind can be yours by using the helpful tips listed above to make sure your family, home and belongings stay protected, safe and secure.