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Even though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself without installing top-dollar security features.
Home burglary generally has a pattern; criminals are looking for an easy target they can rob fast. Learn from the pros. Here are six tips from career burglars you can use to defend your home and prevent break-ins.
1. Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time
Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours—the last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Weekdays are ideal for thieves, since weekend schedules are too unpredictable. Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. are the most popular times because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school.
2. They Know When You’re Not Home—Thanks to Social Media
While it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos and exotic location check-ins until you’re back home. Criminals scout public social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare to find victims.
Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. The same survey found one burglar stole over $250,000 in electronics and jewelry from 33 women he saw in public—he used GPS data embedded in photos they posted online to find their homes.
Even if all your accounts are private, that old friend from high school or new neighbor down the street could be a potential criminal. Never post what times you’re not home or how long you’ll be out.
3. They Don’t Like Your Security Practices
Burglars want nothing to do with alarm systems (whether they’re from the best home security companies or not). Homes without a security system are almost 300 percent more likely to be targeted for a break-in. If you do install an alarm system, make sure you guard it with a strong code. Don’t use your house number or birthday, and clean any dirt or grease off your keypad so a burglar won’t guess your code based off the numbers you’ve hit the most. Unlocked windows, unused deadbolts, poorly lit homes, and residences without security systems are prime targets for burglars, so make sure you are using the security features you already have.
Also, tricks that make it look like you’re home really work, professional burglars reveal. Burglars run from properties that look like people are inside. Motion sensor lights, bright flood lights, and timed lights are inexpensive security features for a home’s exterior that scare criminals away. TVs or radios left on, as well as cars parked in the driveway, make burglars nervous that someone is home.
Using these tips can help you protect your home from break-ins. Also, be sure to research crime rates and trends in your neighborhood and state. Just like some houses are safer than others, some states are safer than others.