You think it could never happen to you. You live in a safe neighborhood, you know your neighbors, and you're always prepared before you leave for vacation. And yet, the unthinkable has happened—you have been the victim of a home invasion.
It happens more often than you may think. Research shows that more than 2 million homeowners are victims of home invasion each year, and while the items thieves steal have monetary value, the keepsakes and heirlooms that are damaged or taken are truly priceless. No one knows when a home invasion will occur and completely protecting your home from one is nearly impossible. However, there are seven fundamental steps you can take to increase your overall home security and prevent such a crime from happening to you.
Maintain Your Property
Since criminals look for easy targets, having your home look lived-in will make burglars less likely to target it. Taking care of your home's outside appearance conveys that you are home and that you take pride in your stuff. Maintaining your yard also removes overgrown bushes and trees, which burglars use for cover when lurking.
Be Aware of the Information You Share
Facebook and other social media sites have become a haven for criminals looking to find people posting pictures of their far-off vacation. To reduce your risk, avoid posting dates for your expected departure or return, and save your picture-posting until you return. Let criminals learn about your amazing trip after you're already back.
Arm Your Security System
If you have a security system, it may seem like common sense to arm it before you leave, but many folks forget to do so. Get in the habit of turning on your security system every time you leave the house, even if you only plan to be gone for five minutes, as that's still plenty of time for a criminal to break into your home. It's also important to display your security system's sign in the front yard prominently, as the sign alone has been proven to dissuade criminals from trying to break into a home.
Lock It Up Tight
Almost one-third of all burglaries take place because criminals enter the home through an unlocked door or window. Don't make it easy for them. Lock all of your doors and windows before you leave the home and your home will be a less desirable target.
Don't Showcase Big Purchases
If you just bought a large flat-screen television, new computer, or some other expensive item, don't showcase this for would-be criminals to see. Start by breaking down the boxes and putting them deep in your recycle bin. Then make sure to close the curtains around windows where such items may be visible.
Shed Light on the Situation
Motion-sensor lights can give your home a lived-in appearance even when it isn't, and new technology allows you to vary the programming to make the lighting schedule less formulaic.
Ditch the Spare Key
Locking yourself out of your home can be frustrating, but hiding your spare key in an obvious place like under the welcome mat or in the mailbox can lead to bigger problems. Instead of hiding your spare key on your property, give it to your neighbor, nearby family, or a friend. The security you gain from this preventive measure will be worth the extra step.
Any of these tips can make your home less appealing to criminals, but combining them all together gives you the best chance to protect your most valuable items.