Have you ever been locked out of your home? Were you able to get in anyway? Now think about it...if you could break into your own home, it's just as easy for someone else to break in, too. One out of 10 homes will be burglarized this year across the country, and many intruders will spend no more than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. The best prediction of a future burglary is a past burglary. Therefore, it is important to take preventative measures now. Strong locks—and good neighbors who look out for one another—can be effective deterrents to burglars. Here are a few tips that can help you keep you—and your property—safe and secure.
Check your locks
- Make sure every external door has a strong, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough. "A deadbolt should be installed on every exterior entry door, and the bolt should have a throw of at least one inch. Insurance companies and locksmiths recommend Grade 1 or Grade 2 American National Standards Institute deadbolt locks on exterior entryways. The two main types of deadbolts are single and double cylinder locks. A single cylinder deadbolt has a keyed opening on one side and a knob that can be turned by hand on the other. A double cylinder deadbolt lock is keyed on both sides.
- Sliding glass doors offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door or by installing commercially available locks. To prevent the door being lifted off of the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" your windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. You should secure basement windows with grilles or grates (but make sure that they can be opened from the inside in case of fire).
- A heavy duty strike plate installed in place of a regular strike plate helps strengthen door frames and reinforce the lock. A strike plate is the jamb fastening that receives the bolt in the locking position. The heavy duty plate uses four to six 3-inch wood screws.
- Never hide keys around the outside of your home. Instead, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
Check your doors
While we all like to feel that once we close and lock our doors, we’re safe and secure, the truth of the matter is that a lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down with your wallet on the front seat.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so that you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break easily and don’t keep out intruders.
Check the outside
Take a look at your home from the outside, and keep in mind the following tips to help make your home as safe as it can be:
- Burglars hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night. Motion-detector lights can be particularly effective.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune shrubbery so it doesn’t hide windows or doors. Cut back tree limbs that a burglar could use to climb to an upper-level window.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you are at home by getting timers that will turn lights (and perhaps a television or radio) on and off in different parts of your home throughout the day and evening hours. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And make sure you don’t let your mail and/or newspapers pile up. Call the post office and newspaper to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick them up.
Residential alarms systems do not substitute for locked doors and windows. Consider installing an alarm system if you live in a high crime or isolated area, or are absent from home for considerable periods of time and if you have valuable possessions. The purpose of an alarm system is to deter potential intruders.
Video doorbells let you answer your door from anywhere with your smartphone. Smart Doorbell Buyers Guide
What if I live in an apartment?
While apartment living is a little different from living in a single family home, there are still some additional things that you can do to make sure that you, your loved ones, and your property remain safe and secure.
- Never let anyone you don’t know into your building or past security doors.
- Check the complex on a regular basis for problems such as burned-out light bulbs, dark corridors, uncollected trash, or broken locks on mailboxes and doors. Report any such problems to the building manager. Keep pressure on management to make sure it provides adequate security.
- If your complex has an underground parking garage, ensure the garage door fully closed and no one who is not authorized to be there has entered.
Always relay concerns regarding the property or other tenants to property management.
Register your valuables
Register your valuables, such as electronics and jewelry with the city's free property registration program, My Property.
Take pictures of the items, list their serial numbers and description. This will help police if your home is burglarized.
Always report suspicious activity immediately by calling 701.235.4493 or 911 if a crime is in progress.