Guest 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.
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.
Timer 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.
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.
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!)
- 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.