You've put heart, soul, and a lot of bucks into turning your house into a home. The last thing you want is for someone to break in and rob you. Especially around Christmas, when an uptick in burglaries can ruin your holiday joy. A home intruder is scary to even think about, but spending a few minutes of time recognizing and fixing ways your home is vulnerable can pay off big down the road.
Here are nine ways you may be inadvertently making your home more attractive to thieves:
Rundown Front Door
Your front door is the first place burglars will look, and a dilapidated front door signals that your home is an easy target. A clean, painted front door gives the impression that the entire home is well-cared for and harder to breach.
Burglars look to see what kind of locks they'll have to navigate to enter, and when they see only the standard cylinder lock, they're more likely to have a go than if there's also a padlock visible. In short: doubling up on locks makes your door physically more difficult to break into and your home less appealing to burglars.
The discarded boxes and bags from all your big-ticket purchases are like advertisements to burglars of the valuables inside your home. Prevent thieves from getting as excited over your new flat screen TV box as you are with your new TV by keeping this type of garbage inside until trash pickup day.
Burglars don't like to risk being seen, so when you create a barrier of light around your home using motion sensor activated and basic exterior lights, you're creating a barrier around your home through which they're not likely to penetrate. Pay special attention to vulnerable areas like front and back doors and walkways.
When planted beneath windows, bushes and shrubs are not only pretty, but they're also an obstacle to climbing into windows. Burglars are especially deterred by the kind of greenery that has thorns or makes loud snapping noises. For trees reaching up to second-story windows, be sure to clean up lower branches so they can't function as a ladder.
Piles of mail are a sign that you're out of town and primed for a robbery. If you're going away for a while, use the USPS's Request Hold Mail service to stop delivery while you're gone. For shorter periods, a neighbor will likely be glad to pick up your deliveries.
You don't want burglars to get a peek at all the goodies you have inside your home, so shut the curtains, pull the shades, put a giant houseplant in front of a street-facing window — do whatever you have to do to keep unwanted eyes out. Be especially mindful at night when the dark sky and lit interior combine to create a fishbowl effect in your home.
Encountering the resident is way more than most burglars are bargaining for. If they think you're in the house, they're staying out of it, so make it look like someone's home by turning on a light or two and even leaving on a TV or radio to make some noise. For prolonged periods away, you can use electronic timers to turn them on and off automatically.
Nonexistent Alarm System
They take a bit of financial investment, but a quality alarm system is a huge burglar deterrent, and a necessary one if you live in a high-crime neighborhood. Do your research and pick a reputable alarm company — thieves know the bad and bogus alarm system signs — and consider high-tech options, such as alarms with a camera that allow you to monitor your home from anywhere.