Just like other crimes, a burglary can be a totally random event. However, when it’s planned, there are certain things a burglar will look for when staking out a possible break-in, and there are steps the homeowner can take to minimize this risk.
This is a good checklist before leaving your home empty or for beefing up your protection against theft:
Study your house from the street, and look for any valuables that may be visible from the street. Don’t give thieves a reason to show up.
Before leaving for any length of time, ensure that all windows and doors are locked, including the door to your garage. Many home invasion robberies come through garage doors and inner doors to the houses. Doors should have deadbolt locks with a one-inch throw and reinforced strike plate. Place a piece of wood or metal in the track of any sliding doors to prevent opening.
Don’t leave your house in darkness when you’re away, create a sense of activity by using timers on lights, radios and televisions. Install low-voltage lighting outdoors to keep your surrounding yard well lit. Install motion detectors in dark areas along the sides and back of house to alert you of any intruders.
Suspend your newspaper delivery while you’re away and ask your neighbor to collect your mail. You may even ask them to park in your driveway while you’re away. Never leave a message on your answering machine that says you’re on vacation.
Keep any shrubbery near your walkway or entrance trimmed; removing any possible hiding places. Think about planting cactus or rosebushes under windows that may be especially vulnerable. Advise your neighborhood watch that you’ll be away.
Ensure your security system is activated when you leave. Etch your name on all electronic equipment to serve as a deterrent as well as assisting police in the recovery your property. It’s more difficult to sell stolen property that has the owners name on it. Make a video tape of your possessions and record the serial numbers.
Get a safe, not just for your jewels, but for important paperwork as well. Identity theft is a crime that’s on the rise and you want to minimize any availability to your personal records.
The more you can do to deter an intruder, the better your chances are that your home will not be chosen as a target. Studies have shown that if it takes a burglar more than four or five minutes to break into a home, they’ll move on. If you increase their vulnerability by adding a well-lit area or a barking dog, that minimizes your risk again.