Burglary is one of the most commonly committed crimes in the US. According to FBI crime statistics, there were approximately 1.2 million burglaries committed in this country in 2018. While that represents a decrease of nearly 12% compared to 2017, the numbers are still too high.
Some basic middle school math reveals that the average rate of burglary is just over two per minute. By the time you finish reading this post, 10 or more burglaries will have occurred across the country. One of the targeted homes might be yours. Think on that for a minute.
The thing about burglary is that it is somewhat predictable. Years of study have revealed just what burglars look for when targeting homes. Though the list is extensive, there are four factors that stand out more than anything else. If any apply in your case, your home might be a target for burglars.
1. Obvious Signs That No One is Home
It stands to reason that burglars would prefer to target homes that are unoccupied. That’s why the vast majority of burglaries occur during the daylight hours, when parents are at work and kids are in school. Your home could be a burglary target if it displays obvious signs that no one is around.
Vivint Smart Home referenced empty homes in a recent blog post about winter burglaries. Think on that. If a vacationing homeowner doesn’t contract with someone to keep the driveway and walk clear snow and ice, one good storm will quickly reveal that his house is unoccupied. Burglars are clever enough to recognize other signs too – like cars parked in the same spot and lights that always go on at the same time every day.
You have undoubtedly heard tips in the past about stopping your mail and having someone put your garbage out when you’re away on vacation. It’s all sound advice. But realize that burglars hear the same advice. They look for other signs that you might miss. As such, your best bet is to have someone come and stay at your house while you’re away. That eliminates this issue altogether.
2. Flimsy Door and Window Locks
The best burglars know how to get in and out quickly. Prior to actually committing a burglary, they might knock on the door of a target home just to see if anyone is there. They will also use the occasion to take a good look at the lock on the door. What they observe is important, even if someone answers.
Flimsy door and window locks are an invitation to burglary inasmuch as they make forced entry easier. If your front door is secured only by a single lock built-in to the handle, that is not enough. You need a heavy-duty deadbolt.
The same goes for window locks. Locks installed at the factory are terribly flimsy and rather easy to breach. A heavy-duty external lock that attaches to the window frame is a better option. It makes breaching a window more difficult and time-consuming.
3. Excessive Package Deliveries
Another thing that burglars pay attention to are package deliveries. They are particularly interested in homes that routinely have packages sitting on the front porch. And no, this isn’t about porch piracy. Although porch piracy is a real problem, burglars looking to get inside your home pay attention to the number of packages you have sitting on the porch.
Packages sitting for hours on end indicate you are not home. If a burglar observes packages on your porch several days per week, it is an indication that you are buying a lot of stuff. The combination of the two factors might be too much for that burglar to resist. Your home might be teed up as his/her next target.
There are multiple ways to handle this. Most companies will allow you to make special arrangements for accepting deliveries. For example, you might be able to instruct delivery drivers to pop open the garage door and leave packages there. You can also arrange to have packages shipped to someone else’s house – say a friend or neighbor, for example.
A small number of retailers are starting to offer indoor delivery programs. In order to make this work, you have to have electronic door locks that can be opened with a key code. The delivery driver opens the front door, leaves the package inside the door, and closes the door behind him as he leaves. Everything is tracked electronically so you know exactly when the delivery occurs.
4. General Carelessness
Finally, burglars pay attention to how careless homeowners are. They look for things like cars left running in the driveway and garage doors left open all day. These sorts of things demonstrate that a homeowner is generally careless enough that he or she could possibly make the burglar’s job easy.
Leaving the garage door open leaves you vulnerable to a quick theft. But it also tells burglars that you may have been too distracted to lock the door leading from the garage into the house. As for leaving the car running in the driveway, that is a direct invitation to have it stolen.
Another sign of general carelessness is a yard that looks unkempt. Letting the grass grow too long and failing to keep the trees and shrubs properly trimmed indicates that you don’t spend a lot of time taking care of your property. This suggests to burglars that you may not have gone to the effort to secure windows and doors. A home with an unkempt yard is an invitation for burglars to attempt a quick entry.
Burglars know what to look for in target homes. So, is your home a likely target? That depends on what burglars see when they go by. Do yourself a favor and drive by your home as though you were a visitor to the neighborhood. Try to look closely at your property from a burglar’s perspective. You do not to make your home attractive to them.