Is Your Home a Target for Theft?

Is Your Home a Target for Theft? bb3 Sep 12, 2013

By Staff Writer

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As much as you'd like to believe your home is immune to burglary, it happens. The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime reported that Canada had 578 burglaries per 100,000 people in 2010, and Statistics Canada notes that 63% of all break-ins occur on residential properties.

Fortunately, there are many easy, affordable and commonsense things you can do to help protect your home.

Tighten up your security.

Dissuade burglars with these tips:

  • If your home is not outfitted with a professional security system, add a generic security sign to your yard or stickers to your door. These decoys may not always fool burglars, but they may think twice about hitting your home.
  • Create open spaces in your landscaping and keep bushes trimmed so burglars have fewer places to hide. If you're landscaping, plant thorny plants such as rose bushes in vulnerable areas.
  • Install a motion sensor light to catch intruders by surprise but put it high enough that a burglar can't reach up and unscrew the bulb.
  • At night, turn on your lights, open your curtains and walk around the exterior of your home. You'll see what's visible to a burglar from your yard or sidewalk. Then have someone turn off the lights in your home: You may be surprised how much you can still see from street level. After this exercise, you might choose to move certain items or draw the blinds more frequently.
  • Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and doors from an attached garage. Select a deadbolt with a Grade 1 rating. A Grade 1, 2 or 3 rating indicates the locks have been tested for security and durability, with Grade 1 being the best.
  • To make existing locks more secure, install a heavy-duty strike plate using three-inch [7.62 cm] screws that penetrate the wall stud. Make sure the door strike is held in place by four or more screws. And strengthen the doorframe by installing a doorjamb reinforcement product.
  • Put tools, bikes and other items away when you're done using them. If your things are too visible, burglars may wonder what else you have inside.
  • Dogs are exceptional deterrents to theft. Let your dog be seen and heard. A thief who knows there's a dog in the house may pick another target.

Hide the good stuff.

Thieves are typically looking for small items they can grab quickly and resell easily.

  • Drawers and closets in the master bedroom are often where thieves look first. Hide valuables, jewellery and cash elsewhere.
  • Thieves will hit the family room, looking for gaming systems and small electronics. Cover your windows with shades that filter light but block an intruder's view of your components.
  • Your desk is filled with important papers, statements, cheque books which could lead to identity theft. Encrypt vulnerable information that's stored on your home computer, and keep important documents in a home safe. Then be sure to keep both your computer and your safe well hidden. 

Pretend you're there.

Keep your home looking lived-in when you're away.

  • Leave lights on timers when you're gone but choose timers that have random settings so thieves can't detect a pattern.
  • If you'll be away for a short time, leave a radio or TV turned up loud enough that it might be heard outdoors. If a longer trip is in your plans, consider using an electronic device that simulates the lights and flicker of a TV and gives the impression that someone's home and uses about the same amount of power as a night-light.
  • Don't leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you're away. Some burglars phone ahead to see if you're there.
  • Don't post your travel plans on social media websites. Burglars may use social networking sites to find victims.
  • When you're leaving for longer period, ask a trusted neighbour to watch your home, gather your mail and otherwise give the appearance of activity. Leave your spare key with the neighbour too: Burglars know the usual hiding places.

Try an ounce of prevention.

Take these steps to protect your home and property.

  • Ask police if they'll do a safety check of your home. An officer can point out where your home is most vulnerable.
  • Engrave your electronics with a non-official ID number to help police track goods if they're stolen.
Take photos or a home movie of every room and its contents and store the film in a safe deposit box. Learn how to create a home inventory with tips from State Farm®.

If your house was hit?

Despite your efforts, you still may become a victim.
  • If you return home and notice something's wrong—the back door is ajar or a window is broken—leave immediately and call the police from a safe place. If you're at home, go to the nearest room and lock yourself in, then call 911.
  • After contacting the police and family, contact your State Farm® agent to report the theft.
  • If you've been burglarized once, you may be targeted again. Some burglars will return after homeowners replace their items. Don't wait to secure your home after a burglary.

Learn more about protecting yourself against home burglary with these tips.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under any policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.