What to Do If There's Been a Burglary in Your Neighborhood
1. Familiarize Yourself With Home Burglary Statistics
Understanding home burglary statistics — especially those pertaining to your own community — can help you develop a home security action plan. For example, are homes in your area being burgled at night or in broad daylight? What kinds of items have been stolen? Are people reporting an increase in other crimes such as robbery or assault, too?
For example, data from the FBI’s 2018 crime report indicates that most burglaries in the U.S. occurred during the day and that many homes were entered via an unlocked door. Residents in southern states were also more likely to experience burglary, but burglary has been steadily decreasing across the U.S. for over 10 years.
Many local police departments also publish crime statistics and crime maps. This can help you understand whether the recent burglary in your neighborhood is an isolated incident or part of a growing trend.
2. Upgrade Your Home Security
Home security systems can deter burglars and possibly help authorities identify them. Consider installing an alarm system that goes off whenever a door or window is opened. Of course, you’ll need to remember to activate the alarm before you leave, or else it won’t do much good.
Surveillance cameras can prove invaluable in deterring criminals, especially when they are prominently placed outside and include features such as a motion-sensing light or alarm and two-way audio. Reviewing outdoor camera footage can also clue you in to suspicious activity around your home, which could indicate someone is gathering information about when and how to break in.
Placing indoor cameras near some of your most valuable items, such as your TV, can also help identify thieves who enter your home and possibly assist in recovering your stolen items. When these cameras feature two-way audio, you — or your professional monitoring company — can also spook the burglars into leaving.
3. Don't Be an Easy Target
For the most part, burglars look for homes that represent easy targets. They don’t want to cause a scene and attract attention, so they want to break into houses when no one’s home. Your home becomes an incredibly easy target if you don’t try to hide the fact that you’re on vacation. Ask a neighbor to hold onto your newspapers and mail, put lights on a timer to give the impression you’re home, and consider hiring a house sitter to maintain normal activity around the home (such as opening and closing curtains and keeping a vehicle in the driveway).
Even something as simple as keeping your lawn mowed helps tell burglars that you’re not on vacation. Try not to keep your valuables — like a huge flat-screen TV — in front of a window where the whole neighborhood can see it. Finally, don’t leave your garage door open, your doors unlocked or your windows open, especially if you aren’t home.
4. Reinforce Locks Around Your Home
If a burglar does decide to try to break into your home, they usually want to do it quickly, before they’re spotted. If it takes too long for them to successfully enter your home, they might leave. That’s why it’s important to have strong locks on all the exterior doors in your home that won’t give way easily.
Deadbolts are a must, but if they sink into a wooden door frame, they’re still far too weak to prevent the door from being forced open. Make sure there’s a metal strike plate around the deadbolt when it’s engaged. You’ll know you’ve purchased one of the strongest door locks on the market if it’s classified as “Grade 1.”
Be sure to avoid hiding spare keys in obvious places, such as in a planter, under the rug or on top of the door frame. Consider a keypad lock or smart door lock to help you gain access to your home in a pinch without any spare key required.
5. Help Your Neighbors Foster Better Security Habits Too
It’s important to work with your neighbors to cut down on burglaries in your neighborhood. Let them know you’re available to collect their mail or newspapers if they go out of town. If they have overgrown shrubs that could make it easy for burglars to break in without being seen, talk to them about your concerns. Help elderly neighbors install stronger locks or change porch light bulbs to keep the neighborhood well lit at night.
If your neighborhood is structured like a small city with a governing body — or if you have a Homeowner’s Association — you might consider hiring a patrol officer to cruise the neighborhood. Knowing that law enforcement may be just around the corner could represent a significant deterrent for some would-be burglars. Working with your local sheriff’s office to set up a Neighborhood Watch program is another great way to get involved with neighborhood health and safety.
Try not to panic when you learn there’s been a burglary in your neighborhood. Unlike robbery, which is inherently violent, burglary is typically a crime of stealth. Burglars don’t want you to be home when they enter the house and steal your valuables, because they don’t want a confrontation. Still, it’s never fun to have your things stolen or your sense of security shaken. You can prevent your home from being targeted by making it clear that you’re home, reinforcing door locks, installing a home security system and teaming up with your neighbors.