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Simple Tips to Help Prevent Home Theft

Home Theft

If you were writing a “Home Theft for Dummies” handbook, rule #1 would be “find an easy mark.” You don’t want to be the easy mark. Below are some home theft prevention tips you can use at your home. Many of these tips are simple, easy-to-employ recommendations. The average homeowner will have no problem making them part of a secure routine and making your home less attractive to potential thieves. If you don’t want to take these tips, you may be the mark, and maybe you need to get better homeowners insurance.

Did you know that research has found that a burglar will avoid your home if it takes more than four (4) or five (5) minutes to break in?

That’s right, so do your part and make your home safer by making sure you have the proper deadbolt locks, window grates, bars, and smoke/fire/burglar alarms.

This is just basic smarts, and most home insurance companies will provide discounts ranging from 2% to 15% for security devices.


When improving your home’s security, don’t make choices that compromise your personal safety. Your home should not be such a fortress that you’re unable to escape in the event of an emergency, like a home fire.

Correct weaknesses in your home security

  • Walk around your home and identify the places where it would be easiest for a burglar to enter the property. Ask yourself, “how can I make it more burglar-resistant?
  • Trim back trees and shrubs near doors and windows. High fences and shrubbery are nice for providing privacy around your home, but they also provide an asset to a burglar looking to avoid being seen. It may be better to sacrifice a little privacy for the added security provided through visibility.
  • Burglars don’t like well-lit areas, think about installing exterior lights and motion detectors. They should be mounted out-of-reach, but still, provide reduced darkness that burglars require.
  • Sometimes the simple devices work great, devices like padlocks, grates, bars, and bolts increase the time required to gain entry to your home, providing a nice deterrent to most burglars.
  • A burglar alarm is an effective way to deter a would-be home invader, consider installing a home security system. The most effective ones are connected to a central monitoring service.

Whenever possible, make sure your valuables, like paintings, silver collections, electronics, and jewelry are not easily viewable from outside the home. Rearranging your home may be advisable if it makes it more difficult for a would-be robber to be enticed by your stuff.

Home security basics

Doors – Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors should be metal or solid hardwood, and at least 1 3/4 inches thick. Frames must be made of equally strong material, and each door must fit its frame securely. Even the most efficient lock, if it is placed in a weak door, will not keep out a determined burglar.

A peephole or a wide-angle viewer in the door is safer for identifying visitors than a door chain.

Sliding glass doors present a special problem because they are easy to open, but if you have these doors, you can find special locks for them. A broomstick in the door channel can also help, but cannot be depended on.

Locks – Deadbolt locks are best. They usually are locked with a key from the outside and a thumb turn on the inside. The cylinder (where the key is inserted) should be pick-resistant. Ask your hardware dealer for a reputable brand or buy your locks from a locksmith.

Windows – Key locks are available for all types of windows. Double-hung windows can be secured simply by “pinning” the upper and lower frames together with a nail, which can be removed from the inside.

For windows at street level or on fire escapes, consider installing metal accordion gates.

Develop home security habits

  • Establish a routine to make certain that doors and windows are locked and alarm systems are turned on.
  • Avoid giving information to unidentified telephone callers and announcing your personal plans in want ads or public notices (such as giving your address when advertising items for sale).
  • Notify the police if you see suspicious strangers in your area.
  • Do not carry house keys on a key ring bearing your home address or leave house keys with your car in a commercial parking lot or with an attendant.
  • Do not hide your keys in “secret” places outside your home—burglars usually know where to look.

Home security tips when you go on vacation

  • Leave blinds open in their usual position.
  • Have mail and packages picked up, forwarded, or held by the post office.
  • Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so they cannot be heard outside.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed in summer and your walk and driveway shoveled in winter.
  • Stop newspaper deliveries.
  • Ask a friend to pick up “throw-away” newspapers and circulars.
  • Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off in various parts of the house at appropriate times. Consider connecting a radio to a timer.
  • Tell the police and dependable neighbors when you plan to be away and join with your neighbors to keep a close watch on what’s happening in your area. Working closely with them is a good way to prevent crime.

The bottom line

It is impossible to totally eliminate home theft risks, but if you follow these tips you can vastly reduce your chances of a break-in. If you have more questions, you can consult a home security specialist or your insurance agent for more useful tips.

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