We believe the holiday season should be one of joy. Whether you’re staying home or traveling this year, here are a few holiday safety tips to keep your family and home protected:
- Many burglars prefer to break-in through an unlocked door or window. Make sure all of your doors are locked and dead bolted and secure all of your windows, including those upstairs. Cut away tree limbs to reduce the chance of easy entry.
- If possible, have your landscaper (or one of your really nice neighbors) remove the snow from walkways and driveways while you’re away. An alternative to this would be to leave a car parked in your driveway.
- Keep your heat set at 55 degrees or higher to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze and cause flooding. Keeping your home safe doesn’t only mean keeping it safe from burglars. Natural disasters could be even more costly.
- Do not post public messages on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site letting people know that you will be out of town. Nothing is more inviting to a burglar than to know exactly when you’ll be out of town and for how long.
- Be sure to have your mail, newspapers and deliveries stopped or picked up by a neighbor, friend or relative. When the mail and newspapers are piled up at your front door, it is a clear sign that you are away.
- Use timers to operate interior lights and outdoor timers to operate your exterior holiday lights.
In more extreme burglary situations, intruders may try to kick in the door. Consider investing in a steel door, or additional bolts such as X.
What Do Burglars Usually Steal?
Once inside your home, thieves will generally look for easy to remove valuables such as:
- Electronic equipment such as laptops, computers, tables, phones, stereos, etc.
- Jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, etc.
- Cash, coins, savings bonds, etc.
- Credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, etc.
- Weapons such as guns, pistols, rifles, knives
Most burglars start by searching the master bedroom, because that is where most people tend to keep their valuables. They then move to other areas of the house as time permits.
Ideas for Concealing Your Valuables
The traditional method of concealing your valuables is to keep them in a safe. A safe is a great place, but it must be too heavy for the delinquents to remove from your home. If the safe is small enough to carry, they won’t waste time trying to gain access while in your home. They will simply pick it up, carry it with them, and figure out how to bust it open later.
A thief who enters a home is generally looking for a quick grab. Get in and get out. But, if they manage to get in without setting off an alarm, they aren’t any barking dogs, and no neighbors are watching, they may have plenty of time to look around inside your home. Anything that is left out in the open will be an easy steal. So, if you really want to keep your valuables safe, you’ll need to out-think the bad guys. Consider putting inconspicuous places such as the freezer, the fish tank, the toilet tank, the pantry, and other areas.
You may also consider purchasing hidden safes, also known as diversion safes. Hidden safes look like everyday products such as shampoo or shaving creme dispensers, soda cars, tissues boxes (the possibilities are endless), but they are actually safety storage containers with room to hide your valuables. We think these are a good idea, but steer clear of cheesy or fake looking products that might give your secret away.
Beware of “Casing”
Some would-be burglars will conduct surveillance on your home before they actually burglarizes. One trick they like to pull is to visit your home and ask for some random person; or act like they are selling something, or simply conducting a survey. This gives them a chance to determine who lives in the home, whether or not they have pets, what their schedule might be, etc. They may also try to associate the car in the driveway with the person who answers the door. That way, they know when that person is not at home. Also, they may take note if you have children or not, so they know when they are in school.
In addition, they will take the opportunity to assess your home, the type of car you drive, the furnishings they see in the house as you open the door, the jewelry and clothes you are wearing, etc. All of these things will tell them if you have enough money to make a breaking and entering worthwhile.
What Deters Burglars and Thieves
- Home security systems with signs posted in the yard and stickers on windows
- Visible security cameras
- Bars on the windows and doors
- A car parked in the driveway
- Lights, preferably with TVs and radios on. Thieves know that most people leave on lights when they leave their home, so leaving the front porch light and a few inside lights may not deter a criminal. However, the TVs and radios will make them think twice and move to the next house.
- A well-populated neighborhood with a lot of neighbors watching. In addition, it is important to have your house be visible to others, so make sure you keep your trees and bushes trimmed, which minimizes places for thugs to conceal their movements.
- Pets, especially barking dogs. Large breed dogs are the best. Not only do dogs pose a physical danger to the intruder, their barking could draw attention from neighbors.
What To Do If Your Home Is Burglarized
Having your home burglarized is a very traumatic experience for anyone. In the aftermath of the home invasion, you may not be thinking clearly. Here are a few recommendations for what you should do following a break-in:
- The first thing you should do is determine whether the person(s) might still be in your home. If there is any doubt as to whether your home is not safe, get yourself and your family out there. Go to a neighbors house, or get in the car and drive away to a safe location.
- Call the police immediately. Tell them your home has been burglarized and that you need the police to be dispatched as soon as possible. Provide the dispatcher with your address and any other relevant information that might be helpful for her to relay to the responding officer.
- If an alarm was set off, call or respond to your alarm monitoring company. They can dispatch law enforcement to your location if necessary.
- Don’t touch anything in the house. Leave everything as is for the police to inspect. After the police have evaluated the situation and completed their report, it would be a good idea to take photos of everything for insurance purposes.
- In some cases, the police may dust for fingerprints to see if they can match any prints
- Contact your neighbors and let them know what happened. Their house may be next, so they will need to be on the lookout.
Those who are interested in breaking the law are getting smarter everyday. So, to stay ahead of them, you’ll have to think like they do. Use these tips to keep yourself, your family and your home safe during the holidays and throughout the year.
If you have any suggestions that might help others, please leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list.