There are a number of measures that homeowners can take to ensure that their homes are not attractive to burglars. If clients are concerned about break-ins, inspectors can pass on to them basic strategies for burglar-proofing their homes.
Some interesting statistics concerning break-ins in the United States:
- InterNACHI estimates that theft makes up more than three-quarters of all reported crime.
- In 2005, law enforcement agencies reported more than 2 million burglary offenses.
According to a survey, burglars enter homes through the following locations:
- 81 percent enter through the first floor;
- 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door;
- 23 percent enter through a first-floor window;
- 22 percent enter through the back door
- 9 percent enter through the garage;
- 4 percent enter through the basement;
- 4 percent enter through an unlocked entrance;
- 2 percent enter through a storage area; and
- 2 percent enter anywhere on the second floor.
- Doors should be made of steel or solid-core wood construction. Hollow-core wood doors are more easily broken than heavy, solid-core doors.
- Doors should be free of signs of rot, cracks and warping.
- Doors should be protected by quality deadbolt locks. Chain locks are not adequate substitutes for deadbolt locks, although chain locks may be used as additional protection.
- If a mail slot is present, it should be equipped with a cage or box. Mailslots that are not equipped with cages or boxes have been used by burglers to enter homes. Burglars can insert a contraption made of wire and cord into the mail slot and use it to open the lock from the inside, if no box or cage is present.
- If a door is equipped with glass panes, they should be installed far from the lock. Otherwise, burglars can smash the glass and reach through the door to unlock the door.
- Spare keys should not be hidden in obvious locations. Burglars are very good at finding keys that homeowners believe are cleverly hidden. The best place for a spare key is in the house of a trusted neighbor. If keys must be hidden near the door, they should not be placed in obvious locations, such as under a doormat, rock or planter.
- A peephole can be installed in doors so homeowners can see who is on their doorstep before they open the door.
- Clients should consider installing bump-resistant locks on their doors. “Bumping” is a technique developed recently that can open almost any standard lock with less effort than is required by lock-picking. This technique uses "bump keys," which are normal keys with slight modifications. Lock companies such as Schlage Primus and Medeco manufacture a number of locks that offer some bump-resistance.
- Pet doors can be used by burglars to enter homes. Some burglars have reached through pet doors in order to unlock the door. It is advisable to not have a pet door, but if one is necessary, it should be as small as possible and installed far from the lock.
- A crafty burglar may convince or coerce a small child to crawl through a pet door and unlock the door. Also, some burglars are children.
- Electronic pet doors are available that open only when the pet, equipped with a signaling device in their collar, approaches the door. These doors are designed to keep stray animals out of the home, and may provide protection against burglars, as well.
- They should be equipped with locks on their tops and bottoms.
- They should not be able to be lifted from their frames.
- A cut-off broom handle, or a similar device, can be laid into the door track to prevent it from being opened.
- Lights should be installed on the exterior of all four sides of the house. Burglars prefer darkness so they cannot be seen by neighbors or passersby.
- When building occupants are not home, a few lights should be left on.
- It is helpful to install exterior lights that are activated by motion sensors. Burglars that are suddenly illuminated may flee.
- All windows should be composed of strong glass, such as laminated glass, and be in good operating order.
- They can be installed with bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire screening. Barred windows must be equipped with a quick-release mechanism so occupants can quickly escape during a fire.
- Windows should not be hidden by landscaping or structures. If landscaping or structures cannot be moved, lighting can be installed around the windows.
- Shrubs and trees should not obscure the view of entrances. Shielded entrances can provide cover for burglars while they attempt to enter the residence.
- Fences are helpful burglar deterrents, although they should not be difficult to see through.
- A loud radio can be used to make burglars think someone is home. Timers can be used to activate radios and lights to make the home seem occupied.
- A car should always be parked in the driveway. A neighbor’s car can be parked there so that it appears as if someone is home.
- The lawn should be cut regularly. Uncut grass is a clue that no one is home.
- Dogs are excellent burglar deterrents. For clients who cannot own dogs, they can place "beware of dog" signs around the yard for nearly the same effect.
- If no security system is installed, the client can post security alarm stickers around the yard.
In summary, there are a number of tactics that inspectors can pass on to their clients that will help safeguard their homes from break-ins. There is no substitute for a good alarm system. A quality, monitored alarm system can also contact help in the event of a fire, break-in, flood, or carbon monoxide leak even if you are not at home. For a free no obligation quote for an alarm system and monitoring, please contact us at sdinspect.com or firstname.lastname@example.org