Have you ever wondered how robbers pick a house to break into? When there are countless houses to choose from, what is it that makes them hone in on one to rob among all the others on the block?
While in some cases, it may be a criminal game of Eeeney Meeney Miney Mo, most of the time they’re taking a signal from you. Many people unknowingly send these signals to robbers that their home may be easier to hit than others. Here are eight things that make your home look like an easy target for burglars:
1. Unlocked doors and windows
Locking your doors and windows is one of the simplest things you can do to protect your home. As many as 40 percent of burglars enter homes through unlocked doors and windows, so it’s vital that you lock up, even if you’re only going to be gone a short while. Many burglars will knock first. If someone answers, they’ll often make up an excuse and move on. If no one answers, though, they’ll often try the door knob and windows. If yours are locked, they’ll likely go on to the next house, but if they find an easy way in, they can be in and out with your valuables in a flash. Sliding glass doors are among the most common entrances that folks forget to lock.
2. Proof of purchase
That new TV, fancy computer, latest video game system and other expensive gear all comes in boxes, and when they’re unboxed, you likely haul those boxes out to the curb… where they tell burglars exactly what they can get by coming into your home. Instead, break down boxes and bury them in your recycling and trash bins, or better yet, keep the boxes for expensive purchases inside until right before the garbage trucks arrive.
3. A cluttered curb or porch
Piled-up mail and newspapers, trash cans left at the curb for days at time, an overgrown lawn and other signs of neglected tasks clue robbers in that no one has been home in awhile. Make sure you plan ahead before vacations and stop your mail service or ask a neighbor to get it and hire someone to tend to your yard and other outdoor chores as necessary.
4. Air conditioning units on the first floor
Air conditioning units on the first floor and other structures often make it easy for burglars to access second-floor windows that people aren’t typically so vigilant about locking. Even if there’s no visible way for them to reach upper-story windows, it’s a good idea to lock them anyway, as burglars will use ladders and other means to make their way up there.
Also, window air conditioning units can easily be pushed or kicked out for easy entry, so be cautious about where you place them and take extra precautions if you use them on ground-level windows.
5. Privacy fences or shrubs
You put up that tall fence or large shrubs so that you’d have your privacy, but unfortunately, these things also give burglars privacy to go about their business without cluing in neighbors or passersby. Make sure your home is well-lit, and consider outside cameras and other alarms, particularly if you’re home is more secluded.
6. Your regular schedule
If it’s obvious that your home is vacant everyday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., burglars staking out homes make take note. A large number of burglaries occur during the day, so vary your schedule occasionally if possible and take extra precautions if your family does follow a regular schedule.
7. Your social media posts
While they may not see these driving by your house, criminals do scour social media accounts to find out who might be enjoying a nice vacation, leaving their home nice and vacant. We know it’s tempting to post that pic of your toes in sand with cocktail in hand, but wait until you get home to make all your friends jealous.
8. No signs of a security system
If burglars can tell that you have a security system, whether by signage in your yard or because they peek through the window and can see the control panel or sensors, they’re less likely to try to break into your home. In fact, one study found that 60 percent of burglars said they would choose another house if they saw indications of a home security system. Home security systems come in a wide range of prices with various capabilities, and most people can find one that fits their needs and budget and lets burglars know they’re on high alert.
There are no 100-percent guaranteed ways to ward off criminals, but taking some simple steps can go a long way to help keep your family and your home safe. So, check this list to make sure the signals you’re sending to criminals are loud and clear that they’re not welcome there.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.