According to the most recent statistics from the FBI, there were 3.78 million property crimes committed in the United States in 2012. That amounts to one property crime every 2 minutes on average. Property crimes include residential burglaries, motor vehicle theft, general larceny/theft, and arson. Losses from these crimes totaled $15.5 billion.
If there is any good news in the statistics then it is the fact that property crimes were down about 3% over the previous year. That can be attributed, in part, to better home security and more vigilance among homeowners. As communities are taking more responsibility for mutual safety, criminals are finding it more difficult to do their work.
In the following paragraphs, we will discuss what you need to know about home security in order to keep you and your family safe. Please understand that there is no solution guaranteed to offer 100% protection against any potential crime. Nevertheless, the more solutions you implement, the safer you will be in the long run.
Other than general larceny and theft, the most common type of property crime is residential burglary. A residential burglary is a scenario in which a burglar enters an unoccupied home for the purposes of stealing valuables that can then be sold on for profit. Residential burglaries are differentiated from home invasions in order to make the distinction between an occupied dwelling and an unoccupied one.
To give you a better picture of residential burglary, consider the following statistics from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI):
- 81% of burglars gain access somewhere on the first floor
- 34% enter through the front door
- 23% enter through a first-floor window
- 22% use the back door
- 9% of burglars enter through the garage
- 4% enter through a basement door or window.
These statistics show a clear pattern of entry for residential burglaries. They show that protecting the first floor of your home, through numerous means, is the best way to keep burglars out. What are those means? The most effective include:
- Deadbolt Locks – All first-floor doors offer maximum protection when high-quality deadbolt locks are installed. Deadbolts are nearly impossible to break through without making a significant amount of noise, and noise is something burglars try to avoid any cost.
- Window Locks – The window locks provided by manufacturers are usually not good enough to stop burglars. Higher quality locks can be purchased at your local DIY store or through a security specialist. A good window lock will even allow you to leave your window slightly cracked without worry that a burglar will break in.
- Lighting and Shrubbery – Keeping front and rear doors well lit reduces the chances that burglars will attempt to enter through them at night. Where shrubbery is concerned, it should be kept well trimmed in order to allow windows and doors to be clearly seen from the street. In addition, using thorny or otherwise “painful” shrubbery in front of first-floor windows is a great help.
- Home Security Systems – Homes with installed security systems are less likely to be burglarized than those without. For maximum protection, including 24-hour monitoring with your security system is well worth the minimal amount you will spend. When burglars know a home is being monitored, they are more likely to move on to an easier target.
In the basement, it is a good idea to replace standard plate glass windows with block windows. These extra thick windows allow plenty of light in while restricting the view inside and being nearly in possible to break.
When You’re Away
The most successful burglars do not just randomly pick houses as they walk down a street for the first time. They first take the time to observe the neighborhood to determine the natural flow of things. That means when you are away, you cannot make it obvious.
On normal days, when we are just talking about being away at work or school, you can employ some practical methods to prevent burglary. Start by making sure all the blinds on first floor windows and doors are closed. Next, leave a light or two on; perhaps one in the main living area and another in the bedroom. Third, avoid dead giveaways like putting outgoing mail in your mailbox, letting your trash bins sit at the curb empty all day, and leaving the garage door open when you leave in the morning.
When you plan to be away for vacation, it is even more important that you take some steps to make it look like you are still home. Here are some of the more common suggestions:
- have a friend or neighbor take in your mail and newspaper
- have someone put out your trash and take it in on the appointed day
- put several lights and/or appliances on timers to make it look like people are home
- arrange for cars you’re leaving behind to be moved regularly
- if not leaving any cars, ask a neighbor to park his car in your driveway.
In addition to these suggestions, here is another big one: do not broadcast on social media the fact that you are on vacation. It is true that we love to share our vacation highlights with family and friends, but criminals use social media as a means of locating victims. Wait until you’re back home before you start sharing photos and stories.
Home Security Systems
Before we finish up, it’s important to talk specifically about home security systems, given the fact that they are one of the most effective ways to prevent property crimes. Home security systems can be installed in one of two formats: alarm only or alarm with monitoring.
An alarm only system is one that makes a lot of noise but does little else. The advantage of alarm only systems is that they are very affordable and can be purchased at department stores, security stores, and DIY outlets. They are also easy to install for the average homeowner. The disadvantage is that they offer no additional benefit if a criminal decides to ignore the noise and proceed.
A system that includes both an alarm and monitoring is much more secure inasmuch as it provides an extra set of ears and eyes keeping track of your property. Many of the nation’s top home security companies provide free or reduced cost alarm systems in exchange for a commitment to a monitoring contract. This type of system is a little more expensive, but it is still very affordable to the average consumer.
An added advantage of an alarm system with monitoring is that you can include a number of different options that will enhance your system and your security:
- Security Cameras – Home security companies include the option of installing multiple cameras in and around your house. Cameras are a powerful deterrent to criminals because they know any images captured by them would be very damning in court. Simply put, criminals hate security cameras.
- Remote Access – Today’s modern home security systems usually include remote access by way of an Internet connection. When this is included in a homeowner’s package, he can control and monitor his own security system from anywhere in the world.
- Home Automation – In addition to remote access, many modern systems also include the option of home automation. This option can be used to control lighting, thermostats, window blinds and various household appliances.
- Additional Monitoring – A home security system usually allows for more than just burglary monitoring. You can also include monitoring for fire, carbon monoxide, flood and, when necessary, medical emergencies involving elderly or chronically ill residents.
A state-of-the-art home security system with monitoring is a very effective weapon in the fight against property crimes. If you are interested, Monitronics is one of the leading providers of state-of-the-art systems and 24-hour monitoring services. The company has received numerous awards and certifications, demonstrating that it meets or exceed all industry standards in nearly every area. The company would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss your home security needs.
Remember, home security begins with you. The safety of your family and your property depends on your willingness to take the necessary steps to protect against property crimes. Thankfully, a lot of protection is available for a minimal amount of money and effort.