Burglar-Proofing

It’s important to make your home unattractive to burglars. Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe from intruders:

  • Exterior and interior doors that lead from the basement or garage should be constructed of solid wood or metal and equipped with dead-bolt locks.
  • A well-illuminated home is less of a target. Programmable timing devices can be used to activate interior and exterior lights. Set them for different times to make it appear that someone is always home.
  • Keep Your Home Well Lit. Both interior and exterior lighting are important to keep intruders at bay. Your home is best protected when there are signs of activity inside.
  • Inside light and appliance timers to turn radios and televisions on and off are inexpensive. Used regularly—whether you are home or away—they can be an effective means of ensuring that your home appears occupied. These devices are best used when the curtains are drawn at both the front and back of the home.
  • Outside lighting that is bright and well placed at doors and along pathways is a significant deterrent to the criminal who doesn’t want to be seen or identified. These lights should be powerful enough to provide 100-foot visibility. Light timers and photocells are useful to control outside lights as well. Garage or porch lights left on all day and night may indicate that you are away. Infrared-motion and heat-motion sensor lights are recommended at the rear of your home.
  • Reduce Foliage Cover. Obscured doors and windows are targets for forcible entry. Keep your trees, hedges and bushes trimmed to reduce the amount of cover on your property. Cut shrubs below window level and trim trees away from your house. Don't assume that upper floor windows are too high for a burglar's reach—check for branches that come close to your house—perhaps an invitation for a second floor entry.
  • Lock Up Your Ladders and Tools. Saws, axes, wire cutters, electric drills, hammers and ladders can come in very handy for the thief who didn’t bring his own. The preferred spot to store these items? Right inside the house.
  • An Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved safe or vault can be useful for storage of your more valuable items. The safe or vault should be permanently fastened, rendering it immovable. (For maximum protection, consider storing your most valuable items in a bank vault.)
  • An electronic burglar alarm system can also add to the protection of your home.

Are You Going Away? Go for the “Lived-in” Look, and Keep These Tips in Mind Before You Leave:

  • Minimize the number of people who know you will be away to trusted neighbors and close family.
  • Arrange to have someone check your house periodically.
  • In summer, have grass mowing and landscaping current and ensure that maintenance continues.
  • In winter, arrange for regular snow shoveling. If you have electrically heated sidewalks and/or driveways and want to turn them off to conserve power, ensure your neighbor knows how to reactivate.
  • Lock vehicles that remain at your home and, if possible, park them in a garage.
  • Store valuable items in a bank vault or a safe-deposit box.
  • Lock doors and windows.
  • Set timers on lights and certain appliances in various rooms.
  • Check batteries in smoke detectors/alarms.
  • Suspend mail and newspaper delivery if away for more than two days.
  • Lock up ladders and tools, preferably right inside the house.
  • Turn down the ringer on your telephones, and leave your answering machine on. Do not change your message to indicate that you are away.
  • Advise your alarm system monitoring provider if you are leaving for an extended period, and update your authorized roster.
  • Tell a neighbor your travel schedule and contact information, and leave them the household keys.

When You Are Away, Have a Neighbor:

  • Open and close your drapes and blinds.
  • Collect any flyers, newspapers, mail or parcels that have made it to your door.
  • Park a spare car in your driveway.
  • Put a bag of their garbage at your curb edge on garbage day.
  • Refill bird feeders as required.
  • In summer, water the lawn, planters and hanging baskets.
  • In winter, clear snow off any cars left outside.
  • Watch your home for any unusual activity, unplanned deliveries etc.

With some timers, the lights go on and off at different times each day, which means a burglar can't pick up on a pattern. Motion-sensor lights outside can also startle a burglar and make him flee. Consider installing them in front and back.

Read more tips on protecting your home.

Next: Intruder Deterrents