What are the odds of your home being broken into? They may be higher than you think. One in every thirty-six homes will be broken into each year, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The average homeowner suffers $2,230 in property loss per break in, totaling $4.7 billion stolen annually from U.S. citizens. Many homeowners are victimized more than once after burglars identify them as an easy target. Often bad habits leave homeowners needlessly vulnerable. Here are some of the most common bad habits that can leave your home at a higher risk of becoming burglarized.
Forgetting to Lock the Front Door
Locking your door is one of the simplest burglary prevention steps you can take, but a surprising number of people don’t do it. Here’s what FBI data shows:
- 34 percent of burglars break in through the front door
- Adults over 65 were less likely to lock their doors than younger people
- Men were less likely to lock their doors than women
- Rural dwellers were less likely to lock their doors than city dwellers and suburbanites
- Midwesterners were less likely to lock their doors than those from other regions
- Whites were less likely to lock their doors than other ethnic groups
Simply taking the time to lock your door can leave you significantly less vulnerable to become burglarized. Make sure you have a deadbolt lock instead of just relying on the lock on your doorknob.
Not Securing Access Points
After front doors, the most common ways burglars get in are through windows and back doors. Many people leave their windows open during summer months, or place an air conditioner in their window, which a burglar can easily remove. Make sure you secure your windows and back door. If you use an air conditioner, you can make it more secure by installing screws through the top mounting rail, installing window frame locks, or using a window wedge.
Basement doors and windows and garage doors can also be vulnerable entry points. Lock your basement door with a dead bolt just as you would your front door. Bars and grills are one of the most effective ways to secure basement windows. Thieves can open garage doors by inserting a coat hanger through the top of the door and using it to release the emergency latch. Prevent this by disabling the emergency release, removing the cord attached to it, and locking the release lever.
Not Installing a Security System
Another frequent mistake is not installing a home security system. Burglars tend to be deterred by a camera, motion detector or alarm. It’s worth the investment to get a HD security camera system, especially when some companies, such as Lorex Technology, offer systems that don’t require a monthly subscription.
A dog can also be a great security system. Most burglars say they will avoid a home with a big, loud dog.
Hiding a Spare Key Outside
Another common mistake homeowners make is leaving a spare key outside their home in an obvious location such as under a doormat or in a fake rock. Burglars who have been interviewed after their arrests say that one thing they typically do when staking out a home is look for a hidden key. If you feel a need for a spare key, keep it in your wallet or purse or with a trusted neighbor.