The U.S. Department of Justice estimates between 2 million and 3.7 million homes are burglarized each year. Is a security system enough to keep your home safe? What else can homeowners do to protect their homes and belongings? Check our extensive list of safety measures from law enforcement and insurance experts.
Home security systems
Security systems help guard your home, especially when you’re sleeping, at work, or on vacation. However, their value is limited by the number of window and door sensors linked to the system. For example, a two-story home is vulnerable to a second-story break-in if only ground-floor windows have sensors. Security systems can also be enhanced with surveillance cameras, motion detectors and asset protection devices that let you know if items in your home have been tampered with. Don’t forget to post decals and signs warning would-be intruders that your home is protected. Finally, a security system is worthless if it’s not activated. Homeowners lulled into complacency are at risk of being victimized.
When you purchase a security system, read the policy thoroughly to check for clauses about early termination, exclusions to the policy, and limited liability language that exempts the company from covering charges related to a break-in.
What else can a homeowner do?
- Install light timers for interior and exterior lights to make it look like someone is home. Remember to schedule random on and off times.
- Create a fake TV glow with an inexpensive gadget that works on a timer, making would-be burglars think someone is home watching TV.
- Hang window treatments, even sheer curtain panels, to obscure the interior of your home, making it more difficult to see your belongings.
- Install steel-reinforced doors and deadbolt locks on doors.
- Be diligent about closing garage doors. Burglars love stealing expensive sports equipment, tools and other items stored in garages. Alternately, they’ll close the garage door to conceal their entry into the main part of the home.
Even more safety measures
- Do not hide a spare key in the mailbox or under the mat – these are common places burglars check first.
- Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see what’s covered in the event of a burglary. Consider adding rider coverage for jewelry and other valuables.
- Keep your home exterior well maintained, the lawn mowed and weeds pulled. Don’t forget to regularly retrieve your mail and pick up newspapers and fliers.
- Be diligent about putting away ladders and tools. You definitely don’t want to equip burglars with the means to break into your home.
- If there’s no money in the budget for home protection, purchase alarm system decals and post them. Dummy surveillance cameras are also available.
- Check with your local police department to see if it offers complimentary home inspections to show you where to bulk up your security.
- Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Be sure to provide them with contact information.