Thief Burglar opening metal door with a crowbar during house breaking

A burglary occurs about every 15 seconds in the U.S., but this doesn’t mean that you have to turn your home into an impenetrable fortification to keep intruders away. Of course, you could just keep a watchdog in the yard, but there are more effective ways you can protect your home from invasion.

Lock up!

The easiest and most obvious way you can protect your home from a burglary is to lock all of the entry points. This may seem like a no-brainer, but some people don’t lock their doors and windows when they leave their home. In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly 40 percent of break-ins occur through unlocked doors or windows.

If you have a habit of leaving your home unlocked, then it’s a good idea to check for open doors and windows every time you leave. Whether you’re exiting or entering the home, always lock the door behind you for added security. But be careful that you don’t lock yourself out!

Conceal valuables

Don’t leave things in plain sight that someone could easily take without raising a lot of suspicion. For example, it’s unlikely that a passerby will question someone walking down the sidewalk with a bicycle, scooter, or push lawn mower, so make sure these items are stowed away in the garage when you’re not using them.

Take a walk around your home and make sure you conceal anything expensive that can easily be sold for cash. Some of the most commonly stolen household items include jewelry, money, electronics (e.g. televisions, radios, stereos, etc.), and firearms, so put these items away or rearrange your furniture so they’re out of sight from windows whenever possible.

Create the appearance that someone is home

Because burglars are more likely to break into your home during the day, make sure you create the impression that someone is home when you’re at work or school. For instance, you can trick burglars by turning on music, your television, or lights—a timer can help you manage these while you’re gone. You can also create the appearance that someone is home by keeping a car parked in the garage.

Also, don’t advertise that you’re not home. Leaving a note on your front door or an away message on your answering machine is an open invitation for a burglar. If you plan to be gone for an extended period of time, call the police and ask them to make a few patrols.

Install an alarm system

Although they can be expensive, alarm systems add an additional layer of protection whether you’re away or at home. In general, burglars are more likely to break-in if they know there’s no risk of being caught, so leave a home security sign in the front yard and alarm decals in the windows to make it obvious to an intruder that your home is protected. Even if you don’t have an alarm system these can still deter unwanted intruders.

The best home security systems will sound an alarm when a burglar tries to gain entry by breaking a window or kicking open a door. For this type of security, you should install an alarm system that uses motion detection and glass-break sensors.

Increase outdoor lighting

A thief is more likely to target your home if there is little chance of being detected. For this reason, make sure you have adequate lighting around your home and every access door. The front door should have ample lighting with at least two fixtures (in case one bulb burns out), and use outdoor landscape lights around walkways whenever possible.

Motion activated lights are great burglary prevention measures when used near garages, driveways, and yards. These lights can turn away would-be burglars if activated, and they can also alert neighbors.

Cut back trees, plants, and shrubs

Overgrown shrubs and trees make great hiding places for burglars, so it’s a good idea to trim your plants on a regular basis. If you have tall tree branches that extend to a balcony or an upper story window, cut these away from the house—this will not only make it more difficult to climb onto your roof, but it will also reduce some of the dark shadows in your yard.

It’s important to note that burglars are usually looking for an easy access point to your home, so the harder you can make it for someone to get in, the less likely an intruder will attempt a break-in.

Install keyless locks that cannot be picked

Keyless locks not only eliminate the need for a hide-a-key, but they also make it impossible for burglars to “jimmy” a lock. For example, lock bumping, a technique that uses a dummy key and a hammer, is a simple way to gain entry to a home that uses pin-tumbler locks. If your house uses these locks, then you might want to think about upgrading.

Keyless entry also means that you no longer have to worry about losing your keys or keeping track of who has a copy. From key fob entry to security codes, keyless locks can protect your home from burglary and provide a safer, more reliable means of security.

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