Burglars are clever. Take “distraction burglars” for example. They pose as police or utility workers to get into homes, either to case the joint or to steal things while the owners are in another room. Then there are “new home burglars” who steal new appliances from vacant homes before the new tenants move in. Some of the most morally corrupt burglars are called “funeral burglars.” They read obituaries to rob homes while loved ones are at the funeral.
These “clever” burglars aren’t the majority. According to the Burglary Prevention Council, 70% of burglars are amateurs. They break in on impulse and steal low-risk items, such as petty cash boxes and jewelry. Another 28% are semi-professional. They’ll observe a home, watch daily routines, or wait until you’re away on a trip before striking. They usually plan their crimes about a week in advance. Then there are the 2% who are pros. They carefully plan, and focus on high-end homes. So, how can you keep from becoming a target? Here are some tips, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.
- Evaluate your landscaping. Is your lovely flowering dogwood a good hiding spot for someone trying to jimmy open a ground-level window? Lauren Russ is executive director of the Burglary Prevention Council – the BPC - and she says prune back shrubbery from windows, doors and walkways. Also, evaluate the “climb-ability” of tall trees near second floor windows. Prune these so burglars can’t use them like ladders.
- Install – and USE – reliable locks. In about 32% of home burglaries, there’s no sign of forced entry. Meaning the burglar got in through an unlocked door or window. The BPC says it takes most burglars less than 60 seconds to get inside, and they typically enter through the front door. So have a certified locksmith install high-quality deadbolts – and USE them.
- Fortify your doors. Exterior doors should be solid wood, fiberglass or steel – and the hinges should be on the inside. If they aren’t, you can secure exterior hinges with a locking pin, which makes them difficult to remove.