If a burglar wants into your home, he’ll get in one way or the other. But most burglars are lazy. If you make things difficult, it’s more likely that the burglar will go to the house down the block. There are some things you can do, however, to make your home less accessible to thieves.
Take a notebook and do a home security survey first. Jot down some notes. List any security weaknesses you discover in entry doors, windows, basement entries, and locks. Think like a burglar. Slip a credit card into the slot between the door and the latch and see if you can depress the mechanism and open the door. If you can, it means your lock is sub-standard and you should change it.
The new lock should be of the key-in and key-out variety. A deadbolt lock is an additional impediment to a burglar. Locks can be picked and smart burglars keep specialty tools for that purpose, but many locks are more difficult to cheat. If it takes a great deal of time to beat your system, the burglar won’t risk it.
Most homes are burglarized when the occupants are gone for a considerable length of time. There are tell-tale signs that burglars use to judge when occupants are not at home. When the mail piles up and newspapers lie in yard, the burglar’s eyes light up with the spark of opportunity. If you’re going way for any length of time, it’s best to notify the post office to hold your mail and stop newspaper delivery. Another sign of an absent homeowner is when the house is constantly dark for days at a time. The solution to that problem is light-sensing bulbs and fixtures which turn themselves on an off. Fixtures can also be programmed so that different lights are turned on in the home at various times.
A common problem with doors is when windows are placed within or close to the door locks and inside handle. A quick tap with a steel hammer and the burglar just reaches around for door handle on the inside. Door windows should be placed so that the burglar can’t reach the inside latches. Nor should the locks be located near the mail slot or a pet entrance.
The door itself is an obstacle in the way of a burglar. Be sure that the entry doors are of good quality and made of solid materials. ‘Solid core’ is a term to look for in composite doors. Metal doors with various attractive finishes are the strongest. Keep in mind that a door is only as good as its framing. The door frame itself should be of sufficient strength that it can’t easily be shattered or pried open with the ubiquitous crowbar.
Windows are a frequent source of entry for burglars. There are various types of locking devices for windows. Homeowners are often puzzled about this because they know that windows can be broken with hammers or bricks. That is true, but the sound of smashing glass is not something a burglar likes to hear. In addition, it’s no fun if he has to crawl through the jagged glass left when the window is smashed.
Once more, it’s a question of making your house a difficult target for burglars, not an impossible one. The combination of secure door and window locks works together to make thievery difficult.
Even if the burglar penetrates your home through a window, he will most certainly prefer to leave by the door. If that door requires a key to unlock it from the inside, and the door can’t be opened, the burglar is seriously inconvenienced. He is limited to carrying away small objects and exiting by the window.
In addition to entry points, there are some other barriers to burglary. The homeowner should have sufficient exterior lighting and motion sensors. The location of trees and shrubs should not obscure the entrances to the home. Visibility by patrolling policemen is a big deterrent and all neighborhoods have eyes.
Most of these suggestions will work very well to make the burglar’s task more difficult but home alarm systems are another additional security option. The most effective home alarm systems are expensive, require expert installation, and involve the purchase of a responding service which assesses the situation and relays information to the police.