More than two million home robberies take place each year, making Americans feel unsafe in their own homes. To protect against burglary and theft, follow these nine home protection tips.
1. First, install an alarm system. Many burglars will be thrown off by an alarm and retreat before entering. Whether you hire a professional or install it yourself, be sure that all wires are hidden so the entrant can’t cut the wires and enter unnoticed. For a do-it-yourself smart home system, check out the iSmartAlarm system, which includes various sensors and can be controlled by iOS or Android devices.
2. Keep in mind that nearly one quarter of home robberies occur when someone is in the house. If you don’t have an alarm system, use the next best thing — your smart phone. The Ultra Flashlight app for iOS has siren and alarm effects, and the Mobile Alarm System for Android can thwart burglars by sounding an alarm controlled by you, or based on unexpected movement. If siren apps are a bit too much for you, consider keeping your car keys nearby when you’re at home. If you hear an unexpected noise or think an intruder is trying to enter, you can press the panic button to scare them off.
3. Fake a burglary to check for any entry points you hadn’t considered, or to see if you have a tendency to leave your home unsecured. Test all doors, including sliding glass doors, garage doors and porch entryways. Plus, test all windows — including those that aren’t on the ground floor. It’s unlikely a burglar would use a ladder to get in, but if your backyard is relatively well-hidden from neighbors’ views, it could happen.
4. Always park your car in the garage with the garage door closed. This makes it harder for potential thieves to follow your pattern and to determine when you are home or not.
5. If your home keys go missing, don’t assume you’ve lost them. Err on the side of caution and replace all locks and keys immediately. Be sure to hide or lock up all spare keys so they can’t easily be taken from your home.
6. Change your garage code often, especially if you have kids. While it may not seem like a big deal that Johnny’s best friends come over every day after school, it only takes one person with an entry point to put your home in danger. If you leave town and have someone staying in your house, give them a temporary garage code or change the code immediately when you return.
7. When you go on vacation, try to make the house still look occupied. Ask a neighbor or friend to pick up all mail, newspapers, deliveries and front-door fliers, and to mow the lawn in the summer or clear the driveway in the winter. If you don’t have your lights on a sensor, ask your house sitter to turn on interior and exterior lights each night so it appears you’re in the home.
8. Never leave a note on the door for service providers or visitors inviting them in or telling them how to enter. If someone is coming over when you’re not home, ask that they call when they have arrived so you can walk them through the entry process. If you have guests who arrive frequently to your home while you’re gone — like a housekeeper, nanny or tutor — consider giving them a key or get a smart lock system that lets in approved guests. The August Smart Lock allows you to control entry for different parties during specific times and dates.
9. Try to keep announcements of big purchases and vacations off Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If that proves impossible, be sure that your account is locked down so posts can only be seen by trusted friends. Remember not to post on pages that could advertise your absence, like pet-sitting agencies, hotel chains or airline and cruise line pages.
Overall, it’s important to be on guard without spending your days and nights convinced a break-in is imminent. By protecting yourself with the above tips, applications and systems, you can ensure your home’s safety and your sanity.