Keeping Your Home Safe From the Outside In

By Danielle Pastula

“You never know what you’ll do until it happens to you.”

While this sentiment might be true for some scenarios, when it comes to keeping your home safe from burglary, there’s plenty you can do to prevent a home invasion.

According to the FBI, a household burglary happens every 14.4 seconds for a total of 3.7 million per year in the United States. You just can’t afford to not play it safe.

Here are some of the top ways to keep your home guarded from the outside in, whether your family is away for vacation or tucked quietly in their beds.

GET THE RIGHT REINFORCEMENTS

Burglars need an entry point, so the better your doors and windows, the more of a deterrent it will be for potential robbers.

The most common door type used in homes and apartments is the hinge door. These exterior doors should be solid wood core or steel clad in order to ensure optimum security. Avoid lightgauge aluminum, hollow core or composition board doors, which can be easily battered or bored through. These doors essentially deem your deadbolt useless, no matter how strong it is.

Sliding glass doors are also attractive for burglars since they can be easily removed from their tracks. The best way to make them safe is to install an auxiliary lock, such as a deadbolt or pin mechanism, as well as a Charley bar, which can be used to prevent the door from sliding open.

For windows of any design, the main thing to consider is getting additional reinforcements in the form of pins through the frame, screws in the track or keyed locks.

FOLLOW STRONG PREVENTION HABITS

According to research conducted by SecurAmerica, most home burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when people are most likely to not be home. The average time it takes for homes to be burglarized is just 10 minutes. These statistics mean that it’s important to practice good habits all the time. Especially during broad daylight, when you may think it’s OK to leave a back door unlocked while you run up the street to grab something from the store.

In most cases, we tell people they need to make noise and turn on lights and/or set off alarms in the home to let the would be perpetrator know that there is someone home”

When you regularly practice strong prevention habits such as consistently locking your doors, closing your garage door, setting your alarm and not posting your whereabouts on social media, you’re helping to lower the likelihood that a burglar would see your home as an easy target. Even if burglars do attempt to break into your home, they’ll give up quickly if they’re unable to gain entry and move on to their next target to avoid drawing attention to their activities.

KEEP YOUR FAMILY INFORMED AND STAY ALERT

Finally, one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to plan and discuss what you would do in the event of a break-in while you’re in your home. According to Cary Gallop, the crime prevention deputy for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and a certified crime prevention practitioner, most burglars want to enter an unoccupied home to avoid being detected. “In most cases, we tell people they need to make noise and turn on lights and/or set off alarms in the home to let the wouldbe perpetrator know that there is someone home.”

Fleeing your home and running to a safe place in close proximity is usually the last option to take, unless you believe the person wants to do you harm, Gallop said.

“If you decide to flee your own home, you should consider these questions: Where am I running to? Do I have the physical ability to avoid the confrontation or am I in good enough shape to run? How far away is help if I need it? I.e. friends, law enforcement and neighbors that I trust.”

Gallop also said that enhancing your self-defense skills is something everyone should do. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that 90 percent of self-defense is awareness, risk avoidance and risk reduction. Only 10 percent of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design techniques are physical; most focus on changing your daily habits and making your home less attractive to criminals.