Feeling safe in your home should be a given. But every year, there are over one million burglaries in the US that can leave a family feeling vulnerable. You can take steps to help avoid being one of these statistics! If you know how burglars target homes you can take steps to avoid being their next mark.

Read on to learn more about what makes a home a preferred target for burglary, and how you can avoid common security risks.

What Makes Your Home a Target for Burglars?

Having No Security System

Top on the list of how burglars target homes is whether there’s a security system. A house with no security system can be a burglar’s dream. If they get inside, they’ll have all the time in the world to pick through your possessions and leave with the most valuable things they can carry.

It’s not about physically preventing the burglar from entering, though security systems with automation features like remote locks can help with this. It’s about creating a deterrent which makes your house not worth it. A monitored security system means the police will be notified and will arrive much faster,  rarely leaving enough time for a burglar to find something valuable and escape.

Investing in a security system decreases your chances of being targeted significantly. And even in the unlikely event someone does try to enter your home, you’ll be notified along with law enforcement to make sure you’re safe.

Low-Risk Security Systems

Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries happen during the daytime when most homes are empty. Children are at school; adults are at work or running errands. This means low-tech security systems like DIY window or door alarms, while noisy, aren’t always a big deterrent.

If a burglar knows your home has cheap security which isn’t monitored, they may not consider it much of a risk. After all, noisy alarms can’t accomplish much if nobody else is around to react to them. Even if a neighbor a few houses over is home, how many times have you ignored a car alarm going off, assuming it was a mistake instead of a crime?

They’re certainly better than nothing – but an unmonitored alarm system may only be effective at stopping crimes of opportunity. For experienced burglars who case neighborhoods and plan their crimes, they may not be reliable at discouraging theft.

Easy Locations to Hide

The risks of entering your home aren’t the only thing determining whether you may be targeted. Sometimes it’s the difficulty of getting inside in the first place. The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen trying to test your doors or windows!

If you have landscaping pressed up against your home, it may look nice, but these shrubs and trees can be the perfect cover for a burglar. Anything that gives them time to move around or take time opening an entryway without being easily seen from the street makes your home a more likely target.

That’s not to say you can’t have landscaping! But you want to keep them cut clean and minimize areas where bushes may be blocking line-of-sight from windows or doors.

Landscaping isn’t the only potential problem. Garbage cans, parked vehicles like campers and any other object used to break the sightline make burglars more likely to try your home than others.

Identified Value

When imagining how burglars target homes, it’s no surprise the potential value of what’s inside a home comes into play. But how would a burglar identify which homes have the most potential value? There are several ways:

  • Trash & Recycling – Big ticket electronics like TVs, laptops and tablets all have easily identifiable boxes. When you leave these on the curb for pickup, burglars will take note.
  • Social Media Posts – No matter what, never assume your social media is private. Showing off pictures of your new jewelry, gadgets or a stack of cash can quickly make your home a target.
  • Visible Value – Giant bay windows are beautiful, but also give curious passersby an easy look at what might be inside. Anything seen from outside could tempt a burglar who may have otherwise given your home a pass.

Even homes protected by security systems may be targeted if they look valuable enough. The easiest way to avoid this is by closing blinds or curtains and keeping expensive items out of clear view. When online, pay attention to your privacy settings and always remember it only takes one person sharing your photos outside of your own circle for them to spread everywhere else.

Obvious Signs of Vacancy

Because burglars prefer easy targets, an empty home is their favorite. There are two types of empty properties, and experienced burglars can easily identify them:

Vacant Properties

If you own a rental property, vacation home, house for sale or similar property that stays empty for weeks or months, there are often clear signs the house isn’t being used. The most obvious is a lack of care. A vacant property with overgrown lawns or shrubs is easier to spot than a well-maintained one.

When you have a property which isn’t being used regularly, investing in a monitored security system becomes too important to skip. Especially vacation homes which remain furnished but empty for extended periods of time, these homes are easy targets without added protection.

Traveling Homeowners

Whether for business or pleasure, most homeowners will have periods of time where their home is left completely empty. It’s unavoidable! Fortunately, if you’re only gone for a few days or a week, it’s far easier to prevent the signs of vacancy leading a burglar to your doorstep.

Primarily, you’ll want to make sure nothing looks amiss. If you get regular mail to your mailbox, have it stopped. Newspapers? Ask for a neighbor to bring them in or have them stopped as well. In the warmer months, mow your lawn before you leave. If it’s winter, look for options to have your driveway cleared while you’re away.

However, the most effective deterrent is to simulate activity in the home. Home automation systems let you control lights directly, versus timers that can be potentially tracked by astute criminals. These look more natural, don’t need to be left on nearly as often, and can fool home invaders into thinking someone is housesitting, even if they recognize a decrease in people coming and going from the home.

Unsecured Entrances

Lastly, the biggest risk (and one of the most overlooked home security steps) is simply leaving doors or windows unlocked. A surprising number of burglaries start with the simple opening of a door or window.

Leaving entrances unlocked can be accidental or for convenience. When it’s an accident, it’s likely not to be a major issue. But if you habitually leave doors or windows unlocked when you leave your home, you’re inviting opportunistic criminals into your home.

Burglars can casually walk through quiet neighborhoods during the day and test doors quickly. If they’re locked, they move on. If not, they’ll see what they can grab in a few seconds or minutes and move on. These types of crimes are common – in fact, over 30 percent of burglaries start with the burglar walking through the front door!

Fortunately, home automation can help on those hasty mornings where you get to work and wonder “did I leave the door unlocked?” A few taps on your phone can let you check if your doors are closed and locked – and if they aren’t, you can remotely lock them and go on with your day!

Like many things in life, the simplest things are often the most effective. Ensuring you make it a habit to lock your home when you leave goes a long way to prevent common theft.

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