(BPT) – In the movies, burglars are smart and prepared, but in real life, most break-ins are committed by thieves looking for a “quick win” — a house or apartment they’ll be able to rob with as little trouble as possible. What better time to strike than when residents are on vacation? It makes sense that 74 percent of burglaries in the U.S. are residential, and most break-ins happen during June, July, and August.
Here are five simple ways to protect your house or apartment from unwanted intruders while you’re enjoying your time off this summer.
“Lock your door” may sound obvious, but the FBI recently calculated that more than 34 percent of burglaries were committed without using force. That means criminals came in through an unlocked door or window and grabbed whatever they wanted. A good deadbolt is a great first line of defense, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t use it. Here are a few tips to make sure you’ve got your bases covered:
* Establish a routine to check locks on windows and doors each night before bed.
* Test each lock to make sure it’s working properly.
* Always use your deadbolt.
* Install a door latch shield around locks to deter crowbars.
“Having a home security system with video is essential because it will alert you if there’s an intrusion or problem in your home, and give you detailed information about what’s happening,” says Ira Weiss, a retired New York Police Department detective. “A security system is not only a strong deterrent to thieves, but if you’re unfortunate enough to experience a burglary, it can provide excellent evidence after the fact.”
You don’t need cameras in every room to stay safe — just make sure you’re covering the main entrances, exits, and other high-traffic areas (e.g. the kitchen), and position your cameras strategically. Many solutions like the Canary home security device even incorporate a camera and other features into the same unit, so you don’t have to set up extra hardware.
Since these all-in-one systems give you a lot of bang for your buck, look for home security that includes:
* Easy setup and use
* An HD camera
* A wide-angle lens
* A siren to frighten away intruders
* Smartphone updates and notifications
* The ability to contact local authorities no matter where you are.
If you know you’re going to be out of town for a while, the people in your community can help keep your home safe.
* Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail every day and stop by your house to make sure everything is fine.
* On garbage day, have a friend take out your trash and recycling for you.
* If you’re gone for more than a week, ask a friend to maintain your lawn and your flowers; high grass makes your home easy prey for burglars.
* Leave a car in your driveway if you can, or better yet, ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re gone.
* If you have a neighborhood watch, let them know the dates of your trip and when to expect you back.
Proper lighting can be a great way to make it look like someone’s home. You can install timers for your interior lights, but it’s just as easy to use smart bulbs and schedule, brighten, and dim them from your smartphone.
Motion-sensitive outdoor lights can also be an excellent deterrent. A vandal-resistant light installed in a high-up area that’s hard to reach can discourage burglars from trespassing on your property.
There are plenty of other easy ways to make your home less enticing to intruders:
* Pick up spare house keys hidden in your car or garage, under a doormat or potted plant, or inside a fake rock.
* Remove your garage door opener from your car.
* Look in your windows from outside to see if any light, portable valuables are out in plain sight.
* Since burglars often hit the bedroom or the living room, hide precious items like jewelry and electronics in the kitchen or your child’s bedroom.
* Use stickers or signs to indicate that you have a home security system.
Don’t let security issues or break-ins ruin your summer fun — worry-proof your home long before you walk out the door. Follow these easy tips, and feel secure enough to enjoy your time away.