Five Ways to Make Your House Less Desirable to Thieves


photoGuest posting for us today is my good friend, Ashley. As you will read in her post, she has learned some tough life lessons that she wanted to pass on. As a small town (and slightly naive) girl myself, I have found this information to be super helpful!

A few months ago, my home was burglarized.

When my husband and I arrived home after a week with family over the holidays we realized our back door and bedroom window were strangely open. As what had happened began to sink in, we realized our new computer, along with a few other things were missing.

I can’t describe the sinking feeling of being burglarized. Our emotions were all over the place: anger, fear, worry, relief. While it could have been much worse, some of our valuables were stolen: some replaceable, some not.

In the end, I should say, we feel lucky. Lucky that our possessions are modest and our physical well-being was never compromised. We are hopeful that our insurance company will help us at least enough to replace the computer, and thankful that only a few of the items of jewelry held much sentiment to us. It’s been a learning experience, especially for this small town, trusting girl. After speaking with a police officer and digesting the events, I’m hoping to share with you a few tips that we have learned (the hard way) for making your home less attractive to would be burglars.

thieves

1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

Developing a relationship with your neighbors means getting familiar with their faces, knowing their names, and recognizing their vehicles. The more you interact with them, the more likely they are to notice when something is out of place at your house. We actually do know our neighbors decently well, but should have done two things further. We should have had both of our immediate next-door neighbors numbers, and we should have told at least one of them or a trusted friend to check in on our house occasionally while we were gone. This wouldn’t have prevented our break-in, but it would have helped us narrow down when it happened and possibly resulted in a neighbor noticing someone try to get in.

2. Disguise the fact that you’re gone

Until we talked to the police, it didn’t occur to me that our Huskers (not local) garden rock is also a clue that we are more likely to leave town during the holidays than other people. In addition to this little tip, there are other ways to disguise your absence. Leave your front lights on (more on this in #3), and park your car where it normally is parked. I put mine in the garage while we were gone, and it usually sits in the driveway. Have your mail held (this is VERY easy to do online, so even if you forget to do it before you leave, you can do it without being home). If it’s winter, make sure to have someone shovel your sidewalk or driveway.

3. Let There Be Light!

For many reasons, burglars will shy away from a well-lit house. Consider installing some timer or motion lights.

I’ve looked into the following for our front door, back patio, and living room lamps.
Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 7.46.41 PMTimer Light Switch

You can purchase all kinds of light switch covers, so if you have a multi-switch for your front entry light, like we do, you can buy this light switch and a cover that suits your needs.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 7.45.01 PMMotion Detector Light

Our back patio isn’t something we want lit up all night, but should someone be rummaging around in our backyard, it might deter them if this light was shining on them.

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 7.45.51 PMRandom Timer Outlet

Hook a lamp up to an outlet like this and it will turn the lamp on and off throughout the day/evening to give a more realistic appearance of being home.

There are also products that you can connect to your smart phone or wifi that allow you to turn on and off your lights from anywhere. This would be really great if you were on a long vacation and didn’t want to leave a few lights on the whole day.

4. Double Check Your Locks

Make sure your windows and doors are actually locked appropriately. In fact, this was how our intruder entered our home. Our windows looked like they were locked, but it turns out several of our windows were “latched” right above the latch. The thief didn’t even have to break a window (a blessing for us really, but still not recommended!) to get in. Always close your blinds and curtains when you’re not home or at night. If thieves can’t see into your house, they can’t tally up all your valuables.

5. Consider an Alarm System

My biggest struggle following the break-in was sleeping peacefully in our house. I was disturbedwith the thought that if someone broke in again, they could possibly get to my daughter before I could. I was unable to fall asleep easily. I was startling at every little noise, wondering if someone was trying to sneak in through a window again. Even though an alarm system comes with a price, I needed the peace of mind. Anyone who has been burglarized would probably feel the same way. We did a lot of research and are really happy with the FrontPoint system we invested in. (PS — if you mention that Ashley Dawson referred you, you can get a free month and so can I!)

BONUS TIPS:

  • Make a video of your home each year or two and save it somewhere out of your home (to a flash drive you keep in a safety deposit box or on a cloud on the internet). Don’t save it to your computer!
  • Take a picture of all your most valuable items so you can describe them and their value accurately to your insurance agent if the need should arise. Again, keep this out of your home or in a fire-proof safe in a hidden location in your house.
  • Plant prickly bushes beneath windows as a deterrent. Rose bushes, or a pyracantha bush are good options.
  • If you have a Mac, use Find my Mac! Even if you have a desktop. We thought, “when will we ever not know where our iMac is?” Answer: when someone steals it out of your home. It’s also possible to track a stolen computer using Dropbox, so if you have it installed on your computers and your computer gets stolen, don’t automatically disconnect your Dropbox (like we did) without checking the last known IP addresses accessing your account.
  • Be wary of solicitors, especially if they ask to come in your home. Often times these can be people who want to scout out your house under false pretenses. As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve adopted a policy to not answer the door if I don’t know who it is.
  • If you have packages coming or a newspaper subscription, have a friend or neighbor collect them for you.
  • It never hurts to put a “Beware of Dog” sign up. While immediate neighbors and friends will know this sign is false, intruders will think twice or even likely pass over your house if there is chance of a dog being there.



Comments

  1. Lisa says

    Let me just add–this type of thing happens in the country, too. We were burglarized about 4 years ago, BUT some people actually caught the dude in the act and he was incarcerated. He did not get anything from our home (we don’t have much of value) but he had a truck full of goods less than a mile down the road. Don’t think that just because your town is small, this kind of thing couldn’t happen to you. It can happen to anyone. A few other tips we were given is to check for things out of the ordinary…like papers left on the porch, or an unstraightened rug. Many times people are using these methods to ‘check’ if anyone is actually home or taking notice.

    • Rachel says

      I’m glad the guy was caught! Thanks for sharing what you learned in the process.

  2. Lisa T says

    You had some good points. After working 30 years in LE, not answering your door when you ARE at home can be an open invitation for someone to break in because they think the house is empty of people. If someone is trying to sell you something be firm & tell them you are not interested. NEVER let a door to door solicitor (any stranger) in for any reason. Keep your outer storm/screen door locked so when you open your main door, they can’t just walk in on you. Don’t offer any info like your husband isn’t there if they want to talk to him and not you, just tell them he is busy working on something & you aren’t going to bother him. Take the time to write down what the person looked like, whether or not they were on foot or in a car or if a car was following them from house to house and that vehicle/occupant description. Watch to see where they go next or if they get in the car to leave. DON’T EVER HESITATE OR WAIT TO CALL THE LOCAL POLICE ON PEOPLE WHO COME TO YOUR HOUSE UNINVITED AND SOMETHING WASN’T RIGHT ABOUT THEM!

    We would much rather check something out when it happens and turns out to be nothing than after a crime has been committed. You may just help catch a criminal before a crime occurs in your neighborhood or solve who has been doing the break ins. It’s sad that you have to be that way today, but that is the way of the world.

    • Rachel says

      Great tips, thank you!

  3. Gary says

    I found a pretty cheap means of making your home less desireable for thieves……… just go purchase a huge dog dish and keep it by your back door. If a thief sees it…. they may think twice.

    • Rachel says

      Isn’t that smart?!

  4. Tat says

    I used to live in a huge house in South Africa and my Aunt told me to always close the doors between each room so if someone is looking through the window or even in the house they don’t know what I behind each door. They can’t see if someone is home or not.

  5. Branden says

    Quit interesting and sad to read. I live in South Africa. Everything you described, except for the snow, is common place here.

  6. Tedd says

    That was a sad story, but the most important is nothing happened to you and your family. Such a good tip coming from you. Thanks.

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