Burglars, robbers and thieves, oh my!Apr 01, 2022 02:18PM ● By Kimberly Blaker
You’re nearly asleep when suddenly, you’re startled by a noise. Instantly, you’re paralyzed by the fear of an intruder.
Fortunately, most of those bumps in the night turn out to be little more than the ice maker or house settling. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Justice reports approximately 3.7 million burglaries occur each year.
So how can you protect your home and yourself? Prevention is the best line of defense. But it’s equally important to be prepared and know what to do should a burglary occur when you’re at home.
Lock your front door
The front door is one of the most common entry points for burglars. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for burglars to knock on the front door to see if anyone’s home.
There are several things you can do to prevent unwanted entry into your home through doors.
• Keep doors locked at all times, whether you’re home or not.
• Install a deadbolt on all doors. Proper installation is crucial, so consider hiring a locksmith.
• Install a peephole.
• Eliminate or frame-in sidelight windows. Security window film can also prevent entry, or at least slow down a burglar.
Enforce windows and patio doors
Typically, sliding glass doors don’t come with very secure locks. Consider adding a keyed patio door lock and security pin, or add something as simple as a security bar or wooden dowel in the door track.
The same is true of windows. Consider adding a security window film to make the glass more difficult to break. Decorative security film will also add privacy, and can even be used on patio doors. The thicker the film, the more effective it is in preventing glass breakage.
Finally, make it a habit to lock your windows every time you close them, as it’s easy to forget about them when you leave or go to bed.
Today, there are window and door alarms to fit nearly every budget.
Although security alarms don’t block access, they can be a deterrent. Many burglars are scared off when an alarm sounds. You’ll also be alerted if someone does enter your home. Depending on the alarm and service plan you have, it may put in a call to the police as well.
Some would-be burglars avoid homes with a security system sign posted outside. However, many burglars realize people often post signs when they don’t have a security system and that most people often don’t arm their systems. This also goes for doorbell cameras and smart home automation.
Before you purchase security alarms, do your research and get the best you can afford.
Keep your lights on
Make sure all entry points to your home, including windows, are well lit. This serves as a deterrent and also makes braver burglars more visible to you, neighbors or passersby. If you don’t want lights on all the time, install motion lights.
Wall mount solar lights are a very affordable option. You can typically find half a dozen lights for around $25.
Having the lights on indoors also deters burglars by creating the perception someone is home and awake. Leave one or two lights on in the main rooms of your home at night or when you’re away.
More prevention tips
• Don’t hide a key under the doormat, planter or elsewhere.
• Keep shrubs and trees around your home trimmed, particularly near access points, so burglars don’t have a place to hide.
• Install window coverings on all windows and close them at night so burglars can’t see in.
• Keep your car locked at all times. This is very important if you have a garage door opener in your car. Also, make sure the opener isn’t in view.
• Lock the door from your garage to your home. Many burglars are able to access garages that are locked or secured by garage door openers.
What if a burglary occurs when you’re home?
Being prepared is crucial to reducing your risk of being a victim of violence. First, consider ways you can escape your home safely. Once you’ve developed a safety plan and backup plan, practice both so you’re prepared in the event of a burglary.
• Have an escape ladder. Homes that aren’t at ground level pose additional challenges. An escape ladder stored in an easily accessible spot is a worthwhile investment. You can also use it to escape a fire.
• Lock your bedroom door at night. That way you’ll be able to hear if someone tries breaking into your room. Because bedroom door locks are easy to pick, consider installing keyed door knobs.
• Choose a safe room. It can be a closet or bathroom that’s easily accessible, preferably with an escape route. Install a deadbolt on the door and, if possible, keep an extra phone in there. In the event burglars do try to enter the room you’re in, they'll likely realize you’re in there. Tell them “we’ve” called the police, so they don’t think you’re alone.
• Arm yourself. Carefully consider the pros and cons of keeping a weapon near your bed or in your safe area and the type of weapon. (Know that pepper spray has a high incidence of not working. And when it does, the mist can end up in your own eyes.) Most burglars don’t intend to cause harm. But if they feel threatened, things can escalate.
• Sleep with your car keys next to your bed. If you hear a burglar, hit the panic button. Sometimes this will scare off an intruder who fears neighbors will wake.
• Keep your phone near your bed at night and fully charged.
If a burglar is at your door and hasn’t yet gained access to your home, tell him through the locked door that you “and your husband” are home and have already called the police. Then immediately dial 911.
If you think an intruder is already inside your home, you don’t know his intentions. Quietly grab your phone and lock yourself in a room, preferably one with an escape window. Be as quiet as possible and call 911. Give dispatch your address, that way if your call is disrupted, dispatch knows your location. Stay on the phone until dispatch informs you the police have arrived and it’s safe to come out.