Nobody ever expects their house to be broken into, but it could happen to anyone.
In fact, burglaries are more common than you might think. According to the most recent available data from the FBI, over 1 million burglaries take place in the U.S. each year, causing victims to suffer an estimated total property loss of $3 billion, or $2,661 per burglary offense.
And it’s not just offices and business buildings. 62.8% of all burglary offenses target residential properties.
Fortunately, many of these incidents can be prevented with the right home security measures in place.
So whether you’re a homeowner who wants to protect his or her family or you own rental properties managed by a property manager, here are seven ways to protect your property and dramatically reduce the risk of a burglary:
1. Secure all doors
Doors are the most common entry points for burglars, so you should focus on securing them first.
It’s not just your front door. It’s any back, side, or garage doors. Homeowners often overlook these secondary doors to their detriment. By leaving them unlocked, you leave your home wide open to intruders. Garage doors are especially critical to lock since vehicle-related thefts are among the most common.
As you check all your doors, make sure the locks function properly. Install a deadbolt, at least on the front door, to add an extra layer of protection. For sliding doors, get a dowel. You may also want to consider installing a reinforcement plate or strike box for added security.
Whatever you do, make sure you lock your doors at night and anytime you leave the house. But even when you’re home, your doors should be locked by default.
2. Check the windows
After doors come windows. They’re the second most common access point for burglars, especially first-floor windows.
Inspect all your window locks to make sure they can’t be opened from the outside. For windows above the first floor, see if you can force them open when locked (since they’re harder to test from the outside).
If needed, replace any window lock hardware. Installing extra locks such as pin locks or keyed locks can add an extra obstacle to stop burglars as well.
You might also consider getting glass break detectors to alert you if someone ever breaks the glass in your windows.
When it comes to the window glass itself, explore replacing it with tempered glass (4X stronger than regular window glass), plexiglass (10X stronger), or polycarbonate (250X stronger). Of course, the stronger the material, the more expensive it will be.
3. Get an alarm security system
Home alarm systems are an increasingly affordable way to prevent burglaries. According to safewise.com, “The average cost for monitored home security is $31.65 per month. That works out to less than $400 per year to have someone else keep an eye on your home. The average burglary costs victims up to 550% more.”
There are many different alarm security systems to choose from. Consider various features, such as motion detection, the ability to monitor your home from your phone, storing system data for review, and a loud and high-pitch alert that will scare potential intruders.
Keep in mind that you can install some alarm systems on your own, while others require a professional installation.
4. Post warning signs
Warning signs are an easy way to deter burglars. If you have a security system, you can simply place decals of the system on windows or doors. That way, intruders will think twice before trying to break in.
Even if you don’t have security system decals at your disposal, you can still get warning signs, such as ones that say you have a watchdog (even if you don’t really have one).
Most intruders are opportunists, which means they try to target homes they think will be easy targets. If your home looks like it will be difficult to steal from because it has warning signs, burglars are more likely to move on.
5. Install security cameras
Another way to boost your home security is to install security cameras, aka closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. These not only help you detect break-ins, but they serve as a deterrent. Why? Because burglars don’t want to get caught on camera and risk the recording being used as evidence against them in court.
Some security camera systems automatically store video footage for you so you can look through it later to check suspicious behavior at a specific time. Some let you stream live security footage to your phone so you’re always a few taps away from monitoring what’s going on at your house.
When choosing security cameras, aim for those that have high resolution, so that law enforcement can more easily identify criminals with them. And if possible, get a video doorbell so you can see who’s at your door before you open it.
6. Light up the outside of your home
Keeping the exterior of your home lit is another easy way to help prevent break-ins. It serves as a deterrent in two ways: First, it gives the impression that someone is home even when no one is. Secondly, it makes it harder for burglars to find cover to hide in.
When choosing where to position outdoor lights, target common access points such as doors and windows as well as garages and porches.
You may also consider installing lighting that automatically turns on when it gets dark or when it senses motion (aka motion-activated lights). That way, you don’t have to worry about turning the outdoor lights on manually.
The point is to never let your property look like no one’s there, which could incentivize burglars to target it (for the same reason, you should never publicly announce when you’ll be away).
7. Eliminate cover and put away any tools
Lastly, bushes and trees can provide convenient cover for burglars. So try to keep them well-trimmed to limit potential hiding places for burglars.
Also, never leave out any tools that burglars could use to break in. For example, a ladder could be used to climb to an open second-story window, and a hammer could be used to break a window. Stay on the safe side and always keep these items put away.
If you follow these tips, your property will be at a much lower risk of being broken into and you can gain peace of mind.