From 1973 through 2009, the rate of burglary has steadily declined, whether this decline is due to an increase in technology or is due to an increase in the vigilance of law enforcement is unsure. Regardless of the reason for the decline in burglary incidences, one thing is for sure, as the years have progressed the technology available to deter burglary has certainly improved and assisted in the decline of burglary rates. There are a number of things that the average homeowner can do to reduce the likelihood of their homes being burglarized that do not include the installation of a burglar alarm system.
What is Burglary?
While most of us understand the basic concept of burglary, not many of us understand the specifics of what defines burglary or that there are actually four classifications of burglary. So what is burglary in its basic definition? Burglary is the unlawful entry to a structure and it does not always involve theft but may sometimes. The important thing to remember about burglary is that it involves the entrance of a structure by an individual who is not authorized to enter said structure. While burglary for some is synonymous with breaking in to a structure, it can also include entering in to a structure through an unlocked or open door or window so long as the individual has no right to be within the structure.
The Four Types of Burglary
There are four types of burglary: completed burglary, forcible entry, unlawful entry without force and attempted forcible entry. All of these types of burglary involve legal ramifications.
Completed burglary takes place when an individual is not permitted to be in a structure by legal right, yet they succeed in gaining entry to said structure by the use of force or without the use of force.
Forcible entry takes place when an individual that is not permitted to be in a structure by legal right, enters said structure by the use of force. Force can be classified in a various number of ways including breaking a lock from the door, breaking a window or slashing a door or window screen.
Unlawful Entry without Force
Unlawful entry without force takes place when an individual that is not permitted to be in a structure by legal right, enters said structure without the use of force. This type of burglary can involve entering a home through an open or unlocked door or window.
Attempted Forcible Entry
Attempted forcible entry takes place when an individual that is not permitted to be in a structure by legal right, attempts to enter said structure by force. Since this is attempted forcible entry it does not involve the actual entry in to the structure. This type of burglary can involve the burglar trying but not succeeding in their burglary attempt or being caught during the act of trying to obtain forcible entry.
The Impact of Property Crime
Regardless of whether or not a burglar succeeds in their burglary attempt, there are still impacts of all four types of property crime. Anyone who has experienced burglary first hand can tell of the immense impact that this property crime had upon them. One of the most devastating impacts that property crime has on its victims is the feeling of violation. Having a complete stranger target your home for burglary is just the first step of that violation, when personal property is destroyed or vandalized in an attempt to gain entry that too leaves a feeling of being violated. A burglar certainly takes no care when rummaging through personal possessions and this is perhaps one of the most devastating aspects of a successful burglary for the homeowner. So what can be done to decrease the incidence of property crime?
Ways in Which You Can Decrease the Potential for Experiencing Property Crime
One of the most important things that someone can do to decrease the chance of experiencing property crime is the installation of security technology such as a burglar alarm system or security cameras. With these technological methods aside, there are still a number of other things that can be done to decrease the chance that a home will be targeted by a burglar.
Avoid Mentioning Travel Plans Online
Whether it’s your children talking about an upcoming vacation or whether it’s you talking to a friend in the post office about an upcoming business trip, mentioning travel on or in public forums is dangerous. In these types of situations anyone could overhear the fact that the home is going to stand empty for a few days and this is an invitation to prospective thieves to target your home. One of the most difficult things for children to understand is that when they mention outings innocently on their social networking pages, they are inviting the entire world in to burglarize their home while they are out.
Deadbolts make burglary difficult and burglars don’t like difficult. The longer a burglar spends in your home, the higher the chances are that he or she will be caught in the act. Deadbolts on doors make your home a more difficult target to break in to, but it is important to purchase high quality locks to ensure that they are not easily compromised. Locks for exterior doors of the home should be grade one or grade two locks, these locks are more likely to resist a burglar’s lock picking attempts and are less likely to give in to tampering. Good quality deadbolts will also have a beveled casing that will reduce the likelihood of the lock being compromised by channel lock pliers that are used with other lock types to sheer off the cylinder pins in the lock. Visit our Best Door Locks article to find the best lock for your home. Or, if you are into more high-tech options, check out our best smart locks and best digital door locks articles.
Dog ownership has long been a cited method of maintaining a safe home and deterring against burglars. When given a chance to burglarize a home at random, burglars are much more likely to target a home that does not have a dog rather than a home that does have a dog. Large dogs are intimidating because of their appearance and pitch of their bark, but even a small dog can be effective in warding off intruders. It should be noted that while having a dog in the home is an additional measure to guarding against burglary, it should never be the sole reason for owning a dog. Dogs require upkeep and companionship so unless a family is prepared to take on a long term responsibility which involves bringing another family member in to the home, this should not be considered as a method of deterring burglars.
Home safes are one of the most important steps that homeowners can secure important documents and priceless possessions. While taking home security prevention methods is a great way to protect the home against burglary, there is no assurance that a burglar will not somehow find a way to enter your home. All it takes is for one family member to forget to lock a door and all of the home security efforts in the world would not make a difference. While safes may seem clunky and inconvenient, they are the only way to ensure that important documents and possessions have an additional degree of protection from home invaders. Once inside your home, burglars want to take valuables and leave in minutes; this leaves no time for breaking in to a safe. To see what safes we recommend, check out our best home safes or best fireproof safes articles.
Home Security System
The simplest, most effective action you can take to prevent future burglaries and protect your family is to install a monitored home security system. Security systems alert you when an intruder enters your home, and they have loud alarms which tend to scare intruders away before they can do any real damage. These systems, if monitored, also notify local authorities so they can investigate the reason the alarm was activated. Read our Best Home Security System article to see what might be the best fit for your specific needs and budget.
Keep a Record of Valuable Personal Property
Homeowners and home renters should always carry a degree of insurance to help to protect them against any losses that may occur as the result of a disaster or theft. Most companies that provide this type of insurance prompt their customers to always keep a note of personal property that they consider to be valuable. This practice ensures that if your home does become the target of a thief and any valuable property is lost that it can be identified by police if found and the homeowner can be compensated under their insurance policy. While keeping a note of valuable personal property is not a deterrent method for burglars, it is a step that homeowners should take in order to protect themselves should a burglary occur.
Maintain a Well Lit Property
By the nature of burglary, light is counterintuitive. Burglars do not work in well lit areas because the chance of being caught is much higher than working in the dark. Making sure that outdoor lighting is always functioning well is a key aspect of maintaining a safe property, Having a well lit front porch means nothing if the back side of a house is not lit at all, perform a full audit tonight to determine the areas of your property that need lit. To see recommendations for the best security lights for outside your home, go here.
Monitor Mail and Newspaper Delivery
The presence of mail or newspaper buildup is a huge tipoff to burglars. Place a hold on mail delivery or have a trusted neighbor collect mail if you are going to be away for an extended period. Keep in mind that burglary is not the only concern when it comes to mail. All of those credit card offers and other secure information can be used for identity theft in the wrong hands. Consider a locked mailbox to prevent identity theft.
Living in a neighborhood that enforces neighborhood watch is another good way to promote safety, not only for the individual homeowner, but also to develop a safe neighborhood. A successful neighborhood watch is one that involves an entire community of vigilant neighbors who work together to enforce a safe community for each of its members. While it is rarely something that individuals take in to account when moving in to a new home or neighborhood, this type of cooperation is a key factor in discouraging criminal activity of all sorts.
All homes, regardless of their income level, should make use of a paper shredder in order to keep personal information hidden and avoid having their identities stolen. For those homes with a significant amount of income, utilizing a paper shredder is even more important because burglars are always going to target homes where they feel that they can gain the most from the least amount of effort. Placing un-shredded items in the trash is not only a method for giving away personal information and increasing the opportunity for identity theft to take place, but it is also a method for burglars to find out whether or not a home is worth the effort of being burglarized. Check out our recommendations for the best paper shredders.
Secure Sliding Doors
Sliding doors are a particularly easy way for home invaders to get access to your home because they are rarely fitted with secure locks or other security mechanisms. One affordable means of securing a sliding French door is to place a curtain rod in the sliding track to prevent the door from being slid open at any point. While many home security stores sell more advanced products, most people find that this simple and affordable technique works just as well.
Timing devices may seem like a rather old method for deterring burglars, but it is a method that has proven successful. So successful in fact that it is a tool that has been built upon as time has progressed. Timing devices are a great tool to implement in the home whether or not the homeowner is on vacation because they switch on lighting or technology within the home even when no one is home. One of the best methods for implementing timing devices is to plug them in and program them for normal times of activity when the family is out of town. By setting timers to turn on lights, turn down blinds, and to turn on radios or televisions is a way to give the impression that the normal daily routine is in progress even when no one is home and this itself is enough to turn potential burglars away. Timers also serve to make a safer home for those living alone or living with spouses who are frequently out of town or not at home during specific hours. Coming home to a dark house is not only scary but it can also be particularly dangerous specifically for women living alone, setting up timing devices allows for a safer atmosphere when returning home at dusk or dark.
Utilize the Garage
Burglars often observe properties that they are planning on burglarizing to try to establish a pattern of when the home is active and when it is empty. For homes that have garages, one of the most important things that a homeowner can do is to always keep the car inside the garage. When homeowners do not utilize garage space, they leave their car out in the open where it can be observed by passersby which means that it is particularly easy for burglars to observe when there is and is not someone home.
Final Thoughts and Tips
We have just discussed what to do after a break in and a few small, proactive steps that can help you prevent future ones. The most important tips to remember are:
- Always keep all doors and windows locked.
- Install a home security system as soon as possible. See our top recommendations by visiting our Best Home Security Systems page.
- Hopefully, you will never experience a home invasion, but if it does happen, call the police and keep your family out of harm’s way.