Burglar-Proof Your Home

Burglary. lt's a homeowner's nightmare. Discovering one's home has been ransacked is a violation of privacy that stays with us long after we recover from the actual crime.

In the past two decades, break and enter rates have risen dramatically in many communities. We are all vulnerable, but there are precautions we can take to discourage burglars from hitting on our homes.

The first step is to become aware that break-ins can happen anywhere, anytime. Don't wait until it happens to you or to the next door neighbour; the time to burglarproof your home is now if you haven't already done so.

Install an alarm system

Statistics show that homes with some form of alarm system are 15 times less likely to be broken into. An added advantage is that you can often get security-related discounts on your home insurance premiums.

Before deciding to install an alarm system, however, you should understand what these devices can and can't do. Some are very simple; others practically turn your home into a fortress. Most homeowners should aim for a system that doesn't necessarily catch the burglar in the act, but helps prevent major loss and damage - and is simple to maintain.

Think like a burglar

Before taking any further precautions, a homeowner needs to understand the mind of a burglar. Burglars typically fall into three categories.

The amateur is the most common. This individual is in his or her late teens or twenties and burglarize most likely to supplement a part-time income. The amateur avoids homes with burglar alarms, likes to first stake out the homes intended to be hit and will break in using almost any tool, causing a lot of damage. He or she will break in day or night, take money and anything small that can be converted to cash, then flee on foot.

The semiprofessional is the second most common. This individual is slightly older, usually drives a car and may have a partner. He or she may actually park the car in the driveway of the home targeted. Unlike the amateur, this one is well-equipped, wears gloves, causes less damage and may even pose as a delivery or repair person, but will also generally avoid homes with alarm systems.

The professional is the most intelligent and the least common. This individual almost always works in the evening, communicates by cell phone or two-way radio with a partner, monitors a police scanner and likes to hit very expensive homes in affluent areas. Most of these homes have alarm systems, but this individual is a pro at disabling them. The professional usually concentrates on lightweight objects of value such as money, jewelry, art work and stamp and coin collections.

To protect your home against any of these burglar types, ask yourself: what would keep me from breaking in? When they pass by your home, burglars must be convinced that not only is it well protected but that if they do get in, they will be caught by the police or a vicious guard dog.

Take some simple precautions

Put some signs on windows and doors warning of a guard dog, high voltage, alarm systems, no large amounts of cash or valuables inside. These warnings don't have to be true. The idea is to confuse the burglar and get him or her to reconsider the risk.

Make your home look occupied at all times. Put lights, a radio and the television on timers. If you are away, arrange for someone to pick up your mail, clean the snow or cut the lawn.

Trim any shrubs or bushes near windows and doors. These may increase your privacy, but they also make ideal hiding places for burglars. You can also use outdoor sensor lights to illuminate the property and any possible hiding places.

Secure all exterior doors and windows. A burglar can kick in a weak door. Locks should be good quality dead bolts. All windows should have some form of anti-slide lock, especially if they are located at ground level.

Do not leave any ladders outside and ensure that any stored in the garage are inaccessible to burglars.

Remove any large, decorative signs with your family name on them. These invite burglars to look up your telephone number and see if you are home. A burglar with a telephone directly and a cell phone can be standing right in front of your home and calling to see if you are in!

Keep large amounts of cash and jewelry in a safety deposit box at a bank. If you hide these in your home and think that a burglar will never guess the spot - think again. A professional burglar can outwit you.

Engrave all your valuables with some coding method. This makes it harder for thieves to sell the goods and easier for police to find them.



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