Home burglary: different people fear it more or less than others for a variety of reasons, but nobody wants to do anything to make it easier for the bad guys. So, what can we do to deter people who might want to take off with our stuff?
It would be easy to just recommend you invest in a sophisticated security system or install deadbolts on every major door in your house, but these cost money (and often time) that many people don’t have. Luckily, there are still things you can do to keep unexpected guests from taking souvenirs from your home.
Show Them a Sign
Here’s a very simple idea: put up a “Beware of Dog” sign where newcomers would see it.
Yet I can hear you saying, “But National Assistance Network, I don’t have a dog.”
Hey, the robbers won’t know that. If they get the idea that there will be a living obstacle that can do them bodily harm, there’s a higher chance they’ll back off.
A strange dog, regardless of its shape and size, is not something anybody, lawful or otherwise, wants to come across in its own territory. Needless to say, if you actually do have a dog, you should especially get one of those signs.
That said, if you’re truly alright with lying a little to protect your home, you have another option, though this might be harder to come by.
Get a sign that says, “This home is protected by _______ Security.” If you choose to go this route, make sure to get a sign swearing allegiance to a real, legitimate company, because burglars can often tell a real sign from a fake.
Every Door an Obstacle
It goes without saying that doors should be locked and deadbolted, but is that always enough?
Locks and deadbolts themselves can be improved upon. Oftentimes, the mechanism they lock into on the door jamb is screwed in with screws “only” three inches long.
Many DIY home security experts insist you replace these with longer screws, and some even insist you try to get screws as long as nine inches. That might be too wide for your doorframe, but if it fits, then drill that bit.
What about the doors inside your home? Do they have key locks you can engage and disengage from outside the room?
If you’re going to be out of the house, you might as well lock them up. They might not be as secured as a bolted door, but if burglars are already inside the house, you might as well do what you can to impede and frustrate them even more.
For all anybody knows, it might be the thing keeping them from getting to the safe in your closet or the medicine cabinet. But remember that the doors need to be unlockable with a key from the outside. You would hate to get home just to find out you locked yourself out of the bathroom.
Are you going away for a while and need to lock up? If there are inward-opening external doors you’re 100% certain won’t be the one you walk through when you first return, why not barricade them? Push something heavy behind them so the door has extra reinforcements in case anyone tries to kick it in.
Sliding glass doors and windows pose a trickier challenge for locking up, but it’s not impossible.
Most sliding doors have a button by their bases that will lock them in place. But you can do one better: stick a rod or pipe into the door’s running track so the door literally cannot move. Do the same with your windows to fill the negative space and you’ll find these are now harder to open than even your regular doors.
Don’t Make It Easy for Them
It turns out trimming your trees and hedges isn’t just for curb appeal. Extra overgrowth means more places criminals can hide as they try to make their way into your home. If children could successfully hide behind them during hide-and-seek, the bushes are probably too thick.
Both inside and outside your home, don’t leave things out that burglars could use as tools. This could mean ladders, sharp cutlery, BB guns or, well, tools, like hammers or screwdrivers. If you can fathom it being used against you, it’s best to keep it off the path of least resistance.
You’ve probably heard of the old strategy of leaving a light or a TV on while you’re away to trick potential burglars into thinking you’re home. This isn’t a bad idea, but the well-versed bad guys can tell bad fakery from the real thing. Don’t overdo it, just leave enough on to make it look realistic.
If they do manage to get in, you can still minimize the damage. The fact of the matter is that while robbers are looking for valuable things, they’re not always looking for every valuable thing. Oftentimes they grab one or two things and leave so they don’t gamble with their time.
Keeping this in mind, you should certainly keep your valuables hidden away at all times, but do you have anything that’s, shall we say, not as valuable as it seems?
Do you have some passable-looking fake jewelry, or are you still hanging onto an old cell phone you’ve since replaced? Don’t rule out using them as decoys.
If robbers break in and the first thing they see is a laptop, they might grab it and split before they realize it’s ten years old and runs slower than a sloth.
It might seem unlikely, but if they’re immediately presented with what seems like great fortune, they might not push their luck any further.
When you think you’re running out of ways to trick them, bring in the backup: your favorite neighbors.
If you’re on vacation and need someone to look after the house, don’t just ask them to passively make sure there are no broken windows. Ask them to collect your mail, not just because piled-up mail is annoying, but because it’s a dead giveaway that you’re not home.
Also, if you’re going to be away during Garbage Pick-Up Day, ask them to take your cans to the curb and back so your house isn’t suspiciously the only one without them. The monetary cost of their help will vary by how close you and your neighbor are as friends.
In the end, just remember most people don’t want to rob people’s houses. All of this is just preparing in case of an unlikely event. But if that event ever does happen, you’ll be glad you were prepared.