Ways to Prevent a Burglary to Your Home or Business – Advice From an Insurance Investigator #148


Over the past several years I have worked numerous insurance files associated with home burglaries and I wanted to share different ways to prevent a burglary to your home or business in the article. A theft to someone’s home is a traumatic experience for those affected by it.  Some thefts are brief and are done within a short time period with only small amounts of personal belongings taken.  While others are extensive burglaries over long periods of time with large amounts stolen from a residence.  No matter how big or small of a theft, it traumatizes people that live in the home.

With each interview and investigation I have conducted I have learned more about home burglaries.  I have learned mostly what homeowners are doing and not doing which contributes to opportunities for thieves.  I thought it would be helpful for homeowners and those involved in home security to pass on this list of tips and ideas to prevent home burglaries.  I also came across some additional information that I found very helpful which will be shared in this article.

What Homes Did Not Have Prior to Home Burglaries

They Did Not Have Video Cameras in Their Homes or Business

All homes and businesses I have conducted investigations on relating to burglaries have not had video cameras on the exterior or interior of their buildings.  And by the time I interviewed the some of the homeowners they had already installed cameras on the exterior of their home.

Video cameras don’t necessarily stop home burglaries but they can be a deterrent for burglars.  It may make them think twice if there is a chance that they would be identified by video cameras.

There are many affordable video camera systems on the market connected to home security systems and those that are independent of security systems.  Here are some video camera systems I would recommend taking a look at.

ARLO

A friend of mine has been using the Arlo Security Camera System.  His cameras are wireless and motion activated.  Any time he has activity on his cameras he is alerted by an app on his phone and he can view the activity from his phone.  His cameras are wireless and he uses rechargeable batteries for his cameras. His cameras last approximately 3 months before the batteries need to be changed.  The amount of time the batteries last on his cameras depend on the sensitivity of the motion detection and how much activity his cameras pick up.  Amazon has the system setup if you are interested in purchasing it.  I have known Best Buy and possibly Costco to carry it as well.

RING

I recently purchased a Ring Stick Up Camera to add to the security of my home.  I didn’t know what to make of the Ring company but I decided to purchase the stick up camera to see how it worked as their commercials were a compelling reason to purchase one.

The Ring Stick Up Camera works much like the Arlo Camera System except that there is a microphone in the camera.  I am able to speak to anyone (and hear them) if they are near the camera. It is a wireless camera and the battery can last over 6 months depending on the amount activity the camera picks up on it’s motion detection.  I will be doing a review on this camera and it will be a positive review.  I purchased it for almost $200 but as I write this it is listed for $179.00 on Amazon.

Comcast Camera System 

Comcast also has a camera system with their security system which I have known victims of burglaries to purchase after thefts have occurred to their homes.  These camera systems use to only record after the alarm had been set off but they can now record 24/7.  You can also view video cameras from the home security system live on Comcast home security app.  I don’t believe you can get the cameras without the system.

They Did Not Have an Alarm System

Every home I have gone to to investigate a claim has either not had an alarm system or did not activate the alarm system prior to leaving.  And nearly every house that I came to that had been burglarized had an alarm system after the burglary to help prevent a burglary in the future.

I believe an alarm system is a fantastic deterrent to keep potential burglars from targeting your home.  Having as many stickers and signs posted showing that you have an alarm system will likely lessen the chance of you being singled out.

Alarm systems these days are more than a loud alarm and a central system being notified. Alarm systems now allow for the owners to track when doors are opened closed as well as when an alarm has been activated or deactivated. You can now even monitor some alarm system video cameras from your cell phone.

Comcast Security System

As previously stated Comcast has a security system that can be monitored from your phone and can be activated and deactivated from your phone.  It might require a contract for the system so be prepared for that.

ADT

ADT is one of those security system companies that have been around for a long time.  I have visited burglaries where ADT was the security company however the alarm did not activate when the location was burglarized. I have heard mixed reviews about ADT but they are always an option.

SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security System

I have seen this security system advertised quite a bit over the years.  This is a security system that you can implement yourself and have it monitored for around $15 a month which is relatively inexpensive.  This is something I might go to in the future.  I am not a big fan of paying a great deal of money each month for a security system.

The Home Didn’t Have a Dog

Every single home burglary claim I have investigated the homeowner did not have a dog on the property.  The one homeowner that had a dog at their home when they were burglarized had it in a kennel.  The dog was small and not likely a threat.

I would recommend having a dog not only as a pet and member of the family but as a deterrent for burglars.  My dogs bark at anyone that walks around my property and alerts me to take a look around.

A barking dog will give pause to any potential burglar entering your yard.

My neighbor use to apologize for his dogs barking at night when he would let them outside.  His dogs only barked when someone was walking around in the neighborhood. I loved that his dogs would bark.

Here is a list dog rescues should you be looking for a new family member and someone to bark at the strangers.

 

Ways to Prevent a Burglary to Your Home
Me and Amber (Foster dog I am adopting)

They Didn’t Have Neighboring Homes

Some homes don’t have a neighbor’s yard connecting to their yard.  When I lived in California the house we grew up in had neighbors on both sides and behind our home.

When I moved to Washington I found that many homes in Seattle and Tacoma had back alley ways that went behind homes.  These alley ways give criminals opportunities to peek in the back yards of home owners.  It also allowed for criminals to access someone’s back yard unnoticed.

Many of the homes I had been to after a burglary did not have a neighbor behind their home.  The areas behind their homes were accessible to the general public.  This is not something you can always do something about but having visible cameras and a dog (as previously stated) can help with this.

They Didn’t Turn on Their Alarm System

Most businesses turn on alarms when they close and leave a business but homeowners don’t always turn on the alarm.  There were some burglaries where the homeowner had an alarm but just failed to turn it on when they left their home.

What They Did That May Have Contributed to the Burglaries

They Posted on Social Media While They Were Away

Ways to Prevent a Burglary to Your Home

One of the biggest mistakes people make is posting on social media that they are away from their homes.   Posting on social media lets any potential burglar know that your home is empty.  A marginal associate on your Facebook friend list may use the information of you being gone to burglarize your home.

You might think that no one on your friend list would take advantage of knowing you were away from your home but I can assure that it happens.

I would also recommend placing your Facebook profile on private so only your friends can see activity on your Facebook page.

I would highly recommend saving all of you vacation posts for after you return home from your vacation or getaway.

They Sold Items Frequently on Craigslist or Similar Websites

A question that I ask anyone that has been burglarized is whether they have sold anything on Craigslist or a Craigslist type websites.  Though I have never been able to directly connect selling on Craigslist to home thefts, the majority of victims I have spoken to over the years have been a part of selling items on Craigslist.

I find Craigslist to be a very shady site though I am sure many people would argue that there is nothing wrong with the site and how they have never had any problems with Craigslist.  Just be very careful with your dealings on that website.

Additional Ways to Prevent a Burglary to Your Home

Making your House Look Occupied

Making a potential thief believe your house is occupied is a wonderful deterrent.  This might include the following:

1.  Don’t Have Packages Delivered to Your Home When You Are Away

Having packages pile up on your porch lets would be thieves know that you are not home. If you are having packages delivered make sure someone you know is picking it up for you.  On that same note make sure someone is getting your mail so it doesn’t pop out of the mailbox.

 Whenever my family and I are away on a vacation or even a one or two night getaway my neighbors all know that I am gone because I let them know before we leave.  My neighbors then know to pay special attention to any activity at my home.

We also have family members come to our home to feed the pets.

2.  Have Motion Lights on Your Property

Motion lights only turn on with there is activity in the area of the light.  I am a big fan of this type of lighting and so are my neighbors and it lets me know when there has been movement on my property or my neighbors property. And since we look out for each other we typically investigate any lighting that turns on unexpectedly at night. Sometimes the activity is related to raccoons and sometimes the activity is related to people that don’t belong in the area.

3.  Leaving Lights On

We do leave some lights on when we leave.  And when family members drop by they switch up the lights to make it look different.  I believe leaving lights on in the home makes a potential burglar think twice.

4.  Leaving the Radio on in Your Home

Noise in a home will create doubt for a burglar.  Leave a radio on in the kitchen or wherever you prefer to provide some sound activity in your home.

5.  Use Timers for the Lights in Your Home

If you don’t have friends that can come by to turn on and off lights then having timers might do the trick for you to make it look as though someone is home at night.  Timers are inexpensive and work well.

6.  Use a Fake Television Light

I have one and have used it.  A fake television light shines on your blinds or window covering to give appearance that a television is on.  It is quite brilliant.  It really does give the appearance that someone is home watching television.

Make it More Difficult to Break in Your Home

Making it harder to break in your home might be another deterrent.  Here are some easy recommendations to make it a bit harder to break in your home.

1.  Put broom sticks in all windows

I went to home depot and purchased a few wooden hanger poles and then sawed them to fit all the  windows that didn’t have a second lock on them.

Stick in Window home security

2.  Purchase  windows with window blockers

When we purchased our home we had really old windows.  When we had enough money we replaced our windows with Champion Windows.  The windows all had window opening blockers on them that prevented the window from opening completely so it would be difficult for someone to try and fit through the window.  It is a nice second security feature on windows.

Ways to prevent a burglary to your home

 

3.  Make sure your doors are always locked

I think it is safe to say there are not too many neighborhoods these days where it is safe to leave doors unlocked.  I can certainly say I don’t think I have ever lived in a neighborhood or area where I would ever feel comfortable doing that.  So when you leave your home make sure you double check all the locks to make sure they are locked.

4.  Use double keyed deadbolts

Double key deadbolts in my opinion shouldn’t be used on all doors. I would use them on doors with large windows to make it harder for someone to just break the window and unlock the door.  French doors with glass are easy to gain access to just by break the glass.  I have witness this first hand at a break in location.

With that being said I would also recommend always leaving a key in the deadbolt unless you are out of town. Many people believe that if a fire was to occur in a home with these types of locks it might provide a potential safety hazard as people in panic might not be able to find the key to open the door.

5.  Use an Adjustable Door Security Bar

A door jammer can be purchased on Amazon or even a Home Depot.  This adjustable bar is placed at an angle under your door handle and rests on the floor. If the door is opened the bar wedged under the handle doesn’t allow the door to open.

This is typically used for back door and side doors of residences.  It gives some extra piece of mind that your door is secure and can’t be forced open.  I have purchased one recently from Home Depot but is sold a little cheaper on Amazon.com.

 

What Other Sites Have Mentioned on Ways to Prevent a Burglary to your Home

One specific news report I found fascinating had responses from over 80 criminals regarding what thieves look for when breaking into a home and what they avoided.  There was also a ride along video with a former burglar who shared what he looked for when looking for a home to break into.  The video is below.

1.  Keep shrubs cut and don’t block the view of your residence

The more things blocking the view of your residence from the public the easier it is for someone to access your residence unnoticed.  Many people want to block all view of their residence for privacy, but burglars want privacy too.

2.  Radios, video cameras, big dogs, and vehicles in driveways are all potential deterrents.

The name of the game is creating an environment that makes it appear that your home is occupied and that there is a potential for the burglar to get caught.


Conclusion

I think the reality with home break ins is that if someone really wants to get in your home they will get in your home.  Home invasions happen all too frequently these days with doors being kicked in even when the homeowner is still in the home.

But all the above mentioned tips, devices and the break-ins I have observed should provide you with more than enough ways to protect your home from a burglary.

If you have some tips that have not been addressed be sure to share them in the comments and I will consider adding them to the article.

Andrew