More than two million burglaries are reported in the United States each year according to the FBI, including 3,222 in Richmond County last year. Nationwide, victims lost an estimated $4.6 billion worth of property. Nine out of ten of these crimes are preventable.
The risk of being burglarized can be greatly reduced by taking simple steps to make your home more difficult to enter and less enticing to would-be burglars. Remember the greatest weapons in the fight to prevent burglaries are light, time and noise.
- Discourage burglars by making sure your home is brightly lit at night.
- Make sure exterior lights are mounted out of reach, so burglars can't easily unscrew bulbs.
- Consider buying motion-sensitive lights, which are now available at relatively low prices.
- Use a variable light timer to activate lights inside your home.
- Trim trees and shrubs near doors and windows so burglars can't hide in the shadows
- Make it time-consuming for a burglar to break into your home:
- Installing deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
- Installing double key locks in doors which contain glass. This will keep a burglar from being able to open the door simply by breaking the glass and reaching through. (Note: so that everyone in the house can get out in the event of a fire, be sure to keep the key in designated place).
- Placing additional locks on all windows and patio doors.
- Take steps to create noise. Draw attention to your home in the event of an attempted breakin.
- Install an alarm system with loud sirens inside and outside your home
- Get a dog. You don't need a large attack dog; even a small dog creates a disturbance that burglars would prefer to avoid. Remember to License and Vaccinate it.
- Consider having someone care for your dogs in your home while you're away, instead of boarding them.
Other tips to prevent break-ins:
- Think like a burglar. "Case" your home the way a burglar would and look for easy ways to enter your home.
- Be sure valuables such as guns, electronic devices and artwork are not visible from the street.
- Be sure to lock up ladders and tools which could be used to break into your home.
- Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
- Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked.
- Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
- Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.
- Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
- Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
- Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
- Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
- Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight
- Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
- Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
- Never leave notes on your door such as “Gone shopping.”
Locks…Get the Best:
- No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
- Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
- When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.
Targeting the Outside:
- Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
- Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
- Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
Most windows can be pinned for security. Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
- An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
- Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
- If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system. Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
- Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.
- Company burglary alarm signs and “Beware of Dog” signs can be a deterrent to a burglary.
- Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.
- When leaving on vacation, consider removing valuables from your house, such as guns jewelry & cash and store them in an alternate secure place.
- Treat and secure the entrance door from the garage to your house the same as an exterior entrance. A burglar in you garage can work on your house door undetected.
- Beware of leaving your garage door open even a few inches. It does not take much for a skinny youth to slip underneath.
- When leaving home for awhile, mechanically pin your garage door and/or disconnect your garage door opener.
- When placing trees, bushes and flowers, remember to keep doorways, windows and porches clear. Remember that the bushes that provide you with privacy also give a burglar a place to hide. Plan your landscaping with both privacy and security in mind.
- Trim existing shrubbery below window level and clear of entrances. Do not give burglars a place to hide. Trim trees up so there is clear view of your house by neighbors and the burglar will feel obvious.
- Do not leave extra car keys lying out in the house when you are away from the home. If your home is burglarized you do not want your car stolen, too.
- Install and use dead bolts in all exterior doors. Change out all striker plate screws for longer screws that are 2-3 inches long. Long screws will catch a wall stud and make it harder for the door to be kicked in.
- Take color photographs of jewelry, antiques and collectibles. A home video is a good record of your valuables too.
- If you arrive at home and your door is open or things appear out of place, don’t go in. Leave and call 911. Confronting or trapping a burglar in your home is a dangerous position to be in.
Compiled from information provided by the FBI and various law enforcement agency websites