For homes, take note that daylight hours are a good time for burglaries because people are at work and school leaving homes unoccupied and vulnerable. Also, just because it’s horrible weather outside does not stop the criminal activity.
For businesses, use layers of protection: locks, lights, alarms, video surveillance, key control, safes, gates, fences, landscaping, access control, security patrol, security doors, window locks, inventory records, employee education.
Make your home look occupied.
- Use timers on lights to give the home a lived in look. Have lamps come on in the evening and off during the day, and test the timers before you go out of town. For businesses, a softly lit interior will make it easier for officers driving by to check for any unwanted, after-hours guests.
- Motion-sensitive lights at the front, side, driveway and backyard, are another great idea, and using dusk to dawn timers on exterior areas help police and others see what’s going on around the perimeter of your house and property.
- Be sure that exterior lights are mounted out of reach, so that burglars can’t easily unscrew bulbs.
- Leave a radio or TV on a at a conversational volume level.
- Have a neighbor watch your home while you are out of town, pick up your newspaper and mail, and accept packages. Or, arrange to have mail and deliveries stopped. Have your neighbor also remove door hangers and other advertisements that pile up on the front door.
- If you will be gone for an extended time, arrange to have your snow shoveled or your lawn mowed. Also, have a neighbor set out one of their trash cans as if it were yours, on pickup day.
- Are vehicles that are usually in the driveway not there, or vehicles in the driveway not being used for days on end? Have a neighbor occasionally park in the driveway.
- Trim the shrubbery around your home so that it does not offer a hiding place for burglars, and so an intruder’s accessibility to your home is not easily hidden. If windows are visible, it’s easier for neighbors or police to spot a broken window. Also consider “thorny” shrubs. If it’s painful to access a window over shrubs, that’s a deterrent. Don’t have a fence block sightlines of doors and windows either.
Make it time-consuming for a burglar to break into your home or business.
- Lock ALL your doors and windows – even the small bathroom window that you think nobody could possibly fit through – and keep them locked as much as possible. That means when you go to bed, and even when you are home or leaving for a short time. Most homes have at least one window that the owner has forgotten to lock. Opening a door or window makes a lot less noise than breaking glass.
- When moving into a new home, have all the locks changed. Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
- Locks – get the best. Check the locks on doors and windows and get advice from a locksmith to be sure they are the most secure or replace them. Push button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open, and key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security. If a door contains glass, install double key locks. This will keep a burglar from being able to open the door simply by breaking the glass and reaching through. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors. They should have long bolts that terminate in a good solid core door frame so that breaking down a door is a chore. Sliding glass doors are vulnerable and need special locks. Even a wooden dowel or a track blocker will help prevent the door from opening.
- Chain locks are not recommended. They offer a false sense of security since they are mounted with short screws and have weak chains. Door wedges are a better alternative when you want to open your door only a few inches to speak to a stranger, and they work well for a woman or child who is home alone. These can be found in most hardware stores.
- Keep your garage door closed and locked, even when home. Also, if you have an attached garage – lock the door into the house. Keep your vehicles in the garage, and lock them also.
- Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
- Trigger noise to alert about the intrusion. Get a dog. You don’t need a large attack dog; even a small dog creates a disturbance that burglars would prefer to avoid.
- Consider having someone care for your dogs in your home while you’re away, instead of boarding them.
- Install an alarm system that will alert neighbors of a burglar’s presence, or better yet, have a monitored system that will notify police. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. Most insurance companies offer discounts for alarms, and some systems also monitor for fire.
Businesses need to use a motion detector to set off an alarm for the interior of the business. All employees need to be educated on the proper use, arming and disarming of the alarm system to prevent false alarms.
Deter thieves by letting them know you’re protected. Consider a video surveillance system for a business, but be sure to pick a high quality digital system. If possible, it is best to have the monitoring and recording equipment located off site. Many times, burglars will seek out this equipment and steal it as well, leaving no evidence to identify them. Post notices that you do not have the monitoring system on site. Choose a system that allows plenty of cameras, both inside and outside of the business. Check the equipment often to make sure that there is plenty of memory left, and replace the VHS tape often. Better yet, get a hosted video system that catches suspicious activity in real time and notifies police with a priority response (Verified burglar alarms are dispatched as a high priority call).
- Use alarm decals, beware of dog decals, and community watch decals near doors.
- Don’t tempt a thief!
Find GOOD hiding places in your home for high-ticket items, especially jewelry. Jewelry boxes make things quick and easy for the burglar. Don’t use the typical places like under mattresses, in drawers, in desks and file cabinets, etc.
- Be sure valuables such as guns, electronic devices, and artwork are not visible from the street.
- Secure guns in safes that are bolted to the floor or large enough that someone could not move without a lot of help.
- Lawn mowers, snow blowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.
- Be sure to lock up ladders and tools (hammers, saws, drills . . .), which could be used to break into your home or to use for future burglaries. Always lock your garden sheds.
- Limit the amount of cash kept in the home, and store it in a creative hiding place. Also, credit and debit cards, social security cards, passports and other ID information need to be considered.
- Use curtains or other covering on garage and basement windows.
- Don’t leave the box from your new 60” Smart LED HDTV prominently displayed on the curb, awaiting trash pickup.
- For businesses, leaving the cash register open, empty, and visible from outside removes the promise of “fast cash.” Valuables, including laptops, cell phones, etc., should not be left in plain sight. Strategically locate displays to hide the most valuable items.
Other precautions to take:
- Think like a burglar. “Case” your home or business to discover weak areas where you are vulnerable.
- Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places. Burglars know where to look for hidden keys. Use keyless entry systems to allow select people access, or a lock box. Home automation systems are excellent ways to confirm doors are locked and to see who and know when anyone enters.
- Use peep holes before you answer your door so you can know who’s there. Wide-angle peep holes are especially recommended as a viewing device because the person outside does not know that you see him/her. If the peep hole is covered, do not open the door.
- Get to know your neighbors. Agree to watch out for each other’s homes, and communicate when you are going to be gone for an extended period of time. Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. Invite police to your meetings. They can work with your group to improve security and reduce the risk of burglary.
- Use smoke alarms. Be sure to test them regularly and replace batteries when needed.
- Both homes and businesses should be extra careful of strangers coming to your door. Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering packages.
- Display your house number conspicuously and have it well illuminated. This will help police and emergency personnel find your home quickly.