With vacation season coming up, now is the time to take steps to theft-proof your home. You aren’t the only one looking forward to your getaway: burglars rely on people not bothering to address the things that make their house a target for thieves.
Rather than returning from your getaway to find your belongings are gone for good, take these steps to protect your home so you can leave your worries behind when you go.
10 Steps to Theft-Proof Your Home
1. Secure Sliding Patio Doors
Patio doors are an easy point of entry for most burglars since their locks tend to be flimsy. There are two easy ways to beef up your sliding doors.
- Install a lock behind the sliding door that prevents it from being forced open. Alternatively, you can cut a broomstick to fit in the door track.
- Get a glass-break detector alarm to scare off burglars who try to simply smash through the door.
2. Meet in Public for Craigslist
Selling your old stuff is a great way to raise vacation funds, but it’s crazy to have complete strangers come to your home, much less invite them in. If you’re selling stuff on Craigslist, in a classified ad, or through a local swap and shop page on Facebook, make a point to meet in a public location.
Many of the country’s police departments offer ‘safe lots’ for such sales. Other good locations include Walmart or grocery store parking lots during daylight hours. The busier and more public the location, the safer you are.
3. Get a Better Lock
Single cylinder deadbolt locks — the kind with the knob you twist — do very little to actually protect your home. Beef it up by replacing the strike plate with a reinforced one using long screws.
And, whatever lock you install, use it. It’s ridiculous how many people don’t lock their doors when they’re home or running a quick errand.
4. Say No to Strangers.
Burglars often find out if anyone’s home by posing as sales- or delivery people and ringing the doorbell. Sometimes, they even work legitimately as door-to-door salespeople but scope out the content of homes during their sales pitch. Once they’ve identified homes with stuff they can easily grab they’ll rob the place.
Keep this from happening by hanging a “No Soliciting” sign on your door and installing a peephole. If the doorbell rings, you’ll be able to see if it’s someone you’re expecting. If it’s a stranger, you know they’re determined to ignore your sign — an indication they’re up to no good.
5. Don’t Show Off
If a burglar has to choose between a home with obvious stuff to steal and one that’s iffy, they’re going to go for the easy target. Theirs is not a profession known for its work ethic, after all.
- Make sure your valuables aren’t visible through open curtains.
- Keep big-screen TVs, stereo equipment, and computers out of sight from the windows.
- Throw away boxes and packaging from pricey items at a public waste facility, rather than setting them out on your curb.
And don’t leave your curtains open when you’re not home — it might look pretty, but why impress a would-be burglar?
6. Update Social Media Later
Sharing beach vacation photos when all of your friends and coworkers are stuck at home is fun. But you can’t stop people from resharing those photos, which also shares the fact that you’re out of town. It’s not hard to figure out that someone checking into a beach bar in Honolulu isn’t at their home in Hartford.
So wait until you’re home to upload those photos and brag — you can even retroactively check-in to places you visited if you want to memorialize it.
7. Keep Landscaping Tidy
Keep hedges trimmed so your front door and windows are visible from the street. But don’t rip them out altogether: prickly shrubs planted beneath windows make them less attractive entry points to your home.
While you’re on vacation, have a trusted neighbor mow (and maybe water) your lawn, too. Tall grass and a parched lawn are signs that someone’s not around to take care of them.
Going on vacation in the winter? Ask a neighbor to shovel your driveway and walk while you’re away.
8. Install Motion Detector Lights
Whether to leave outdoor lights on at night is a matter of debate among homeowners. Those in favor say that a well-lit exterior deters burglars. Others claim that bright outdoor lighting lets them see what they’re doing.
Motion-activated lights are a fantastic compromise that shores up hoe safety. A light that comes on suddenly startles would-be burglars and catches the attention of neighbors, too.
9. Add an Alarm System.
Most burglars will skip homes with alarm systems because the risk of being caught is higher. So, even if you don’t have an alarm system, a sign or sticker claiming that you do may a deterrent.
If you do have a system, make sure the keypad isn’t visible from a window where a potential intruder can see whether the system is armed.
10. Get to Know the Neighbors
Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold, and not just because you can borrow a cup of sugar. They have an interest in keeping the neighborhood safe, too.
So, even if you don’t want to spend every Saturday night hanging out with the folks next door, at least exchange phone numbers.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Granted, when your home is burglarized it’s only “stuff” they’re getting, but the effect goes far beyond the material goods they steal.
It’s hard to feel safe in a home once it’s been broken into, and not without reason. You’re at increased risk for another burglary since criminals know you’ll buy new things to replace what they took.
Also, your homeowner’s insurance rate may go up if the company decides you don’t have adequate security to theft-proof your home against future break-ins. That will leave you feeling ripped off twice.