Becoming a victim of home theft is surprisingly common. In 2015, a burglary occurred every 19 seconds the United States.1
So how do you prevent your family from turning into another statistic?
There are a few things to keep in mind about burglaries. First, most of them happen during the day when nobody is home. Also, around 35 percent of household burglaries in 2015 did not involve forced entry, meaning someone walked, climbed or crawled right in those homes.1
But you don't have to live in Fort Knox be safe. There many simple things you should — and shouldn't do — to make your home more secure.
have your locks changed if you didn't when you first moved into your home. And make sure you know everyone who has the keys.
leave a spare key under the mat or in a flower pot (or any obvious hiding spot) on your front porch. Give one to a trusted neighbor instead.
install motion sensor lights to deter uninvited visitors from getting too close to your home.
advertise that you have new big-ticket items like a TV or computer by tossing their boxes in the trash or leaving them out on the street.
let the would-be criminals know that you have an alarm system. Display the alarm company sign prominently in your yard because the most effective alarm is an obvious one.
announce that you're out of town on social media. Be careful even posting vacation photos while you're still away. One status update or photo could tip off a burglar that your home is empty.
get to know your neighbors. Studies consistently show that Neighborhood Watch programs reduce crime and violence. You can also ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home when you're away, or for anyone else who might have access to your house. A burglar might not be a stranger.
let mail or newspaper pile up if you leave town. That's an open invitation to criminals. Ask a friend or neighbor to pick it up. And have them move your car in the driveway so it looks like someone's home.
keep the outside of your home well-lit and the bushes cut low and manicured. This is called Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
. The idea is that a person is less likely to commit a crime if they think someone will see them do it.
leave your windows open; even second floor windows can be accessed via trees and ladders. And always lock them, and be sure you have a solid wood or metal front door with a reinforced kick-plate and strong deadbolt.
Finally, find out if your local police and law enforcement office provides a free home security evaluation. They can survey your property and identify any further steps you can implement. And check online crime maps
in your area to get to know your neighborhood. Become a vigilant homeowner and neighbor by keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. You'll not only help keep your home safer, but your neighborhood as well.