According to the FBI a burglary takes place every 15.4 seconds in the United States. It is the most common threat to your home. However, you can easily thwart burglars with some simple tips. Burglars look for the path of least resistance, preferably open windows or doors. They’ll settle for unreinforced entry doors or patio doors, too.
Since burglars are looking to get in and get out quickly, if you make it harder for a burglar to enter, they’ll usually move on. Here are a few simple ways to make yourself less of a target and beef up the security on your home.
1. Lock your windows and doors. This one may seem silly, but many burglars get into homes because the owner forgets to lock their windows or doors. And don’t just keep your windows and doors locked when you’re gone—lock them at night when you’re asleep too.
Some windows come with special interlocking mechanisms designed to prevent burglars from slipping credit cards in and unlatching the lock. If you have a window with this interlock system, make sure the windows are aligned properly, or it won’t work.
2. Don’t hide keys in obvious places. Maybe you keep a spare key under the welcome mat. On top of the doorframe. In the garage under a paint can. In a stone turtle in your garden.
Burglars know to look for spare keys in these places. Find somewhere more hidden and less obvious to keep your spare key.
3. Don’t leave your windows open. Never leave windows open while you’re not at home. A burglar can easily get in. If you leave windows open at night, only open them about six inches, and make sure they can’t be opened further from the outside. And don’t leave windows near doors open, or the burglar could reach in and unlock the door.
4. Reinforce windows near doors. A window near a door is a prime target for burglars. A burglar could break the glass, then reach in and unlock the door. If you have a choice, don’t put windows within one foot of a door. If you already have windows near the door, or have glass in or around your door, make sure the glass is tempered safety glass. This glass is four times stronger than regular glass, so a burglar won’t be able to break it easily.
5. Secure your door with a 1″ deadbolt. Regular locks can easily be picked or bypassed. Deadbolts, on the other hand, extend from the door into the doorframe, creating a strong lock that’s tough to beat. Multi-point locking systems, with several deadbolts spread up and down the door, provide even greater security.
6. Reinforce your lock to prevent kick-ins. The most common way for burglars to gain access to homes is by kicking in the door. Many doors are easy to kick in, even if they have a deadbolt. That’s because the area around the lock is reinforced with wood. When a burglar kicks at the lock, the lock often rips straight through the wood around the lock.
To better protect your door, get a 20-gauge metal plate to reinforce the lock area. A deadbolt with a lock area reinforced by metal, is virtually impervious to kick in attempts.
7. Protect your patio door. Most patio doors do not have locks, only latches. Burglars can force latches open from the outside. A simple way to enhance the security of your patio door is to put a wooden block or rod in the track, preventing the door from being opened from the outside.
Burglars can also just lift the patio door off the track. Since patio doors are on rollers, they aren’t actually secured to the track. To prevent this, make sure your rollers are working smoothly and your door isn’t wobbly, as this indicates a burglar could easily pick the door up.
Some companies include auxiliary foot locks as a standard feature on patio doors. Foot locks have metal rods that extend into the metal track, creating a deadbolt for your patio door. This prevents the door from being opened even if the latch isn’t in place, and it stops the door from being lifted.
8. Set your lights on a timer. Burglars often look for homes or apartments where the lights are off night after night. This tells the burglar that the owners are out of town or on a trip, and that it will be an easy target.
Don’t let burglars get this idea. Get a light switch timer. These are available at most home improvement stores. They turn your lights on and off at a time you set. So it will look like you’re home even when you aren’t.