Our fears about burglary often take place in the darkness of night. The fact of the matter is that most robberies occur during the day while the occupants are away at work or school. There are still nighttime opportunists who prefer the shadows, but just as many know the signs of an empty home and will actually study the habits of a neighborhood.
Statistically, a burglary happens in the U.S. every 14 seconds. According to interviews with convicted burglars, 96% said they would only rob a home that they believed was unoccupied at that moment in time. Most burglaries happen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the daytime because that’s when people are at work; the kids are in school and the neighbors were either at work as well, or less attentive than they would be late at night. Vacation time was also a favorite time because a burglar could take their time to thoroughly find valuables. Most non-vacation, daytime robberies were identified as an act of haste in the fear that someone would return home or was simply asleep somewhere in the house. The average time for a burglary is 15 minutes. While we often like to believe that burglars case a house or a neighborhood, most burglaries are crimes of opportunity. A criminal mindset is the mindset of an opportunist and they are always attuned to situations or weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. If a criminal sees an opportunity, they will exploit it. Here’s how to minimize the risk.
1. Adopt a dog
Next to an expensive security system, burglars said a barking dog would often make them walk away although some said they carried doggie treats, just in case. It wasn’t the fear of getting attacked by the dog as much as the noise. Criminals typically don’t want to be seen or heard and a barking dog complicates that desire.
2. Leave a radio or TV on when you’re away
You might think it’s a waste of electricity, but it’s way cheaper than a security system. If someone breaks into your house while your at work and sees or hears a TV or radio they will assume somebody is home and usually turn-tail and walk away. If you’re on vacation a small TV in your bedroom pointed towards a window is also a great deterrent. It says somebody is home at night and most burglars don’t want a confrontation.
3. A hard to reach, exterior motion-detector light
These are much cheaper than you think and turn on automatically when they sense movement or body heat in an area. Put them up high around doors or windows in remote areas around your house. You want them high because it’s very simple for someone to unscrew the bulb and return to the confidence of darkness.
4. Keep your location visible
Overgrown trees and shrubs around your house gives a burglar a good place to hide while they’re trying to jimmy open a door or window. Diminish the hiding spots so neighbors or passersby can see your house easily. You might like the privacy, but try to keep some distance between your house and overgrown landscaping.
5. Lock your car
A lot of us have automatic garage door openers in our cars, and how many of us lock the door between the garage and the house. You can have every door and window locked-down tight and it won’t mean a thing if all a burglar has to do is press a button on the little box on your driver’s side visor. If you can’t park your car in a garage, at least lock it up so they don’t have the electronic keys to your house.
6. Nosy neighbors
Your neighbors are watching and that’s a good thing. You might want to let one or two of them know when you’re going on vacation, and their visibility in the their yards and garages can be an effective deterrent to a criminal trolling for an opportunity. Then again, many of them probably work during the day so don’t bet the house on them… literally.
7. A low profile
Social networks are a good thing, but you might want to moderate your posts when it comes to vacation pictures or business trips. Not that you shouldn’t trust your friends, but sometimes they “share” with people you don’t know anything about. You’ll also want to cancel newspaper deliveries and hold your mail, but moderate how many people you inform. If the garbage man doesn’t see any cans on the street he’ll just pass you by and you can always reschedule those water bottle deliveries. You also might not want to allow some of your more valuable items to be visible through windows. A criminal usually has an alibi at the ready and some will pose as solicitors or delivery men to check out a target. Many will even ring the doorbell to see if you’re home.
8. Lock your second floor windows
There were two burglars arrested who were knows as “The Second Story Bandits.” They knew that most people didn’t bother to lock their second story windows and took full advantage. Don’t assume that they don’t know how to climb trees or won’t grab a handy ladder left or stored outside.
9. Have a plan for vacations
Given the fact that the Master Bedroom is often the primary target for a burglar, consider this: pull back the covers on your bed, punch the pillow and turn a book upside down on the bed. Leave a lamp and radio on by your bedside and close the bathroom door with a light on. Criminals are typically on high-adrenaline and very alert and will quietly tip-toe out of your house when they observe that scene. You might also want to put a lamp or two on a timer to create some variation on the interior lighting, and don’t forget to get a timer on that TV in the bedroom at night.
10. Fake a security system
You can buy signs and decals on the Internet for fake security systems that proclaim that your house is protected by an automatic system. Most professional criminals won’t be fooled, but the majority of burglaries are crimes of opportunity and the perpetrators are often anything but professional. In fact, most professionals are more flustered by deadbolt locks rather than fake security signs.
Ultimately, many burglaries are just a case of bad luck or bad location. But you can diminish the odds with some simple and inexpensive steps if you stop to think about the current state of your home security. You’ll sleep and travel better and won’t have to worry about those things that go bump in the dark…or the light.