Home burglaries and break-ins are common, far more than you may think. Though property crime has come down in the United States in recent years, a report released by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the FBI says that 1,121,416 residences in the country were burglarized in 2014
Fortunately, home burglaries are much easier to prevent if you follow a few simple safety rules and guidelines.
Never advertise that you are not at home
If you are on good terms with your neighbors, ask them to pick up your newspapers/mail and mow your lawn or clear the snow while you are away on an extended trip. Piles of newspapers in the driveway and an overgrown lawn are noticeable, even to passersby.
Don’t leave empty garbage cans on the curb for days to tip off burglars that no one is home
. Thieves have even been known to leave flyers on the door and check if they have been removed.
Also, never discuss your travel plans when you are out in a public place in front of anyone who could possibly obtain your address. You can never be too careful.
Beware of what you share online
You are thrilled that you are finally getting the chance to go on your long-overdue vacation to the Caribbean islands and post a Facebook status message to share your excitement with everyone you know. All those likes and comments add up to a nice adrenaline rush right before the trip, but you should realize that you are letting everyone on the internet know that you will be gone for an extended period of time, leaving your home susceptible to theft.
Of course, we are not saying that you have to keep your vacation a top secret. You can definitely share your cool cocktail-sipping-on-the-beach photos with your Facebook and Twitter friends—but refrain until after
you are back from the trip. “Checking-in” at the airport or the hotel where you are staying on your trip? Another big no-no.
Also, if you are trying to sell furniture or any other product online, remember not to include any personal information in your ad. If you are posting photos, take care that you show only the item that is for sale. Do not display photos that show your family members or your house number. CNN has a great article on how you can protect yourself while buying and selling stuff online
. Don’t forget to take a look.
Secure your home properly
Sliding doors, especially older ones, are a security risk if you have not taken sufficient precautions. Burglars can easily pop them out of the frames, even when locked. Insert a strong dowel or metal bar into the groove before you leave. This will stop the door from sliding back and opening. Of course, this can’t stop burglars from breaking the glass and entering so adding impact-resistant films on your windows and glass doors can be an added security measure. And certainly don’t make it easier for burglars to break into your home by leaving tools and ladders lying around.
Don’t provide good hiding spots
Thick shrubs near the windows and overgrown hedges might give you privacy from nosy neighbors, but they also provide convenient spots for burglars to spy on you and learn your habits and the layout of the house. Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed that there is no room for a person to duck or hide out of sight. If you must have shrubs as part of your landscaping, opt for thorny plants like roses. Tall tree branches that extend all the way to the windows on the upper story should be cut down. And never leave expensive gadgets, laptops, cell phones or other valuables near windows.
Use technology to help you take care of your home
A smart home automation system makes your life more comfortable, but also provides the security you need, deters potential burglars and helps you monitor and check in on your home remotely—from anywhere you are. From smart locks that keep track of the comings and goings in your home, motion detectors that can trigger notifications to your phone or smart watch, surveillance cameras that you can check in on while away, and alerts that can be sent to you if your garage door was left open by mistake, Control4 home automation solutions offer everything that you need to make your home a safe haven for you and your family.
What’s more, Control4’s Mockupancy solution
can also help create an impression that someone is at home even while you are on vacation by switching on lights, shades and televisions at random.
Be careful with your trash
Do you know that your trash can affect your personal and/or home security? Criminals can use the personal info on your credit card or bank statements to steal your identity.
Protect your family and home from potential thieves by being extremely careful about what you throw in the trash. Any paper that contains personal information should be shredded before it goes in the trash can or recycle bin. Even seemingly innocuous documents like utility or cable/internet bills that contain your name and account number can give burglars enough information needed to pose as company representatives to gain entry into your house.
Your holiday trash, with boxes of the latest electronic gadgets or TV you bought for Christmas, is another great treasure trove for would-be burglars who keep a special lookout for items to steal. Make sure you break down the boxes and keep them at the bottom of the trash can instead of just leaving them outside your house, waiting to be picked up on garbage day.
Invitations to parties and holiday air tickets allow burglars to plan their break-ins at a time when the house is empty. Make sure you do not throw such papers in the trash without a second glance.
About the author: Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he's not out shredding waves he writes about homes for househunter.co.
To find out how a home automation system can give you added peace of mind and enhanced security, check out the Safety & Security Solution by Control4.