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Written by: Bill Herren
Burglary is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as “the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.” According to the most recent statistics, 22.3 percent of all property crimes are due to burglary, making it second only to larceny-theft. When burglars target a home, two common routes of breaking in are the doors and windows. While there is no prevention method that is 100 percent foolproof, there are fortunately a variety of security techniques that can make it more difficult. For criminals, a home that is difficult to break into is often a less desirable target. The most reliable means of preventing burglaries involves preventing unauthorized access through the windows and doors of one’s home.
Doors at all entrances should be made of hardwood or metal and be at least 1.75 inches thick. They should have deadbolt locks with throw bolts that are no less than one inch long. A strike plate will make the door resistant to someone kicking it in. These should be secured to the door frame with screws that are at least three inches long. Door hinges should be hidden by opening inward, and the hinge screws should also be at least three inches so that thieves cannot lift the door off of them. Garage doors are also potential weaknesses thieves can exploit in order to gain entry to a home. Leaving a garage door opener inside a car is a serious risk because if someone breaks into the car they can take the garage opener to get into the house. It is better to keep the garage opener on a keychain. Garage door windows should also be covered to prevent thieves from seeing inside. No door should be left open in a house that isn’t being tended to. For example, the front door should never be left open if someone isn’t around the front porch, nor should the rear door when someone isn’t around the patio.
At night, all windows should have their drapes or blinds drawn, or otherwise be covered to prevent observation from outside. Residents should also trim tree limbs and put ladders away when not in use so that burglars cannot use them to access second story windows. Plants with thorns, such as rose bushes, can deter burglars from entering through windows. They should be planted flush against the wall so that a thief cannot wedge themselves between the bush and the house. Install locks on any window that can be opened, such as sliding windows. Security bars can also prevent burglars from breaking windows, although residents should still be able to open the window from the inside to escape in the event of a fire.
In addition to securing doors and windows, there are other security tactics and strategies that homeowners can use to protect their property from burglary. Because newspapers sitting at the door tell thieves that nobody is home, they should either be collected daily or delivery should be canceled when the residents are going to be away for an extended period of time. Lighting is also a key tool in the defense of a home. Motion sensor lighting is an eco-friendly security system that turns lights on only when someone is moving around close by the house. Programmable light timers can turn house lights on and off according to a schedule, giving the illusion that the property is currently occupied. A good relationship with one’s neighbors is another good security measure, as one can leave backup keys with neighbors rather than in some hidden place around the home. Also, people living next door can help with collecting mail, cutting lawns, or shoveling snow so that the home doesn’t look like no one has been there for a long time.
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