Our families and homes are two of our most prized possessions – these theft prevention tips will help keep them both safe this holiday season and throughout the year.
1. Burglar proof your landscape and lighting.
Intruders are looking for homes with limited visibility. Most of us grew up playing manhunt outside. Thick bushes in a dark location were always a winning place to be – nobody could see you and they were too afraid to look! Invest in motion lights for unlit areas not visible from the street. Keep hedges trimmed to about 3 feet tall and strategically place pain inducing plants with thorns and prickers below windows to deter would be intruders from hiding there. Some recommend neatly edging your home with decorative gravel to ensure any foot steps create an audible disturbance.
2. Find a house sitter or make it look like somebody is home.
Burglars target unoccupied homes. Ask a family member or hire a house sitter to take in the mail, newspaper, and packages. Don’t have someone to watch the house 24/7 for you? Use automatic timers on lights and radios. If nobody is available to collect your mail or newspaper be sure to suspend delivery of both – nothing advertises a vacant home more than a pile of newspapers on the front step and an overflowing mailbox. If you have someone willing to stay in your house overnight – fill the refrigerator with treats or leave a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Make your house sitter feel like they are on vacation too!
3. Don’t advertise your absence or your valuables and holiday gifts.
Everyone loves to check in on social media or tag their photos from special events. This type of stuff is harmless when viewed by your mother but can be an invitation for malicious followers and “friends” to break in to your home. Don’t provide real time vacation photos and departure announcements on any social media platform. Post your best pics after you’ve returned. If you love to place gifts beneath your Christmas tree – don’t allow them to be visible from windows or doors. If you love to place your tree in the front window – save the gift display until Christmas Eve after you’re home for the night. Did Santa bring you everything you wanted for Christmas? Don’t leave the empty box from your new wide screen TV or surround system on the curb for all to see. Be sure to break down your boxes into smaller squares that neatly fit into your recycling bin.
4. Lock your windows and doors!
It’s so simple that many of us forget to do it when we’re rushing out the door! Be sure that all windows and doors are locked throughout your home. If you have newer windows, always engage your auxiliary locks and secondary locks that prevent windows from opening completely. Inexpensive dowels wedged between the door and the frame are also handy for sliding glass doors and older windows without locks. Your welcome mat isn’t just there for your friends and family – most burglars break into homes using the front door! Installing a high quality dead bolt helps minimize the chances of a door break in – be sure to install deadbolts at least 40 inches away from breakable glass. This prevents burglars from smashing the glass and then reaching in through the door window to unlock the deadbolt.
5. Keep yard tools and ladders locked away.
Ladders are great for cleaning gutters and for burglars who like to climb into an unlocked second story window (see tip 4). Don’t keep your ladder stashed under the back deck or on the side of the house that nobody sees – keep them in a locked garage or shed. Shoveling snow is routine for New England homeowners – it’s not uncommon for us to keep snow shovels ready by the front door. Shovels, rakes, and rocks can be used to smash in locked windows and doors – don’t provide burglars with the very tools that could help pry their way into your home.
6. Consider an alarm system or home automation system.
There are alarm systems available for every budget – be sure to research what type will work best for you and your home. According to Consumer reports, 80% of homeowners are satisfied with the safety and effectiveness of their security systems. Whether you’re looking for a simple system that alerts you to an open door or window, want additional protection from fire and carbon monoxide, or remote access to lighting and thermostats – homeowners have a plethora of systems to choose from.
7. Invest in a fire proof safe.
What if someone breaks into your home? Homeowners should place all valuables into a fire proof safe that is securely fastened to the floor. Jewelry, firearms, cash, lap tops, important documents and any other valuables should be securely locked away. Should you have the unfortunate experience of a break in – a safe will be your last line of defense.
Implement these simple and helpful safe guards to enjoy a safer and more Care Free home!