Halloween is right around the corner, bearing with it the typical abundance of pumpkins, tacky yard-inflatables, and trick-or treaters. But buried in the heightened fright of the spookiest season lies a true threat — burglars. We don’t mean to be Debbie-downers, but crooks see the costumes and increased foot-traffic as a great distraction, and the faux-cemetery in your lawn as the perfect hiding spot. Luckily, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure your home is as formidable as ever, so you can take your mind off thieves and get back to worrying about how much candy you’ve eaten.
Burglars Look for These Signs
According to the FBI, a home is burglarized every 26 seconds in the U.S. But thieves don’t select their targets at random: they look for signs that your security is compromised. Here’s a list of tell-tale signs that a home is ripe for burglary.
Unkempt lawns: Burglars are always on the look-out for additional cover and signs that a home is sitting vacant. Typically, unkempt lawns indicate that you’ve been gone for an extended period, making it obvious that your home is unguarded. Overgrown hedges and tall grass also make for perfect cover, as thieves can easily duck out of sight or shield their presence as they break in. Though messy lawns are eye-sores for the whole neighborhood, nothing is more attractive to a thief.
Dark home: Darkened windows or doorways signal that you’re either asleep of away from home. Since most burglaries occur in 8-12 minutes, thieves have a very narrow window and thus look to strike when it’s the least likely they’ll be apprehended.
Negligence: Home burglaries are always higher during summer months since thieves know most families are away on vacation. As mentioned earlier, signs of negligence such as an unkept lawn are dead giveaways that you won’t be home any time soon. Overstuffed mailboxes or packages left sitting in a doorway also indicate that no one is checking on your house — making these items easy targets as well. Additionally, if a thief suspects that you’re away from home, they’ll likely look for a spare key before attempting more destructive break-in methods. If you’re also negligent in hiding your spare — hiding it in obvious spots, such as under a mat or in a flowerpot — breaking-in is made all the more easy.
Expensive items on display: After going through all the trouble of breaking in, no thief wants to leave empty-handed. As such, they choose to target homes they know have expensive items. Whether it be a flat-screen TV, china cabinet, or expensive jewelry, leaving your valuables near high-visibility areas . Leaving your curtains open for extended periods is dangerous as well, since thieves need only to peer inside to get a sneak-peek of their potential score.
Opened doors: This is perhaps the most obvious sign, but leaving a door or window open by mistake can serve to attack thieves that would otherwise leave your house undisturbed. Opened garages are targets as well, since it’s likely that the door inside the garage is less secure than your front door.
Take the Target Off Your Home
Security cameras: You may have a high-tech alarm system within your home (and, in our opinion, most homes should!) but nothing stops a thief in their tracks more than an outdoor security camera. Cameras not only record evidence and signal that your residence is under watchful surveillance, but also alert you to any potential disturbance.
Guard dog: This might seem a little barbarian, but having a loud, imposing dog that barks every time someone approaches your home actually helps deter thieves. According to a survey, 34% of convicted burglars stated that hearing or seeing a dog would turn them away from a home they were considering breaking into. But be warned — dogs require a lot of care, so buying one for security purposes alone is never a good idea. That being said, these watchful guards make for loving pets.
High visibility: Mow that grass and trim up those shrubs: a clean lawn means burglars have no place to hide, and indicate that someone’s been attending to your home. If you plan on being away for an extended vacation, it’s usually good to employ the help of a friend or neighbor in keeping your lawn clean and removing any packages that arrive while you’re away.
Lights with timers: To give the appearance of being home at all times, it’s best to leave a couple lights on. But you don’t need to worry about skyrocketing electric bills when securing your home: leaving the same lights on at all times can indicate absence too. In reality, it’s best to plug your lights into an automatic timer. These devices are cheap and can be purchased online — just be sure to set the timer to “random” so thieves can’t detect a pattern.
Close up, lock up: In the survey mentioned above, 56% of burglars said they entered a residence through the front or back doors, while another 22% said they entered through a first-story window. Based on this information, it’s best to make a habit of locking up behind you every time you go back inside, and to do a lock-check of every door and window before you leave home or go to bed. Along with this, you should be sure to hide valuables out of plain view, and close your blinds or curtains as well.
Locksmiths Know Security
If you’re still unsure of your home’s security level, Pop-A-Lock is here to help. With our residential security audit, we’ll check your home and property for potential blind spots, and advise you on how to beef-up your security measures. Check out our website for more handy tips and info about our services.