Let’s face it, we Central Floridians are a proud bunch. We boast to our friends and family about our homeschool teams, our great BBQ, and our safe neighborhoods. Central Florida is home to some of the safest neighborhoods in the nation, but don’t let averages bring your guard down. Even the safest of neighborhoods tend to have their fair share of break-ins and burglaries. According to the FBI, there is a burglary every 15 seconds in the United States. Check out this Wesh video showing a burglary along Springs Landing Blvd in Seminole County in 2016, an area considered to be very safe.
What are the chances of something like this happening to your home? Of course there isn’t a definite answer, but we can tell you that the chances go down significantly when you live in a house that has been secured. If a burglar calculates that it will take more than 60 seconds to break into a house, the statistics show they will probably move on to an easier target. Ninety percent of burglaries occur when the house is unoccupied. Burglars know your neighborhood. They know when you leave your house and when you come home. This is why break-ins tend to happen most commonly between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
What can you do to protect your house, your valuables and your loved ones? Of course, you can never completely eliminate the risk of a break-in, but there are some very simple steps that everyone can take to drastically increase the odds in your favor. Best of all, you (the homeowner) can easily do all these things yourself and it won’t break the bank!
STEP 1 – Create an Aura of Presence
Burglars like easy targets and they like to stay hidden. This means they usually want to avoid people, especially you! One of the simplest things you can do to avoid a burglary is to leave a light on in the house when you leave or go to sleep. A really inexpensive way to automate this is to purchase an outlet timer like this one on Amazon. You can also light your landscaping and keep these lights on a photo control switch. Here’s an example, and it’s only $10!
Keep your grass cut, especially right before you go out of town. Always keep your car in the garage; this keeps the burglar guessing as to whether or not you are home. Speaking of going out of town, only tell your closest friends and relatives. Please don’t announce it all over social media! Social media is great for communicating, just don’t communicate the wrong thing. Announcing your departure can tip off the burglar to a nice easy target. It’s also a good idea to have a friend take in your trash cans and pick up your mail. Alternatively you can suspend mail service on the USPS website using this simple to use form.
STEP 2 – Create Good Habits
Have you ever closed your window and forgot to lock it? Have you ever walked out the front door with your hands full, completely intending to go back and lock the door, only to get distracted by a phone call once you got to the car? Most of us have found ourselves in this situation in the past. The best defense against these accidentally “left unlocked” situations, is simply routine. Create good habits. Never close a window, leaving it unlocked, expecting to go back later to open it back up. Never walk away from the front door without locking it. Simple routine will ensure that you’re not relying on memory alone to keep your doors and windows locked.
Another good habit to follow is to never leave your valuables in plain sight of a window. Make the thieves guess at how profitable their efforts will be.
STEP 3 – Make The Thief’s Job Difficult
Intuitively, we want to make things easier. Easier for us, also means easier for the thief however. Let’s make their job harder. Install multiple locks on your doors. Once the thief sees that it will take more effort to break in, they will likely not take the time.
Keep prickly bushes or plants under your 1st floor windows. No one wants to get cut up in the bushes; this goes for the thieves as well. They will move on to someone with an easier access point. Some good plants to think about are thorny rose plants or Creeping Juniper bushes. These plants will literally be a pain in the burglar’s rear!
STEP 4 – Use Quality Locks and Security
Let’s say you followed all the best practices, but the thief has still targeted your home. Your final lines of defense are your door locks and alarm system. If you are working on a limited budget, don’t spread yourself thin by going for cheap locks and a mediocre alarm system. Your best investment will always be high grade, multiple locks on all the exterior doors (even if you have to forgo the security system all together). Good locks are more important than the security system, as a security system can’t prevent the burglar from breaking in. The price differences between grade 3 and grade 1 locks is marginal, but the security upgrade that grade 1 locks provide is exponential. Here’s a good article from Angie’s List explaining the differences in lock grades.
If the cost of an alarm system is out of the question, do the next best thing; place signs in the yard and affix stickers on the windows announcing the type of alarm system that you have installed (even if you don’t have one installed). Trust us, your church friends aren’t going to fault you for telling a little lie to a potential thief. Make the thieves think that you have an alarm system and they will likely not bother with your house. This is the cheapest alarm system you could ever have and does ninety percent of the job of a real alarm system. Deterrence is the key.
If you do decide to invest in an alarm system, there are many choices ranging from a basic unmonitored system to a full on, 21st century system with all the bells and whistles. Here’s another great article from Angie’s List which breaks down the different levels and options for home security systems.
Of course, at the end of the day, nothing scares a burglar more than a large scary dog. Here’s a list of ten of the best breeds to consider. After-all, they call them man’s best friend for a reason!
We all want to believe that our neighborhoods are safe places for our families to lead happy lives. When it comes to safety, don’t leave anything to chance. By following these four easy steps, you will significantly decrease the odds of being the target of a home invasion.