Homeowners can stop most Residential Break and Enters (B & E). B & E offences are executed mostly by naive criminals who seize immediate opportunities. Unfortunately, opportunities provided by homeowners themselves.
Specific things (opportunities) the potential offender looks for:
1) Homes which appear unoccupied (i.e. Owner/renter on vacation) – lawns not mowed, newspapers piled at the front door, mail accumulation, no lights at times (usually night) when a family might be expected to be at home;
2) Homes and neighborhoods where the owners/renters appears to be at work – mail in mailbox, packages at door, advertising flyers left at front door. A simple act of ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door can confirm this;
3) Homes in upscale neighborhoods (more to steal);
4) Open garages (entry point to the house, place to hide or steal contents);
5) An easy method of entry offering concealment – fenced-in or hedged back yards, rear or side doors/windows completely or partially shielded from view by fences, screened patios, shrubs, sheds, basement window wells;
6) Easy entry points – unlocked doors/windows, easy-to-open doors/windows (sliding windows or patio doors that can be lifted out of their tracks), breakable glass in or near doors that could allow door to be unlocked, doors that can easily be forced open using a foot, plastic card, crowbar or chisel (poor quality locks or poor installation).
Here are 10 ways to Target Harden your Dwelling whether you are away for the day or for a lengthy trip:
1) Create Light and Sound. Use automated timers for your lights inside and motion detector lighting outside your house. New timers have a random on/off time and battery backup in case of power outages. Make it look like your house is occupied both during the day as well as at night. Attach lights and radios to these timers.
2) Leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbor so they can check, at least every 48 hours, on your home. Some home insurance policies stipulate such regular checks of your home or you void your insurance coverage. Consider a house sitter.
3) Create that lived-in look. For lengthy trips away from home, have a neighbor park a car in your driveway, keep your front door clear of newspapers/brochures and mow grass/remove snow.
4) Ensure all windows, all doors and all garage doors are locked. Disconnect power to automatic garage doors. Proper dead bolt, hinge, lock, latch and door frame installation is important to ensure doorways and windows cannot be pried open, spread apart or screws removed to allow easier forced entry into your home. Change locks on new homes or if your key has been lost. If they want in make breaking glass the only option for a criminal. Glass can be hardened, especially in and near doors, with tempered and special break-proof laminates. Use steel solid exterior doors only. Install through-door viewers to ensure you can see who in at your door before you open it. Video surveillance cameras connected to your PC and also your PDA are now reasonably priced.
5) Install an alarm system that wails loudly when tripped. Just like the flashing alarm light in your automobile, have a similar visible indicator in your front and back windows. Make potential intruders know that you have a burglar alarm system.
6) Install bars or grill work in your basement windows (these can be opened from inside in case of fire). A window well provides a convenient place for a would-be thief to take lots of time to enter your home through the basement.
7) Don’t leave your garage door opener in your car when you are at work. If a thief breaks into your automobile they know your home address from your vehicle permit. If you leave your garage door opener in the vehicle, they now also have easy access to your home, while you are at work.
8) Document your possessions. Take Photos and/or Videotape all your valuables. Every year video your entire home, belongings and property. Record serial numbers on large valuables. Store all this information off-site. You now have a record of all your property incase of theft or fire.
9) Register and mark valuables through Operation Identification (contact your local Police). Obtain an engraver from your Community Police Office or buy one. Etch or engrave your driver’s license number (not SSN or SIN) on valuables. If stolen and later found, Police can check with Motor Vehicles for your name and address. Keep minimum cash and valuables in your home. Secure valuables off-site (bank safety deposit box).
10) Maintain a good neighbor community. Organize a Neighborhood Watch. Look out for each other. That snoopy neighbor can be a perfect burglar alarm system.
Your home and property are part of a community and neighborhood. There is always strength in numbers. Expand your home security network. Work to have your community burglar unfriendly. Clearly let the bad guys know, “Go Somewhere Else”!