Deterring and preventing home burglaries

by Dan Krell © 2009

Another sign of our troubled economy is the increase in incidents of crime. Unemployment and rising tensions can sometimes change behaviors in people who would otherwise be law abiding. Homes are being burgled by thieves who take what they can from garages, cars and homes; the thieves have also become brazen, as some have entered homes while the owners are inside.

Statistics reported by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) indicate that a burglary occurs somewhere in the United States every 14.6 seconds. In about 84% of burglaries, the thief entered the victim’s home. Statistics from Pennsylvania indicated that 81% of break-ins occurred on the first floor; 34% of entries are through the front door. A Connecticut study reported that 12% of burglars entered through unlocked doors (

“Not to worry,” you say, you have a security system in your home. However, the NBFAA states that the security system is only part of the overall security plan. Home owners who rely solely on their security system for protection have higher incidents of break-ins than homeowners who use a combination of preventative measures and deterrents along with a security system.

Experts agree that burglars will spend about sixty seconds to break in to a home. If it takes longer than sixty seconds they move onto the next home; the longer it takes to break in, the higher the chance of being caught. Preventative measures will make it more difficult for someone to break into your home and increasing the chances of thwarting the criminal.

According to a pamphlet distributed by the Montgomery County Department of Police (“In Case of Burglary…Keeping Your Home and Family Safe”), the best way to protect your home and belongings is to secure your home. A simple way to begin securing your home is to lock your doors and windows. When you move into a new home, change the locks immediately. Keep ladders and tools out of site as burglars can use these items to get inside your home. Secure your shed and outbuildings with high quality locks.

Additional deterrents include interior and exterior lighting. A well lit exterior allows for easy identification of visitors as well as anyone attempting to break-in to your home. Motion sensors are often recommended so as to activate when people approach your home; these lights can also be set to activate when you are away. Having a monitored security system can be one of the most effective deterrents, but its efficacy is diminished if you do not activate the alarm.

If you plan to be away, security experts recommend identifying someone who can respond to emergencies that may occur in your home. Additional recommendations include stopping newspapers and mail service and having timed lights to give the appearance of someone occupying your home.

Many local police departments offer a free security survey of your home to help you identify areas in and around your home that are vulnerable to burglars. Security items often overlooked by home owners include: overgrown shrubs and trees that can offer burglars cover while attempting to break-in; unsecured sliding glass doors; unsecured garage doors; doors with inadequate locks and strike plates. Having your home surveyed doesn’t only increase crime deterrents, but it may also give you a little peace of mind.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 9, 2009. Copyright © 2009 Dan Krell.