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Improving Your Home Security and Reducing the Risk of Burglary

Burglar opening a door latch

million burglaries on average occur in the US each year according to the Department of Justice (1)

Whether you're gone on vacation, for the weekend, or even just for the day, it’s important to be prepared and know how to protect your home from invasion when you’re away. Here are some of the best ways based on Master Lock’s extensive experience to improve your home security and help mitigate the risks of burglary.

Let your trusted neighbors know you’re gone

Burglars don’t like nosy neighbors, especially those willing to question strangers when you are not home. Be sure to let your neighbors know when you will be gone so they can watch for any unusual activity at your home and get in touch if they see anything suspicious. While you’re away, have your neighbors take care of things such as getting the mail, bringing packages inside, and moving garbage cans. 

Make your home look occupied

If someone is going to break into your home, it’s less likely to be when you are there. When you leave, take steps to make your home appear occupied. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use motion-sensitive lights on a timer and/or set at normal intervals
  • Leave a car parked in your driveway
  • Close curtains and blinds and leave some lights on
  • Put mail, newspaper and package delivery on hold
  • Have someone manage landscaping and snow removal
  • Install a doorbell or security camera with notifications

Secure doors and windows

Believe it or not, many burglars gain access to your home simply by walking through an open door or climbing in an open window. It’s important to lock external windows and doors with deadbolt locks before leaving your house. For sliding glass doors, look for a security lock that can prevent it from being forced open from the outside, like a door bar. This is one of the best ways to secure a door from the inside. 

Look for signs of forced entry

When you return home, look for signs that your lock has been tampered with or any signs of forced entry. This could include drill holes around a deadbolt, broken locks, or marks around your doors or windows. If a lock has been tampered with there’s often evidence of uneven paint or loose screws, or warped window frames or doors. If you suspect that someone has entered your home, call the police immediately.

Consider a home security system

Burglars are typically drawn to homes that do not have home security systems. A security system can act as a deterrent for burglars attempting to break-in - be sure to post signs in your yard and windows. Choose a system that includes a camera or consider getting a doorbell camera to alert you and capture footage of any intruders to share with police.

Past studies by the Justice Department revealed that burglaries that happen when no one is home are more likely to occur during the day.
Shannan Catalano, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistician (2)
M175 Padlock Attached to Grill
Master lock padlock secured to a chest

Keep valuables in a safe

Store any valuables that you are leaving behind in a safe, keeping in mind that property with high resale value isn’t the only thing that’s commonly stolen. Household items that can be transported quickly, easily and with little trace of the burglar are targeted, too:

  • Purses, wallets, credit cards
  • Cash
  • Electronics
  • Personal items like jewelry, documents, photo books
  • Firearms

Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.0 billion in property losses in 2019. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,661.3 If you don’t currently own a safe, it may be a worthwhile investment for peace of mind. Many safes are water and fireproof so they can also protect your valuables during natural disasters, home fires and floods. Find a safe that’s right for you.

Keep your plans off social media

Everyone loves to share exciting vacation plans and photos. But it’s important to make sure all family members avoid posting your vacation or travel plans on social media sites. This lets potential thieves know exactly when your house will be vacant. If you want to share about your travels, consider posting after you return home.

Lock up outside valuables

As the winter gets colder it’s also a good idea to secure items such as bikes, patio furniture and sheds that aren’t being used as frequently – especially if you are planning on going away. A padlock can help secure ladders or tools and a cable lock or u-lock for bike security can provide peace of mind knowing your big-ticket items are secure when you are not around. For sheds and storage, a disc padlock is a great option to consider.

Everyone thinks that it won’t happen to them, but no matter where you live, you are at risk for burglary. It’s essential to have a plan in place and the tools you need to keep your home and valuables safe.


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