Though not all of us have the time or ingenuity to pull off a Home Alone and set elaborate traps and hook up ziplines to our tree houses, here are seven ways to burglar proof your house — without setting Joe Pesci’s head on fire.
1. Buy Laminated Windows
This was the number one tip from this Reddit AMA, in which a former cat burglar gave a thief’s perspective on home security. According to him, the easiest way to rob a house was to smash a window, climb in and climb out before any alarm could alert the police. Breaking laminated windows is very time consuming and noisy — two things burglars want to avoid. Once their crow bar doesn’t break your window on the first or second swing, chances are the crook is going to make a break for it and target someone else’s more vulnerable house.
2. Buy Sturdy Doors
It would be foolish to buy sturdy windows but ignore the most common point of entry to your home. It’s smart to have a door made of solid material that can’t be smashed in with only a little more difficulty than a window, but the way in which your door is secured can be just as important. All exterior doors should have a deadbolt that goes into a solid strike plate. Make sure the strike plate is attached to a stud and not just the door jamb. The sturdiest door can be opened if you expose the hinges — the thief could just remove the whole thing with a screwdriver.
3. Don’t Rely on a Pet
Whether you have a guard rabbit, dog or snake, the truth is animals don’t act as much of a deterrent to thieves. Assuming you’re not at home, a dog’s barking won’t alert any neighbors that someone is breaking into your house. Think of it this way: How many times have you ignored a neighbor’s dog’s annoying yips? They’re just background noise at this point.
Plus, an experienced burglar will carry pet treats with him and make friends with your supposedly fearless sentinel before robbing you — that’s what the thief in the Reddit AMA did. In fact, some thieves even target homes with dogs because it means the house probably does not have a motion sensor alarm system.
4. Consider a Home Security System
Even if you have a pet who will tip thieves off that you don’t have a motion sensor, a home security system that notifies police as soon as someone attempts a forced entry could be worth the investment. It’s true the authorities would likely arrive after a burglar has made his or her escape, but it’s also possible the moment an alarm starts blaring, the average burglar will scuttle away before having the chance to grab any valuables. Besides, even just being able to put that sign in your yard or sticker on your window that your home has a security system could be enough to convince thieves to try a different house.
5. Don’t Leave Valuables Out in the Open
Back to that Reddit AMA — thieves are interested in getting out as quickly as possible. That Reddit burglar repeatedly mentions how the most common thing he’d take would be cash left out in the open or in drawers. Don’t make things this easy for the burglar. Don’t leave cash lying around and consider investing in a safe for jewelry and other valuables.
6. Don’t Tell the World You Aren’t Home
Allstate Insurance had a commercial during the college football playoffs this year in which their reoccurring anthropomorphized Chaos was auctioning off a couple’s valuables while they weren’t at home. The couple in the commercial had been so excited to score tickets to the playoff game that they announced it on social media, giving Chaos the tip he needed to know they wouldn’t be home.
Try your best to avoid broadcasting when your home will be ripe for the picking. If you’re going on vacation and have a newspaper subscription, cancel it for the duration of your trip or have your neighbor pick it up so the papers won’t pile up and make it obvious no one is at home.
7. Buy Security Cameras
These can work as a great deterrent if the cameras are visible on the outside. The real trick with these is to make them upload their footage online automatically so a determined thief can’t destroy them or tear apart the tapes and make you lose the footage. Then, even if they don’t work as a deterrent, you’ll have great evidence to show the police and can greatly increase the chances of recovering your property.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.