Simply put, good habits go a long way. Statistics on home break-ins indicate that many burglars are just looking for easy targets: Most burglaries happen during daylight hours (between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.) and they are typically completed within 8-10 minutes. 34% of burglars enter the front door; another 23% enter through a first-floor window. The takeaways here? Thieves are looking for easy-access property in houses that are likely to be empty. Lock your doors and windows whenever they’re not in use, even when you’re at home.
If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your locks, conduct an inventory: Are any of the locks damaged? Could there be extra keys floating around with strangers? Are any of the exterior locks easy to pick, jimmy or bump open? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it could be time to rekey your locks or to replace them with more tamper-proof versions. To start, make sure all exterior doors have ANSI Grade 1 or Grade 2 deadbolts. Check out our guide to exterior door locks for more details.
What if your locks are rock solid but your doors, windows or hardware are weak and flimsy? A well-placed slam or kick could allow someone inside in seconds. Inspect all entry points, especially those on the first floor, and replace, repair or reinforce them as needed. Ideas:
- Consider replacing exterior doors that are thin, hollow-core, or broken. You can also add additional support with a door barricade or security bar.
- Door hardware – ensure that the strike plate (the metal piece on the door jamb where the lock’s bolt enters) is properly installed with screws that are at least ¾ inches long. This measure ensures that the bolt can’t easily be forced out of the door jamb. Alternatively, door reinforcement kits include strike plates and other hardware that can strengthen a door’s weak points.
- Sliding doors – add an
Use motion-sensing lights inside and outside
Turn regular lights into motion sensor lights by switching to Learn more about deterring burglars with light.
Hiding a key in a predictable place like under the mat or in a flowerpot near the door makes things much too easy for opportunistic burglars. Instead, give an extra key to a trusted neighbor, find revolving and unexpected hiding places, or better yet, pick up an inexpensive combination lockbox and install it in a concealed place. It doesn’t cost anything to be a little more careful.
Don’t be flashy with your expensive items. Outside, keep your tools, bikes and other easy-to-grab items locked up or safe in the garage when you’re not using them. Inside, use window treatments like curtains or blinds to stop passers-by from casing your home. Similarly, put away high-value items when you’re not using them. Don’t leave electronics, jewelry, cash or important personal documents in plain sight. Keep your most valuable goods and documents in a household safe.