Did you know there’s one successful burglary committed in the US every 30 seconds?
Although break-ins are gradually declining thanks to better security systems and home protection options, you can never be too careful. To protect your family and your valuables, you have to take actionable steps to make your home safe and secure.
How can you identify and correct potential access points in your home? And how can you ensure any burglary attempt on your home will end in a resounding “Access denied!” to the criminal?
Here are seven ways you can make your home more secure and safe today.
1. Improve Door Security
Can you name the most common way burglars break into homes? It’s not through the garage, a sliding door, or an unlocked window.
One in three criminals waltzes into a home straight through the front door.
Begin your home protection efforts by taking a close look at all exterior doors. Ideally, they should all be steel front or solid hardwood, as hollow lightweight doors are easy to kick in. If each door doesn’t already have one, install a deadbolt and a strike plate to reinforce each entryway.
Sliding doors are an easy access point as well. Old-fashioned window bars or a dowel in the track are still effective ways of keeping burglars out. For a more high-tech option, consider installing sensors that will alert you if someone tampers with the door or the glass.
2. Hide Your Valuables
You might equate a safe with a spy movie, but it’s not a bad idea to store your most valuable possessions. A small safe is enough to hold cash, jewelry, guns, passports, and other common targets
Of course, not all your valuables can be tucked away in a closet or a safe. How can you deter would-be-thieves from trying to steal that big screen TV? Install some 3M safety window film that makes it harder to see inside without obstructing your view looking out.
Think outside the box about where to hide items of value. If a thief does break in, they’ll make a beeline for the medicine cabinet, dresser drawers, and bedside table. Consider less-obvious locations to tuck important items away.
Expert tip: Try leaving a decoy “valuable item” in plain sight. This could include a worthless old computer or some expensive-looking costume jewelry. A burglar might snatch it and run before he ever finds anything of real value.
3. Don’t Overlook Your Windows
Windows are another easy access point, but there are steps you can take to result in “access denied” to would-be burglars.
Use some of the same tips for doors we mentioned earlier, like installing new locks or glass break sensors. Don’t rely on the manufacturer latches that came with your windows — they’re notoriously flimsy and easy to break.
Another easy way to protect your family? Plant some prickly bushes, shrubs, or succulents beneath every first-floor window. A thief will think twice before he goes traipsing through a cactus garden to access your home!
4. Use Real (Or Fake) Warning Signs
Even if you don’t have a guard dog, home security system, or high-tech sensors, you can still display signs to that effect. A burglar won’t know the difference and could be tempted to target another seemingly less secure home.
Hang a “beware of dog” sign on your fence or front porch for your real (or fake) watchdog. You could even go a step further and leave a dog bowl and leash on the back patio.
It’s also easy to fool burglars into thinking you’re home when you’re not. Set timers on your TV, lights, or radio to make the house look occupied when no one is home. Motion sensor lights around your yard, doors, and windows are another simple but powerful deterrent.
5. Secure Your Home’s WiFi
With all this talk of physical home protection, it’s easy to overlook another common target: cybercrime.
Your home internet is a gateway to your personal, financial, and other valuable information. If you use smart home devices, a criminal could easily hack in and gain access to your home.
Start by securing your wireless router and enabling WPA or WPA2 encryption. Rename and hide your home network so it’s undiscoverable by others. Use firewalls, antivirus software, and antimalware programs to keep your network secure.
6. Don’t Fall for a Door-to-Door Scam
Remember in the movie Home Alone when the burglars pose as cops making a friendly neighborhood visit? This doesn’t just happen in the movies.
Many criminals (often in pairs) will pose as salespeople, plumbers, electricians, or other “trustworthy” individuals. They’ll show up at your door to discuss their services while their true motive is casing out your home as a potential target.
In a variation of this scam, one person keeps you distracted with friendly conversation. Meanwhile, the other steals things right from under your nose.
Be very careful who you allow into your home, especially if they show up unsolicited. If you have kids, make sure to teach them never to allow strangers into the home (or even open the door to a stranger).
7. Don’t Advertise Your Vacation Status
We all get excited about vacations, and it’s tempting to post your itinerary on social media. To keep your home safe and secure, however, it’s best to wait until after you return before you share pictures or videos.
You might know and trust all your contacts on Facebook and Instagram, but what about friends of friends? Anyone who views your account and sees that you’re out of town could take advantage of that information. All they have to do is look up your address online and go over to your empty home!
What about deterring burglars who might be casing the neighborhood? If you’ll be away for more than a few days, ask a friend or neighbor to collect your mail and take out the trash bins so your house doesn’t appear empty.
Access Denied! Protect Your Family & Your Home
It’s a common catchphrase, but “access denied” needs to be more than that when it comes to home protection.
Most of the items we discussed above are low-cost, effective ways to protect your family. No matter where your home is located, you can take actionable steps to keep it safe and secure.
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