PROTECTING a home from break-ins is high up on everyone’s priority list.
But fending off burglars and thieves doesn’t always require one to buy expensive security systems, or plonking down cash to turn houses into impenetrable forts.
The following are some simple, inexpensive ways to burglar or theft-proof your house against unwanted intruders.
Reinforce the doors and locks
According to the The Telegraph’s “How to burglar-proof your home - tips from an ex-thief,” a shabby-looking door is an open invitation for thieves.
“If your front door looks tatty, or if it only has one cylinder lock instead of a cylinder lock plus deadlock, it will catch a thief’s eye.
Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate points out that thieves generally prefer to use the front door.
“Creeping out a window is hard, and it’s far more difficult when carting out a load of loot. Thieves typically test a house by first ringing the bell to ensure no one’s home, then trying the door handle and perhaps putting a shoulder to the door to see how solid and how firmly attached it is.
“To enter, the usual tool is a pry bar or a strong kick of the boot. Sadly, many doors fly open easily.”
Reinforcing your front entrance with a steel gate is a popular and common option to protect your front door.
Secure the perimeter
According to the Malaysian Department of Statistics, the bulk of burglaries tend to take place in the night rather than in the day. According to its Crime Index for the year 2009, a total of 27,060 burglaries took place in the night compared with 11,396 burglaries in the day.
This clearly justifies the need to reinforce the security around your home.
“Replacing porch lights and other outdoor lights with motion-sensor lights is cheap and easy,” writes Lewis.
With the bulk of burglaries taking place in the night, it makes sense to “light up the house,” says ABCNews.
“Scare off those burglars with motion-sensor lights. Look for ones with adjustable sensitivity to avoid getting a false alarm from things like tree branches rustling. And keep the outside of your home illuminated an all sides using energy-efficient compact fluorescent,” it says.
Buying a good alarm system is also a viable option – provided it doesn’t cost you a bomb. Lewis says many people spend thousands of dollars buying, leasing and installing electronic alarms, and then sign contracts requiring them to shell out thousands more to a company that monitors the alarm.
“A 30-second alarm blast should scare away intruders. Also, newer alarms can be programmed to do what monitoring companies do first anyway: phone you (or text you) when the alarm has been tripped.”
Make the house seem “lived in”
Even if you’re not home (be it out at work or away on vacation), don’t give the impression that there’s no one at home.
“Make sure you don’t give obvious clues that you’re not home. Turn down the telephone ringer, so burglars won’t hear you aren’t there. Make the house seem like someone is home with lamps or a radio on a timer,” says ABCNews.
“(Also) don’t leave mail piled up in the mailbox if you’re away. Again, you’re telling the thieves what’s going on, that you’re not home,” it says, adding that if you do go away on vacation, “don’t blab on Facebook when you’re leaving town.”
If you have newspapers delivered to your home, inform the vendor that you’ll be away, or get your neighbour to remove them from your doorstep.
Says Lewis: “When you’re gone, don’t let stuff like newspapers, real-estate cards and pizza fliers accumulate in front of your door.
“Leave a vehicle in your carport or in front of the house if possible. Ask a neighbour or friend to help you out by parking there. Get friends to pick up newspapers, cut the grass, water plants, feed pets and open and close curtains, varying their routine to add a note of unpredictability if possible.”
Get a dog
Owning a dog is an inexpensive and effective way to keep robbers at bay.
ABCNews, in its article “5 Ways to Avoid a Break-In: Confessions of an Ex-Burglar,” speaks to a former convict that actually confirms this fact: “No burglar wants to deal with a dog and so won’t take the chance and probably will avoid the neighbours’ houses, too.”
Lewis, meanwhile, notes that while owning a dog may not make your property impregnable, it can, however, make the home less approachable.
“You don’t want a pooch? That’s okay. Post a “beware of dog” sign anyway.”Lewis cites Chris McGoey, a security expert and consultant who doesn’t have a dog, but owns a sign and makes a point of asking service people to wait before entering his property, so that he can “put the dog in the house.”
“The sign is cheap. It makes people think twice,” says McGoey.