When it comes to protecting your family, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that your home is secure. Burglary is a common crime that you can help prevent by taking certain security measures. When your house is burglarized, even if it happens when no one’s home, it has a significant impact on you and your family’s sense of security. The good news is that there are many simple steps you can take that will deter the average burglar and help keep your home and family safe.

1. Install an alarm system

The best thing you can do to increase security in your home is to install an alarm system. A home alarm system will monitor your house and immediately dispatch emergency personnel when there is an attempted break-in. Once intruders hear an alarm blaring, they usually leave the premise immediately. What’s more, just knowing that a house has an alarm system will often prevent a burglar from even attempting to break in. That’s why it’s important to display signs and decals with the alarm company’s name on it on every window and potential entry point of your home. Find more information on the types of residential alarm systems we offer.

2. Brighten up your yard

Another way to deter intruders is to ensure that there is sufficient lighting around your property. Many robberies happen at night, so it’s imperative that burglars can’t hide in the dark. Place lights around your front and back yard, paying close attention to entry points such as windows, doors, and walkways. If you’re concerned about energy costs, install lights with motion sensors that illuminate immediately when they are triggered.

3. Install timers

It’s just as important to light up the inside of your house as it is the outside. If you work at night or you know that you will be away for an extended period of time, make sure you have timers installed inside your home that will turn lights on and off automatically. This will make it more difficult to determine when you’re away. It’s also wise to program lights in different rooms to go off at different times. It will look too obvious if all of the lights in the house suddenly go on and off at the same time every day. Alternatively, you can use smart switches such as WeMo Insight or iDevices to control your lights from your smartphone while you’re away.

4. Eliminate hidden house keys

Ideally, you shouldn’t have a spare key to your house anywhere on your property. Burglars are familiar with the most common hiding places for keys (in the mailbox, under the mat, under that randomly placed suspicious-looking rock by the door). Instead, give it to a friend or trusted neighbour. If you don’t have anyone to give it to and you must have a key on your property, be very creative with your hiding spot and make sure that only you and your family know about it.

5. Reinforce your locks

Locking your doors is a simple way to better protect your home, but it’s also one that people often overlook when they are in the house. Even if you are at home, it’s important to lock your doors to increase security. Because locks are the weakest point on a door, take time to evaluate the effectiveness of your locks. Exterior doors should be dead-bolted with one-inch-thick dead bolts. Dead bolts are stronger than spring latch locks and are an easy way to boost security in your house. When installing dead bolts, make sure that the strike plate is made of solid metal or brass and that they are installed using three-inch-long screws that penetrate the joist and the housing of the door. This will eliminate the possibility of the door being easily kicked in.

6. Eliminate potential hiding places

The last thing you want to do when it comes to home security is to provide intruders with convenient hiding spots that they can use to their advantage. One such hiding place is behind tall or bushy shrubs and trees. Be sure to trim greenery around your property that is big enough to conceal a burglar. Shrubbery that is not well spaced is also problematic; avoid planting rows of tall bushes that someone can easily hide behind. When pruning your landscape, make sure that your house number is clearly visible to help emergency personnel easily locate your home if the need arises.

7. Protect your windows

Intruders will often attempt to break into a house through the windows so it’s essential that they are well secured. All window locks should be operable. If you have any that don’t function properly, have them replaced. Consider boosting the security of your windows by installing tempered glass and proper locks instead of the latches that come with the windows when you purchase them.

8. Don’t broadcast that you’re away

With the prevalence of social media, many of us like to announce to the world that we are going on vacation to a tropical paradise while everyone else has to suffer through another long winter. Although this may make you feel good, it’s not the smartest decision when it comes to protecting your home from theft. You can never be sure who will see that post once it’s been liked or shared by people you trust. Posting vacation details on social media gives burglars the chance to plan a break-in while you’re miles away relaxing on the beach. Another, less obvious way that we often advertise that we’re not home is by forgetting to make our house looked “lived in” while we’re away. Intruders look for clues of your absence such as a mailbox overflowing with mail, a driveway covered in snow, and a perpetually dark house. Have a neighbour or friend pick up your mail and shovel your driveway for you while you’re gone. You can also invite them to park in your driveway so it looks like someone is still coming and going. Use timers to turn on lights or the TV to give the appearance that there are people in the house. Burglars will be less likely to attempt a break-in if your house still looks active.

9. Befriend your neighbours

Neighbours can be a helpful resource when it comes to protecting your home. Take the time to get to know your neighbours so that they won’t hesitate to help you when you need it. They can spot suspicious activity around your house when you are not there and inform you about it right away. They can also be the people you trust with your spare house key, and to pick up your mail when you’re away. The more people you have to rely on, the more secure you will feel when you’re not in the house.

10. Don’t help the intruder

This may seem like the most obvious tip out of the ten, but many homeowners unintentionally assist the burglar invade their home. Have a thorough look around your property for items that could be used to a burglar’s advantage. For example, make sure there aren’t any ladders or stacked chairs around the outside of your house that could help an intruder access a second storey window or balcony. Look for branches that extend to windows and trim them to avoid an intruder making good use of them. Once your property is clear of any props the intruder might use, check garages and garden sheds to ensure that they properly secured with keyed locks. Robbers will often use sheds and garages to gain access to ladders, stackable bins, and tools that could help them break into the house.

Although burglary is a common crime, it is often a preventable one. By taking the necessary precautions, you can help keep your home and family safe. If you would like to have your home’s security assessed, contact us for a free evaluation. We will help ensure that your house is as secure as possible.