Return to The Money Mentor Blog

How to protect your home from burglary

January 09, 2014

By Alliant Credit Union

In 2012, over 2.1 million burglaries occurred nationwide, and three-quarters of them were home burglaries, according to the FBI. But fortunately, burglary is one of the most preventable crimes - if you take a few precautions. The key is to make your home look unappealing to burglars and to make it look occupied whether or not you're home.

Picture the burglar mindset: they are on the prowl for something worth stealing in an unoccupied home that has easy access and low visibility for detection. The average burglar get frustrated easily and will spend no more than five minutes trying to break into a home. "They want to slip in and out unseen," said Mark Buetow, former community liaison officer for the Milwaukee Police Department. "If they hear sounds of activity, they'll generally move on." Here are steps to take to safeguard your home.

Be sure to lock all doors and windows whenever you leave home. It's amazing how many people don't do that and yet it's the simplest and best thing anyone can do," says Charles Sczuroski of the National Crime Prevention Unit.

Burglar-proof your doors. Install deadbolt locks and preferably have doors that are solid wood or made of steel wrapped cord. For doors with windows, install a quarter inch Plexiglas barrier over the existing glass.

Thwart window-shopping thieves by using shades and drapes to keep tempting items out of sight. Keep your money, jewelry and valuables out of view, perhaps locked away in a hidden safety box. Secure patios with a pin-type lock or steel rod inserted into the door change. If you have a garage, install an automatic opener or bolt type lock on each end of its door.

Get an alarm system, motion detector and automatic timers. A system with a loud alarm and flashing lights encourages burglars to hightail it out of your home. Motion detectors that cause a sudden change from darkness to bright light can have the same effect. Automatic timers on lights, radios and TVs fool burglars by making your home appear occupied. Another deterrent: a sign or decal outside your home indicating that you have an alarm system or guard dog - even if you don't.

Don't give burglars a hide-out in shrubbery. Make your windows, doors and porches visible by trimming overgrown vegetation around them, depriving culprits of a hiding place.

Get neighborly. If you go away for more than a day, enlist a trusted neighbor to pick up your newspaper and mail, or ask the Post Office and newspaper to suspend delivery while you’re gone. For extended times away, make sure you have somebody on hand to mow your lawn or shovel your sidewalk and driveway. In some localities, you can ask your local police to periodically keep an eye on your place.

Here are eight facts about burglaries:

  1. Most home burglaries happen between 10am and 3pm.
  2. Favorite items to steal: things that are easy to sell, as well as cash, jewelry, silver, guns and electronic equipment.
  3. The burglar's typical first stop is the master bedroom because most people store their valuables there.
  4. The average loss per burglary is $1,725.
  5. On average, burglars spend only eight to 12 minutes in a home.
  6. 34% of burglars gain entry to a home through the front door, 23% through a first floor window, 22% through the back door, 9% through the garage, 6% through unlocked entrances and storage areas, 4% through the basement and 2% through a second floor window.
  7. If your home lacks a security system, it is 3 times more likely to be burglarized than is a home with a security system.
  8. Your odds of being broken into by a professional burglar are slim. Instead, the typical house burglar is a male teenager who lives within a few miles of your home.

Did you know that Alliant members are eligible for Homeowners Insurance from the TruStage™ Auto and Homeowners Insurance Program?

Up your Financial IQ

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to help you stay at the top of your financial game.