Burglary Protection Tips

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Does the type of home I live in affect my security needs?

Change Locks After Moving into an Apartment

Homeowners need to focus on the first floor for burglary prevention. This is the usual entry point for burglars. Here are some steps to take to ensure the safety starts on the first floor:

  • Add deadbolt locks if you do not already have them.
  • Trim trees that can provide easy access to second-floor windows. Thieves will want access to the master bedroom, since jewelry, cash and credit cards are usually kept there.
  • Check basement windows and doors to make sure they are secured.
  • Cover basement windows with decorative glass film or coatings. Low, thorny shrubbery outdoors is another deterrent.
Thieves may bypass homes located on corners, since they have more traffic. If your home is in the middle of a block, make sure you have outdoor lighting, including motion detector lights that go on when someone walks by.

In apartments, renters should change their locks immediately after moving into a unit. The previous tenant may have a copy of the key. But first check your lease and talk with your building manager or landlord. It could be the locks already were changed.

Townhouses can be easy targets, because they often have privacy fences and secluded gardens. These are perfect spots for burglars to enter undetected. Consider adding door and window sensors to these areas.

If you live in a rural area or quiet block, consider asking police for extra patrols or forming a neighborhood watch group. These areas may get less attention by authorities otherwise.

How can I secure windows from break-ins?

Try Burglar-Proof Glass to Secure Windows

First-floor windows can be vulnerable to break-in. It takes only a few seconds for a burglar to slit a screen and crawl through a window, or break the glass to get in. There are ways to secure windows and keep intruders out:

  • Add an alarm system that has sensors you can place on windows. If a ground floor window is opened, a siren will go off.
  • Replace glass panes with burglar-proof glass that cannot be broken easily.
  • Install a window with many small panes instead of a single large one that could allow a person to enter if pried open or broken.
  • Drip solder on the screws of window locks, which will prevent a burglar from removing them.

What are steps I can take to deter burglaries?

Don't Make it Obvious That Your House is Unoccupied

The note you leave at your front door for a delivery person or housekeeper is a sure sign that no one is home. Watch your own behavior to make sure you do not "advertise" that your house is unoccupied, or that you live alone.

Check out this quick burglary prevention list for staying safe:

  • Don't leave repairmen and contractors alone in your house. They easily could pilfer items and you might not discover the theft until months later.
  • Don't let casual acquaintances know when you will be away on vacation. This may be a landscaper or delivery person you see every month, but know little about.
  • Be suspicious of people going door to door. They may be trying to get a quick look inside your home.
  • Don't volunteer information about yourself to people you barely know. If a service technician or delivery person asks about your schedule, don't feel compelled to provide it.
  • Elderly people and single women may be perceived as vulnerable by burglars. Don't make it known to strangers that you live alone.
  • Discuss home security with children. Don't try to scare them, but explain the need to keep doors locked and not to let strangers inside the home, even if they seem friendly or ask for help.

What is the benefit of a monitored burglar alarm?

Monitored Alarm Systems Summon Help When Needed

When you shop for home security, consider a monitored system. Without monitoring, the burglar alarm simply sounds inside your house to scare off intruders and alert occupants to a problem.

Worse, false alarms can irritate neighbors, especially when no one is home to disarm the system. Some municipalities fine residents whose home and car alarms misfire frequently.

Just like Chicken Little, who warned once too often that the sky was falling, an unmonitored alarm is less likely to protect your property when you need it.

The solution is monitored home security, which protects your home round-the-clock.

Here's how it works:

  1. Your security system is linked to the monitoring facility by your telephone line or Internet connection.
  2. When security is breached, the monitoring facility is signaled.
  3. The monitoring service will attempt to verify an emergency.
  4. You and others on your emergency list are immediately contacted. Local authorities are summoned if necessary.

How do I know if my home is vulnerable to burglary?

Burglars Target Homes with Easy Access

Know the mind of your enemy. The adage sounds more like advice for the battlefield than for burglary prevention. But knowing the common motives and goals of burglars will help you devise a home security plan that keeps you and your family safe.

The Burglary Prevention Council reports that burglars fall into three categories: professional, semi-professional and amateur. Most burglaries are committed by amateurs, while professional burglars may be part of organized crime groups that target high-end items -- such as antique paintings or jewels.

Here are some tips for protecting your home and property from common burglaries:

  • Consider installing a burglar alarm, whether it's a simple device with a siren or a monitored system. Amateur burglars seek quick and easy targets. They will not try to break into homes if they think they will be caught. Amateurs look for opportunity -- an open window or a door that is ajar.
  • Semi-professional burglars case houses. They may drive back and forth for a week, or bicycle through a neighborhood to pick the "right" house -- a property that seems vulnerable to break-in or forced entry.
  • Burglars don't waste time. Thefts occur in a matter of minutes, so lock your doors and arm your security system, even if you are leaving the house to drive your child to school or run a quick errand.

How can I help police find and identify my stolen valuables?

Make Valuables Easy to Identify in Case of Theft

Summers are usually the hottest time for home burglaries. People use screen doors instead of solid wood or metal doors. Homeowners leave windows open and bikes are left in driveways.

Burglars tend to steal items they can quickly grab and carry, such as electronics, laptops, CDs, DVDs, jewelry, cash, credit cards and checkbooks. Some will ride off on your bicycle. Here are some tips to protecting your valuables:

  • Make your valuables easy to identify in case of theft, so that you can verify ownership with authorities.
  • Mark your initials on CDs and DVDs. Engrave your driver's license number on other valuables.
  • Inventory the valuables in your home. Take photos of them. Make two copies of your list and duplicate photos. Keep one set at home, and the other at your office or in a safe depost box.
  • Consider installing a monitored home security system that will provide immediate response if someone enters your house through a door or window.
  • Get renter's insurance to cover your valuables, if you live in an apartment. Homeowners need to make sure they have ample coverage for their valuables.
  • Keep tools, bicycles, lawn mowers, even grills inside a locked garage or shed.

Won't my pet's movements trigger the burglar alarm?

Perimeter Alarms Work Better for Homes With Pets

Most people have pets for pleasure, not security. But adding a burglar alarm for protection can be vexing, because Fido or Garfield may trigger the motion detectors. Your alarm will activate as if there is a burglar, when actually your pet just walked across the room.

Consider a home security system that protects the perimeter of your home. A perimeter alarm system protects the most vulnerable area of your home: the ground floor. With a perimeter alarm, you place sensors at all doors and windows that can be accessed from outside. But you do not use motion detectors inside the home. Perimeter alarms will sound a siren the moment burglars try to enter your home.

Your other choice is to set your home's motion detectors to ignore objects that are the size and weight of your pet. No matter whether you own a shiatsu or sheepdog, you can program your motion detectors to recognize your pet and not sound an alarm. Some detectors come with a pet immunity system that is automatically programmed to ignore small and medium-sized pets.

What steps can I take to protect my home from burglars?

Take Steps to Burlgar-Proof Your Home

Don't make your home an easy mark for burglars. Take simple steps to keep your home secure:

  • Keep doors locked. Whether you are home or leaving the house to run a quick errand, it's a good practice to keep doors locked.
  • Walk around your house, and go room to room to look for easy ways for intruders to gain entry. Opportunity and access can make your home a target.
  • Buy timers that automatically switch lamps and radios on and off when you're not at home. Install a motion detector light over your garage, and at entryways. At night, the lights will go on when you arrive home, or if someone walks up to your house.
  • When you move into a new home, have the locks changed immediately. Get a deadbolt lock system. Your installer will provide a lock system for all doors that use the same key.
  • Avoid giving copies of your house keys to service providers, such as housekeepers or dog walkers.
  • Trim overgrown trees and shrubs around your house that may shield an intruder from view.
  • It's never a good idea to allow a stranger into your home, whether the person is asking you to sign a petition or offering to trim your trees. The person may be trying to "case" your home and return later to steal valuables.
  • If you are going on vacation, make sure you stop newspaper and mail delivery, or ask a trusted neighbor to collect the items, so they do not pile up at your house.

What should I do if there is a break-in while I'm home?

Do Not Try to Protect Valuables if You Encounter a Burglar

You need a home security plan to stop burglaries. You also need to know how to respond if someone breaks into your home while you're there, or if you encounter a burglar in your house. Here are some tips from the Burglary Prevention Council in the event you are near a burglary when it happens:

  • Do not to enter your home if you think an intruder is inside. Run to a neighbor's house and call police for help. If an intruder enters when you are home, try to get out.
  • If you cannot leave your home, do not try to challenge the intruder or protect your valuables. Do not try to be a hero or chase an intruder who has fled your home.
  • If you have a home security system, press the panic button. The panic button is for emergency situations like this. The authorities will be contacted immediately.
  • Don't try to put your house back in order after the intruder leaves. Call the police if they have not been summoned. Police will interview you and collect evidence. Provide for them a written inventory of your valuables. Try to identify items that were stolen.

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