If you ever wondered what the chances are that an intruder will find his way into your home, you'll want to read on. According to the FBI, the United States leads the world in burglary occurrences with over 2.2 million instances each year.
In fact, 23.8 percent of property claims involve burglary, causing an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property. Plus, with only 13 percent of burglaries cleared by police, the likelihood of retrieving your stolen items is fairly small.
This brings up two important questions:
Are there items that make homes more susceptible to burglary?
What can be done to help prevent it?
Below is a breakdown on where and how burglaries occur, along with some additional information on protecting your residence from potential break-ins.
Where do burglaries occur? Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved a forcible entry with another 33.2 percent as unlawful entries (without force). The majority of break-ins occur in the following locations:
Front Door: 34%
First-Floor Windows: 23%
Side Entry: 22%
What can I do to help prevent it?
Protect the House:
Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
Keep your garage door closed and locked.
Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
Push button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.
Don't Tempt a Thief:
Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles should be stored out of sight.
Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
Locks…Get the Best:
No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security.
Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
When moving into a new home, have all locks changed.
Targeting the Outside:
Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
Make sure your door hinges are on the inside.
Most windows can be pinned for security.
Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.
An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There is a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
If you have a home alarm system, use it! Activate your alarm system — Alarm systems are only useful when you remember to activate them.
Many individuals have alarm systems but do not arm them because it is inconvenient. Many burglars know this and will not be deterred by a window sticker or sign indicating that the home has an alarm system.
If Your Home Is Broken Into:
If you come home to find an unexplained open/broken window or door:
Do not enter - the perpetrator may still be inside.
Use a neighbor's phone to call police.
Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.
Other precautions you should take:
Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places -- burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home — this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory.