You may think you live in a safe neighborhood. Perhaps you even live way out in the country and your closest neighbors are miles away. Nothing bad could ever happen there, right?
The truth is theft can happen anywhere. Burglars will go to neighborhoods that have low crime rates. Thieves can break into an empty home you haven’t moved into yet and strip your house of its copper piping, leaving you with a hefty repair bill.
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It’s easy to become complacent and let your guard down when no one can remember the last time your neighborhood’s peace was disrupted. Let’s look at some of the most common ways you can be vulnerable to home burglary so you can protect yourself.
1. Window Access
You may be diligent in locking the windows after you open them to let in some fresh air, but an unlocked window isn’t the only way a burglar can use them to gain entry into your home.
Window Unit Air Conditioners
One of the most obvious and easy points of entry are window unit air conditioners. When installing these units, you simply open a window, place the unit within it, and close the window on the air conditioner. There is literally nothing stopping a burglar from removing a first-floor window unit within their reach. They can quietly open your window enough to grab the air conditioner, place it on the ground, and use it as a stepping stool to get inside your home.
If window unit air conditioners are a must-have accessory for your home, consider only placing them on second story floor levels or higher. Window units can also be customized to be built directly into your wall. At the very least, always remember to remove window unit air conditioners when the weather gets cooler and it’s time to heat the house instead.
Privacy Fences & Shrubs
Tall, solid privacy fences can be a deterrent to prowlers. After all, that privacy fence could be hiding a ferocious guard dog. Unfortunately, determined burglars often case a place before they make their move. If they wait long enough to know they don’t have to worry about a dog, they’ll take the time to see if that tall privacy fence is protecting lower windows from the view of your neighbors. Thick, tall shrubs and bushes can also shield your windows from the public eye.
Many neighbors won’t act when they hear a window break once. One good blow is often all it takes for a burglar to reach inside and unlock the window. Trimming shrubs and bushes back from your windows can help deter break-ins. If you have a privacy fence, consider adding some “Beware of Dog” signs even if you don’t have a dog or Fido spends more time inside than out.
2. Front Doors with Large Windows
Using the front door is one of the most common entry points for burglars. While that big fancy window with the frosted design in your front door may look beautiful, it just takes one quick smash to break a hole big enough for burglars to reach in and unlock your deadbolts. If you really want a window in your door, choose small windows a person can’t fit through or windows positioned so someone can’t reach an arm down and unlock the door.
3. “Hidden” Spare Keys
Thieves can be clever, and people can be predictable. Forget about hiding keys under the mat, above the door frame, under a potted plant, or in garden statues with compartments. These spots are so common that you’re better off skipping the hidden key and contacting a locksmith if you lock yourself out
If you absolutely must have a hidden key, make sure you find a spot that is very difficult to get to, even if you are the person that has a bad habit of locking themselves out or misplacing your keys.
4. Secondary Entries
Don’t forget about side or basement doors just because you don’t use them very often. Installing proper deadbolts on all of your entry doors will help fortify your home and most home insurance companies will give you a small discount for doing so. If you have steel cellar doors, don’t compromise them by using a lock that can easily be snipped with bolt cutters. Get a tempered lock that would need to be worked on with a high powered torch or better equipment. Your average thief likely won’t bother with quality locks.
5. New Homes with Old Locks
When you purchase a new home, you don’t know who has copies of the keys. Multiple neighbors and friends or relatives of the old homeowner are still likely to have access keys. Replacing the locks, deadbolts, and any locks on sheds and other outbuildings should be one of the first steps you take to ensure your family’s safety in a new home.
Remember, just because it hasn’t happened to you or your neighbors, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Adding security cameras to your home will also give you peace of mind. You’ve worked hard for everything you have, so put the extra effort into protecting your family and possessions.
About the Author
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events,travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.