No one wants to be the victim of a burglary. Between the theft of property and cash, potential damage to your business or home, and the headache of having to sort out the legal and insurance aspects of a break in, it’s a scenario most people would love to avoid at all costs. Add to that the fact that burglaries have an extremely low solve rate, and there is plenty of incentive to take whatever steps are necessary to deter criminals from targeting you.
Seeing the damage caused by break-ins on a daily basis gives law enforcement a great idea of which deterrents work best, which security precautions are the most reliable and efficient, and which non-technical safeguards can help convince a would-be burglar to move onto a different target.
As a rule, you should avoid leaving valuable out in the open whenever possible. Investing in a safe to keep items like jewelry secure inside your home is a great choice provided the safe is bolted down to keep a thief from simply taking the whole thing with him. Larger valuables like golf clubs or power tools should be stored out of sight from the street, and kept in a locked shed or garage. Regardless of what you’re storing in your garage, it’s a good idea to have your alarm system cover this area as well. Treat your garage doors the same as you would exterior doors on your house, and keep them locked.
Investing in a safe for your business is a simple way to protect the cash you have on hand. Again, choose a safe that can be bolted down – preferably to the floor or foundation – and avoid safes with exposed hinges, as they are easier to gain forcible access to.
Outdoor lighting is an excellent deterrent, especially when it means that anyone who approaches your home or business will be easily visible to other people nearby. Motion detection lights are fairly inexpensive and very simple to install and remove the cover of darkness most thieves rely on. Leaving a light or two on inside your home when you’ll be gone for a few days can also help to convince a burglar to choose another target. Often the illusion of a building being occupied is enough to make a criminal move on. They want cash and goods, not a confrontation.
Locking the door on your way out or before you turn in for the night is behaviors ingrained in all of us. What isn’t always habit, however, is doing the same to your windows. Keeping windows closed and locked tight takes the easiest points of access away from a burglar. If they can’t slip in through an unlocked window, they instead have to either force their way inside causing serious property damage and potentially alerting someone to their presence or move on.
Your home décor can sometimes work in a burglar’s favor, particularly when it offers an easy way of getting inside or offers them a way to hide from passersby. Louvered windows look beautiful, but all a criminal needs to do is remove the slats to get inside your home. Gluing the individual slats to the louver frame eliminates that problem, and has the added bonus of making your windows harder to access. Plants, shrubs, and trees all add a little something to the look of your property, but often block the view of your home from the street in the process. Keep shrubs and trees trimmed to improve visibility and take the shelter and shadows needed for someone to move around your property undetected out of the equation.
Fences and walls can sometimes act as deterrents, but if they are also blocking the exterior of your home or business from being seen from the street, chances are they will also offer cover for anyone trying to break in.
While stopping the crime from happening in the first place is the ideal, there are measures you can put in place that can help make dealing with the aftermath of a break in or attempted break-in much easier. An alarm system with intrusion detection alerts that can notify you, your security provider, and the police acts as both a deterrent and a precaution. The same goes for video surveillance. Security systems with visible components will often make a criminal head off in search of an easier target, and in the event that someone does gain access to your business or home, you’ll now have video evidence that may be able to help the police catch the perpetrator.
A final piece of advice that both security professionals and law enforcement agree is important for protecting your property is a thorough inventory. Taking the time to catalog the model and serial number of computers, cash registers, power tools, and electronics, and any other items that could be traceable with the right information can help police track down anyone trying to sell off your property, and potentially even return that property to you.
Break-ins at both business and residential properties are fairly commonplace, but the key to avoiding being the victim of a burglary is often as easy as making yourself an unappealing target. Thieves are lazy, and if you make them work hard to get at your valuables, more often than not they’ll quickly decide you’re just not worth the effort.
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