Burglars enter an unoccupied private or commercial property with the intent to steal items from the property. They may enter stealthily, or disregard noise discipline. They may be in and out in seconds, grabbing whatever they can get their hands on, or loiter on the property ransacking it for valuables. They may be amateurs seeking drugs, money for drugs, or items to sell or trade for drugs. They may be professionals, meaning their primary source of income is from burglaries. They seek high end electronics, original artwork, expensive jewelry, or other valuables, and have a fence or broker in stolen merchandise to move the items they steal. Some professional burglars will be seeking a specific item they have been commissioned to steal, or they will clean out a property, taking everything they can.
The bad news is that if someone is determined enough to get in, they will find a way and you probably won’t be able to stop them. The good news is, that few homes or business are a high value enough target to warrant the attention of a professional burglar. Whatever type of burglar you may want to deter, focus on one thing: make you home or business that hardest place to break into ever. If someone wants to burglarize you, make them work harder for it than they have ever had to work for anything in their life.
Different methods are needed to defeat certain types of burglars, while other methods are general and applicable to all types of burglars.
Some Ways to Make a Burglar’s Job as Difficult as Possible
Layered security is the best model for protecting your home. A burglar may bypass several layers, only to be faced with more.
- Two things burglars don’t like are light and noise. Your front and back door should be illuminated at night. LED or spiral fluorescent bulbs are inexpensive to purchase and cost only pennies a month on your electric bill. You can also install motion detectors which will turn a light on in response to movement.
- A dog is a great asset to home security. You do not need a large vicious trained attack dog to do this job. A little five pound yapper will bark hysterically at any unusual noises. Dogs have hearing and a sense of smell many times more acute than ours, and are fiercely loyal and territorial. Burglars tend to avoid confrontation. A barking dog draws attention.
- Doors should have deadbolt locks on them. In-knob locks are next to useless. The doors need to be solid, and built into a solid frame, and should not have large windows. Barrel Bolt locks are inexpensive, easy to install, and are for use when you are at home. Depending on your needs, you may want to have two or more of them on the door in addition to a deadbolt. Barrel Bolt locks vertically set into the bottom the door going into the floor will provide the strongest barrier. Note that if you live in a cold climate, frost heaves can cause problems with this type of setup.
- Windows should always be locked. Sash locks are easily bypassed. Two is better than one, or this is another place for a barrel bolt lock. Place glass bottles, jars or cans full of rocks, sea shells, or bottle caps on window sills. If someone tries to open the window you want a loud crash, bang, and boom. Someone will be forced to break a window in order to breach it, meaning they have to make a suspicious noise. Glass breaking tends to draw attention.
- A very simple and inexpensive locking mechanism can be made from an eye screw and an eye bolt. Screw the eye screw into the door frame, then when you want to lock it, slide the bolt through the eye of the eye screw. A tether can keep the two pieces together.
- Don’t advertise what you have. Keep your shades down and your curtain drawn. And don’t go on social media and do this:
"Hi everybody. Look at this new Rolex I got. It is worth 40,000"
"Hi everybody; I just got a new original Rembrandt."
"Hi everybody; we are off to Bermuda for two weeks. See you when we get back. "
You may find a few things missing when you return from Bermuda.
- Be careful who you let into your home. This includes your kid’s friends, repairmen, and service workers. Be polite as 99% of the time they are there to install carpet or tile, paint a room, move a fridge or piano, or stop your sink from leaking, with no ulterior motives. A very small number of them are there for nefarious purposes, and are casing your home for a future burglary. Get their full names, their plate numbers and name of the logo on their vehicles and their description. This applies even to trusted, established companies, as they may employ untrustworthy people.
- Get to know your neighbors. Nosy neighbors are your allies. Someone retired, who stays home most of the time, and has lived in the neighborhood for years, will know when something is out of place or someone doesn’t belong. Same for people who work at home, which is becoming more and more common.
- Alarm systems and surveillance cameras tend to be expensive, but are a good investment. There are also low cost methods to improve home security. These options may also apply if you rent, and are unable to make substantial changes or installations in the property. Game trail cameras set up inside your home, or outside covering doors or windows are a low cost alternative to a thousand dollar or more integrated surveillance system. Check local ordinances and if you are a renter, with your landlord to make certain this is legal. In most towns, it is legal to put out outdoor cameras if you have a sign noting that video surveillance is taking place, but some landlords may ask you not to, citing privacy concerns of the neighbors. Some jurisdictions may have different rules for residential vs commercial property.
If deterrence fails, and you get burglarized, make a police report. If you come home and find your door or a window has been breached, and you live alone do not go inside. Call the police. The burglar may still be inside. You will need to file a police report in order to collect from your insurance company. Have homeowners or renters insurance and a photograph your belongings and keep an inventory of your belongings.
Never make it easy for the bad guys.