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Make Your Home a Harder Target For Burglars

According to the FBI, in 2012 there were an estimated 2,103,787 burglaries; of these, the total number of residential burglaries was a whopping 1,567,058. That translates into one home burglarized every 20 seconds!

Approximately 60% of burglars used forcible entry to gain access to a home. More than 30% of burglars entered residences through an unlocked door, window and other opening without force. Typically, burglars spend less than 60 seconds breaking into a home. The more difficult it is to break in, the more likely a burglar will look for easier pickings down the street.

Facts you should know:

  • 65% residential burglaries happen between 6am and 6 pm – when people are usually at work
  • Burglaries accounted for approximately $4.8 billion in lost property in the United States in 2011 (FBI Uniform Crime Reports)
  • Almost 2.2 million burglaries occurred in 2012; average loss per burglary – $2,185
  • 34% of burglars enter through the front door
  • Master bedroom is the first room targeted

Do you live in one of the top 10 U.S. cities on the FBI’s 2011 Uniform Crime Report most burglarized list? Check them out:

  1. Houston, TX
  2. Chicago, IL
  3. Dallas, TX
  4. Phoenix, AZ
  5. New York, NY
  6. Los Angeles, CA
  7. Detroit, MI
  8. San Antonio, TX
  9. Columbus, OH
  10. Indianapolis, IN

Yes, crime is rampant and thieves are working hard to rip you off. So, what steps can you take to put the odds in your favor of not becoming the latest statistic?

Here’s a checklist that will make you a harder (and less desirable) target:

Secure Your Castle Doors
•    Always lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.
•    Every external door should be secured with a sturdy, well-installed deadbolt lock with a minimum of 1 1/2″ throw.
•    All doors should be metal or solid, 1 3/4″ hardwood. They should fit tightly in their frames and the hinge pins should be on the inside.
•    If you have just moved into a new residence, have the locks changed.
•    Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
•    Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is at the door without opening it.
•    Keep the garage door closed and locked even when home.
•    Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available locks. In addition, wedge a dowel or stick in the track to keep anyone from prying the door open.

•    Put lights and a radio on timers to create the illusion someone is home. Leave shades, blinds and curtains in normal positions.
•    Secure double-hung windows using key locks or by sliding a bold or nail drilled at a downward angle in the top corners of the inside sash and partway through the outside sash. The hole should be large enough so the nail or screw slides out freely in case of an emergency.
•    Don’t install bars on the windows. Adding bars to windows makes it very difficult to get out in case of a fire.

•    Keep your yard well maintained. Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time. Store ladders and tools in a locked area when not using them.
•    Keep gate entrances padlocked. The best padlocks to use are case-hardened steel with at least a 9/32″ shackle. The hasp should also be made of hardened steel, mounted with the heaviest bolts and screws.
•    Have adequate exterior lighting. Use a motion-sensor light for backyards.

•    Don’t hide keys in mailboxes, planters or under doormats. Burglars look in these hiding places. If you have a trusted neighbor, give them a key.
•    Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers to build up while you are away. Make arrangements with the Post Office to hold your mail, or have a friend or neighbor regularly pick them up.

Other Household Tips
•    If you’ve just bought a new stereo or television, breakdown the box and place it in the garbage bin – don’t leave it sitting on the curb where everyone can see what your newest toy is.
•    Put yourself in a burglar’s shoes and walk around the outside of your house to see how visible expensive items are with the curtains open.
•    Homes without a home-security/alarm system have a significantly higher break-in rate, so invest in an alarm system to protect your home.
•    Get to know your neighbors. They can keep an eye on your house when you are away. And start a neighborhood watch group with your local law enforcement agency.
•    Maintain an inventory of all valuables, including serial numbers. Take photos or videos of them – handy for reporting claims to your insurance broker

And last, but not least, make sure you’ve got good homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to recoup your losses, if despite your best efforts, you do fall victim to these opportunists.

Have you been a burglary victim? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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