Your home is meant to be a place of security and safety. The United States leads the world in occurrence of burglaries, with one occurring approximately every 15 seconds. While a break-in can be financially devastating, it is also emotionally taxing. Regardless of the safety of your neighborhood, a false sense of security can leave homeowners vulnerable to a burglary. Here are several steps to help deter the possibility of becoming a burglar’s target.
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Install an Alarm System
While alarm systems are possibly the biggest no-brainer in deterring theft, only 14 percent of homes have security systems. This could be because of a false belief that alarm systems come with a hefty price tag. An alarm system doesn't need to break the bank; starter systems are available at home improvement stores for as little as $25.
A monitored home security system with an alarm company is your best bet. The monthly fee can be more affordable than you assume and should be considered.
Secure Entry Doors
Over half of intruders enter homes through a front or back door, so the smartest and most effective solution is to install deadbolts on all entry doors. You get what you pay for with deadbolts, so upgrade to a quality lock and use it at all times - even when you're home. They typically cost around $25.
Hollow doors are exceptionally easy to kick in, so if your home is outfitted with an older wooden door or one that's hollow, consider replacing it was a solid core door, either wood or metal clad. If you have a sliding access door, use a wooden rod or cheap curtain dowel in the track frame to prevent easy access.
Utilize Window Treatments
Experienced thieves will often "case" a home prior to break-in to scope out the best time for entry and to gain knowledge of where valuable items are located within a home. Keep your curtains or blinds drawn to discourage this behavior.
Lock Your Mailbox
Identity theft has become a growing problem and can be just as financially devastating as a home break-in. Your mail is an easy place for these types of thieves to gain access to all sorts of personal information including phone numbers, account numbers, social security numbers, etc. Consider investing in a secured mailbox.
Create a Lived-In Appearance When You're Away
Just like in the movie Home Alone, burglars looks for homes that appear vacant, so it's a good idea to keep up appearances even when you're on vacation. Stop regular deliveries, like your newspaper, and use automatic timers for lights. Leave a car in the driveway if you can and have a trusted neighbor keep an eye on your home.
Keep Entry Points in Clear View
While tall hedges around the perimeter of your home may give you a sense of privacy, it also gives intruders a hiding spot to gain entry to your home. If landscaping is a must, keep shrubs and bushes trimmed back to make sure windows and doors are visible from the street.
There's no doubt that nighttime is a good time for burglars to slink through your yard unnoticed, so make sure your yard and entrances are well-lit as a deterrent. Motion detectors are a great option for areas without constant lighting.
Though you would like to think that no one will gain access to your home without your permission, things happen. Purchase a fireproof safe for storing important personal documents, valuables, cash and jewelry. If the safe is small, you can bolt it to the floor or a piece of furniture to make it more difficult for a thief to walk away with.
According to the FBI, the average dollar loss per burglary in the United States is $2,158. This amount far exceeds the cost of any of the home improvements listed above, not to mention the amount of emotional damage a break-in causes burglary victims. Keep your family and your valuables safe by taking the proper steps to prevent a burglary in your home.
Looking for information about purchasing and financing your first home? Download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook, a great resource for first-time homebuyers.