Cheap and easy ways to deter crime
By Lori Melton
Many people might be shocked to learn that of the 1.4 million-plus residential burglaries reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program for 2010, 722,231 of them were committed during the day and 389,910 of them happened at night. These numbers make sense, though, if a thief is looking for a time when a house is most likely empty; such as during the day while everyone is at work or school or when you’re away from home on a vacation.
If you don’t have the money for a sophisticated home security system and are looking for inexpensive ways to fend off thieves, some easily implemented tactics only require common sense and planning. Here are eight cheap and easy ways to ward off unwanted home intruders.
Join or Start a Neighborhood Watch Group
Joining forces with your neighbors via a neighborhood watch group can help keep burglars at bay at all times of the day. Rotate patrol days and times on a regular schedule and report suspicious behavior to the rest of the group via a phone tree, private Facebook group, or text or email group distribution list. Above all, if you see someone attempting to break into a residence or any other strange or suspicious behavior, never put yourself in danger. Dial 911 immediately.
Double-Check and Reinforce Points of Entry
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 40 percent of unlawful entries to unoccupied residences, offenders gained access through an unlocked door or window. Therefore, before you leave the house for any reason and before you go to bed, make sure you’ve locked all of the doors and windows. Sounds simple, right? But, with increasing demands of busy, multi-tasking schedules it can be easy to simply fly out the door and forget.
You can also take extra measures to reinforce entry points by adding one or more deadbolts and a security chain to your door. Inserting metal or wooden reinforcing rods to the back track of sliding patio and deck doors keep the door from sliding open, even if the lock is picked. You can also place a pin or nail to window frames to limit the distance the window can be raised.
Have a Friend or Neighbor Collect Your Mail During a Vacation
Having newspapers and mail pile up while you’re on vacation gives burglars a heads up that you’re away for an extended time. Before you go away, make plans with a neighbor, friend or family member to pick up your mail and papers for you while you’re gone. It’s a small thing that can make a huge difference. Homes that “look empty” are obviously more apt to attract intruders.
Use Light Timers
You can use light timers to turn on your lights and give crooks the impression that someone is home while you’re away – whether you are on vacation or work late shifts. You can find relatively inexpensive programmable models that will automatically turn your lights on at different times and intervals at Walmart, Target and Amazon, starting as low as $15.99.
Be Social Media Savvy
If you have social media pages that are set to public view, don’t post pictures or diary-style entries about all the fun you’re having miles away from home. This could alert thieves-in-waiting that your house is ripe for a raid. Also, do not post pictures of your household treasures, or picture of outside of your house showing your house number or other identifying signs. Another option is to only share your social media sites with close friends, family and people you’ve known for a really long time.
Don’t Entice Burglars
You can unwittingly draw a burglar to your house by tipping them off to your valuable household possessions. It’s important to be especially vigilant about displaying the latest high tech toys or appliances you got during the holiday season. Chances are a thief isn’t going to plow through a bag of crumpled wrapping paper to look for hidden treasure in your dumpster. But, an empty box from your new laptop or flat screen TV could prompt one to break in and grab pricey items to cash in on at a pawn shop or on the streets.
Plus, it’s a good idea, whenever possible, to keep valuables away from windows. Position alluring items away from windows and glass doors and draw curtains and blinds at night to block street view.
Get a Guard Dog
There’s nothing like a menacing growl or loud, persistent dog bark to stop thieves in their tracks. Not only will a dog potentially scare an intruder away but, a covert canine pal will also alert you that someone is there or something is wrong, so you can call the police if necessary. There are plenty of loving, wonderful pooches at animal shelters and rescue facilities that would be thrilled to find a good home.
Use Alarm System Stickers and Signs
If you can’t afford an alarm system and monthly monitoring fees, placing alarm or monitoring stickers on your windows and signs in your front yard may still deter criminals. Given a choice between a house with them and a house without them, chances are a thief will be more inclined to stay away from the house with the postings.