By Jarrod Heil
Budget-Friendly Tips to Prevent Home Break-Ins While You’re Away
Even though your homeowners, renters or condo insurance policy may provide protection for stolen items, nobody wants to file a home insurance claim because their belongings were stolen from their house.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 841,283 residential burglaries in the United States in 2017. Of those, 50% occurred during the daytime and another 19% occurred at an unknown time of day, likely because residents were away on vacation or working long hours.
The best way to prevent a burglary from happening is to install a security system. Security systems get even better when you combine an interior security alarm with exterior security cameras. Doubling down allows you to take an active stance against burglary, letting would-be robbers know that your house is not to be messed with.
Exterior cameras create a daunting presence for thieves, who likely won’t want to be on the back end of a recording somewhere. If they bypass the silent warning of security cameras and enter your home, a monitored interior security alarm sounds and notifies police of the break-in. The loud sound acts as a trigger warning, often startling robbers enough that they leave with nothing.
You’ll also receive a call from the security company to notify you that the alarm is sounding and authorities on are the way. If your home is protected through a smart home security system, you may even get notifications on your phone about the developing situation and be able to access live-feed cameras.
Always point security cameras toward each window and door. If you don’t turn on your alarm system every time you leave the house, make sure you don’t put a mirror across from it. A mirror, that’s visible through a window, will allow would-be thieves to peek in and see whether the alarm is armed or disarmed.
Budget-friendly security systems begin at $200 — additional maintenance fees may apply each month. Some of that cost can be offset when you factor in that discounts on your homeowners insurance policy are available for eligible home security systems. Even still, security systems can get expensive. There are several free and low-cost solutions available that can be very effective in helping deter a would-be intruder.
The following nine budget-friendly tips can help prevent home break-ins while you’re away:
1. Purchase Security Signs & Fake Cameras
If you forgo a security system, consider buying security signs and window decals and installing fake cameras. They’ll run you a fraction of the cost and double your peace of mind while you're away.
2. Get Reliable Locks for Exterior Doors
Installing a deadbolt to each exterior door can help reinforce them so they’re tougher to break through. Reinforcing the deadbolt will provide extra security and make it tougher to break through the door. Replacing your old locks with new, heavier-duty locks can assure protection against corrosion and weakening through wear and tear.
3. Hide Spare Keys in Discrete Locations
Everybody knows about the fake rock hiding spot. Leaving a key under the rug is just foolish nowadays. Underneath a potted plant is getting better, but still not foolproof. You’ll need to find a place on your property that’s unique enough that no thief will ever look. Preferably in plain view of the street and neighbors, too, so snooping burglars can easily be spotted.
4. Secure Windows and Sliding Doors
Stick a wooden dowel or metal bar in the bottom of sliding doors and windows. This will create a reinforcement that makes them extremely difficult to open.
5. Shut Blinds, Drapes and Curtains
By shutting blinds, drapes, curtains or anything else you have covering windows and glass doors, you’ll create mystery for would-be burglars that’ll make it difficult to determine if your house is empty or occupied.
6. Remove Deliveries from View
This goes for newspapers, boxes, mail and even those pesky flyers you have no control over accepting. If these items build up in your mailbox or on your front doorstep, it will send a signal to burglars that the house is unoccupied, which makes for an easy target.
7. Keep Landscape Trimmed
Easier said than done. Landscape that’s properly maintained will deter thieves from trying to break in because it lets them know that the house is well taken care of and occupied.
8. Utilize Timers for Lights
When daylight saving time recedes for the winter, darkness creeps in quicker and stays longer. For families that work late hours, that means homes will be unoccupied and left in darkness for more of the night. Utilizing timers for even a few house lights can prevent theft.
Even when you’re out for the night or away on vacation, it’s good practice to utilize light timers. Set timers to go on before the sun sets, including lights near the front and back doors, as well as a few visible to windows.
9. Install Exterior Motion Lights
Exterior motion lights are an excellent theft deterrent. They help freeze the potential robber and, hopefully, scare them enough so they go away without trying to break in.
If you’ve suffered a break-in and need to file a claim, you can call Universal at 844-633-9900 or file online at https://universalproperty.com/claims.