Whether you live in a house, a condo or an apartment, a break-in can
permanently shatter your feeling of security at home. According to FBI
statistics, a house, apartment or condominium is burglarized once every
Fortunately, burglary is probably the most preventable of
crimes. By taking a few simple precautions, you can dramatically reduce
Of course, every home and every situation is different, and there are no
The first step is to determine what kind of threat you are trying to
protect against. For example, defending against personal threats, such
as assault, requires different measures than defending against burglary.
Most home burglars do not give great amounts of thought to planning the
job and assessing the benefits vs. dangers, but understanding how they
choose a target can go a long way in reducing your chances of being a
Most burglars look for:
Something worth stealing
Easy access combined with low visibility
A home that is unoccupied
Did you know? More residential burglaries occur during the day
because homes tend to be vacant more often.
How to prevent break-ins:
Fool them by making your home look occupied all the time.
Use automatic timers on lights when away from home.
Always park your cars in the garage with the garage door shut. A burglar
may otherwise notice a pattern that a closed garage door or no cars in
the driveway means no one is home. Closing the garage door and having
curtains or blinds on the garage windows also hides some of your
Place radios on automatic timers and raise the volume so they can be
Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so that
they can't be heard outside.
Never leave notes on your door that can tip off burglars.
When away for more than a day:
If possible, have your telephone calls forwarded when you are away from
home. Burglars sometimes check to see if someone is home by making a
Have a trusted neighbor pick up the mail and newspaper. If possible, do
not have either stopped. That gives information about you being away
from home to others whom you do not know.
If away for an extended period, have a plan in place to have the grass
mowed or snow shoveled.
If you are away from home on garbage pickup day, ask a trusted neighbor
to put your garbage cans out to the street and take them back in. You
may wish to have your neighbor use your garbage cans while you are out.
Burglars sometimes check for empty cans as a sign the family is away.
There are systems available that will open and close window draperies by
timer. Constantly open or closed curtains can tip the burglar off that
no one is home.
Even if you don't need specific help, always tell a trusted neighbor if
you are going to be gone for a few days.
If you are going to be gone for an extended period, ask your local
police to check your home periodically.
In short, make your house look the same whether you are away or at
Eliminate hiding places
Make sure there is good lighting around the place where you park.
Install motion detector lights around your house instead of just leaving
lights on at night. The lights coming on and turning off attract the
attention of neighbors. Install these lights at least 8 feet above the
ground so they are more difficult to disable.
Install the motion detector lights so they light all doors and windows.
Doors, since they are the preferred entry point, should be the first
priority to illuminate, followed by windows.
Remove bushes and shrubs from around the house, especially under windows
and next to doors. Keep your yard free of overgrowth.
If you DO have shrubs and bushes, select ones with thorns to deter
potential intruders from hiding in them.
Install a security alarm system with a loud alarm and/or flashing
lights. This will attract the attention of neighbors. If you install an
alarm, display the decals, and remember to test the system periodically.
Use common sense caution
Always lock all doors and windows when you leave the house.
Use a peephole to identify visitors before opening your door.
Do not hide spare keys outside your home, instead give one to a trusted
Do not provide your house keys to service people.
Do not invite strangers into your home.
Do not have money or jewelry lying out in view from a window. If
possible, keep jewelry and other small valuables and important documents
in a safe deposit box.
Do not tell strangers your daily routines.
If you are at home working outside, leave all other doors that are out
of sight locked.
Avoid telling others about the valuables in your home.
If you have children, discuss home security with them, such as not
talking with strangers about their home, its contents or family
Make your home a harder target
Did you know? The average burglar will spend no more than four to five
minutes trying to break into a residence.
When moving into a new residence, have the locks changed.
Consult a good locksmith to make sure you have the correct types of
locks on your doors and windows.
Secure your exterior doors and any doors from attached garages by
Good quality deadbolt door locks
Security-type door strikes
Strong, properly installed doors and doorframes that cannot be spread
Secure your windows by installing additional locks and installing
impact-resistant glass on any windows within 42" of a door lock. This
will make it more difficult to break the glass, reach in, and unlock the
Prune lower branches of trees near your house if they could help a
burglar gain access to a second story window.
Secure your patio door with a pin-type lock, a key lock, or a steel rod
inserted into the door channel.
Secure your garage by installing automatic openers or bolt-type locks on
each end of the garage doors.
Take time to become knowledgeable about your situation and your options
so that you can best decide what to do. And remember, you can also ask
your local police department for advice.
Inventory and mark your belongings.
Use our free resources to complete a home inventory.
Mark your belongings with an engraving pen so that they can be traced
and return them to you if stolen. These pens are usually available at
your local police station. Ask your police department what numbers to
use when marking your belongings. Never mark them with your social
Be a good neighbor
Organize a cookout or other apartment or neighborhood get together so
neighbors can get to know one another.
Organize or participate in an Apartment Watch or Neighborhood Watch
Arrange for a local police officer to complete an apartment security
survey, or educate your neighborhood about specific safety concerns.
If you are an apartment dweller, notify management if you notice burned
out light bulbs, dark corridors, broken locks on mailboxes and doors
and/or other safety concerns.
Call the police immediately if you see suspicious activity in your