According to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), 522,426 burglaries were reported in the United States in 2020. Of those burglaries, 377,805 occurred in homes. The FBI obtained this data by compiling the crime statistics from 9,991 law enforcement agencies nationwide. The FBI estimates that these statistics cover only 53% of our total population.
If you’re envisioning the victims as sweet little old ladies duped by their scummy grandsons, think again! Statistics prove that our seniors, as usual, can teach us a thing or two about home security.
Age of Burglary Victims in 2020
Number of Burglary Victims in 2020
There is a direct correlation between the number of reported burglaries and the ages of those victimized. The only exception to this rule is the 20- to 29-year-olds. (But let’s be honest, we all know they are still living with their parents.)
While it is scary to think of your house being broken into while you are away, it is even more frightening to have it occur while you and your family are home. The following list of security deficiencies will provide some awareness and tools to help you avoid becoming the next victim of a burglary, or worse, a home invasion. A simple burglary becomes a home invasion when the perpetrator forcibly enters an occupied residence. Sometimes, just making your presence known is the only deterrent needed to prevent these crimes from occurring.
Here are the top eight home security deficiencies which leave the door wide open for criminals:
1. Leaving Your Lights Off
If your house appears to be dark inside, most people will assume that nobody is home. Thieves will take notice of this activity (or lack thereof). Once they believe they have found an empty house, you could become their next victim.
Always leave some lights on, whether you are home or away. If you are leaving on vacation, have a friend change which lights are on each night. Alternatively, you can install programmable light switches with a “random vacation setting,” or you can put lamps on Christmas light timers. Porch lights should always be automated, and it is also a good idea to install motion-activated security lights around the perimeter of your home. Whatever money you save on your electric bill by leaving the lights off will never offset the cost of replacing everything you own, or worse, experiencing a tragedy.
2. Garage Door Openers in an Unlocked Car
Leaving your car doors unlocked could give a thief the key to your home! Sure, an ill-intentioned person could always perform a smash and grab to get your remote, but most thieves are opportunists and look for the low-hanging fruit. Be sure to lock your car doors and store garage door remotes out of sight.
3. Hide-A-Key, Plain to See
If you hide a house key under your doormat or a flower pot, you are asking to be robbed. These are the first places people will look when attempting to find a hidden key. Be creative in the placement of your key.
If a family member needs access, give them a key of their own. There’s no nonchalant way for them to arrive at your house and pull your spare key out of the bushes. Better yet, consider installing electronic door locks with keypads. Changing a combination is much easier than re-keying a door lock.
4. Letting Mail Pile Up While You Are Away
A skilled thief lives to see signs that no one has been around a home for several days. Packages all over the porch, newspapers scattered across the driveway, a mailbox that is overflowing; these are all ways someone can easily tell that no one is around. Before you leave on your family vacation, arrange for a friend to pick things up each day.
5. Leaving Large Pet Doors Unsecured
Hopefully, your family pet will earn its keep by warding off an intruder. If not, be sure that any pet doors are secured at night or while you are away. If you don’t secure that entry point, a cat burglar (pun intended) can make their way into your home. Buy pet doors that are equipped with a locking security panel.
6. Leaving the Emergency Pull Cord Unsecured on Your Roll-Up Garage Door
Yes, you read that right. Many people are shocked when they learn how easy it is to access a home through the garage door. By fishing a coat hanger through the top gasket of the garage door, an intruder can pull the emergency release cord, allowing the door to roll up freely. A pair of scissors is the only tool you will need to fix this problem. Check out this video to see just how easy it is to gain access to your house through your garage door.
7. The Empty Driveway
The next time you are cruising through your neighborhood, note how homes without vehicles in the driveway stand out. If you always pull your vehicles into the garage, be aware of how this looks to a criminal on the prowl. If you are going away for a while, consider leaving a vehicle in the driveway, even if it belongs to a neighbor.
8. Forgetting the Basics
Locking your doors and windows should go without saying. After all, they are your first line of defense. Unfortunately, many burglaries occur because the intruder found an unlocked door or window of opportunity. Most people will check their doors before leaving the house, but rarely does anyone take the time to check their windows. Kids are notorious for unlocking those things that “always stay locked.” Don’t get a false sense of security. Remember, never become complacent, and don’t forget the most basic fundamentals of home security. Lock your doors and windows!
Most thieves are cowards who are looking for an easy score, not a confrontation with a homeowner. However, if you catch someone entering your house, there’s no telling what they might do. People do crazy things to avoid going to jail. In a situation where you encounter an intruder, your mindset will have to shift from home security to home defense. Are you ready?