It is not "if" the burglar comes, but "when". So say the statistics. The burglar is coming down your street and looking for easy targets. Most burglars look for easy targets because they are not professionals, as a rule. They are amateurs looking for easy targets. Enough easy targets make residential burglary one of the fastest growing crimes in recent years. This information is designed to help you avoid making your home look like an easy target. There are simple, basic security measures that will make your home less inviting and, in so doing, cause the burglar to look elsewhere for an easier target. Follow these guidelines as presented by the Washington State Crime Prevention Association.
Will these precautions and tips guarantee your home to be burglar safe? No. Short of making your home into an armed fortress, there is no way to do that. But these basic security precautions will make your home less inviting as a target. And that is the whole idea! So share them with friends and neighbors.
Make Your Home Look & Sound Occupied
By day, leave drapes and shades in normal position - the way you have them when at home. Don't leave easily movable valuables in sight close to windows or in plain view.
At night, leave on some inside lights - bathrooms and hallways, for example. Consider buying automatic timers that turn lamps on after dark, then off a few hours later or at dawn. These timers can turn a radio on, too, so your home sounds occupied.
Never leave garage doors open, especially with no car in sight. This is like a welcome sign to burglars. It's best to keep your garage door closed even when you're at home. When leaving for longer periods, don't forget to remove easily stolen objects like a power mower, garden hose, lawn chairs, bicycles and the like from your yard and keep them safely locked up.
Be a Good Neighbor
Keep an eye on your neighbors' homes and get them to do the same for you. If you see something suspicious - movement inside when a home should be empty, a strange car or truck in the driveway, a loiterer - call 911 immediately. Make a reasonable effort to get a good description and license number, without endangering yourself. Burglars have been known to use a truck and openly carry off valuable possessions. If neighbors have not mentioned moving, be suspicious. Police would rather you call than wished you had called.
Install Good Locks & Lock Them
Many homes are guarded only by spring-latch door locks. Also, older doors and frames may have become worn, leaving a pronounced gap that allows easy prying. So be sure to check them too. There is 1 lock which crime prevention experts recommend. It is a single cylinder deadbolt lock with a 1-inch throw. This type of lock provides better security than what many homes now have. You can get more information from the Bremerton Police Community Resource Unit.
Besides good locks, it's also a good idea to have a 220 degree wide-angle viewer (peep-hole) in your front door so you can find out who is outside without opening your door to a possibly dangerous stranger. Such viewers are inexpensive and easy to install. They are much better than chain latches, which are easy to force loose.
Be sure locks are firmly screwed into solid wood, not just into a light door jamb. The longer the screws and the longer the lock bolt, the safer your home will be. The screws that come in many packages are too short for good security.
For windows, install auxiliary, non-keyed locking devices. They are inexpensive and provide some extra security. Another idea is to get wedge devices that prevent windows from being opened, or allow the window to be opened an inch or 2 for ventilation, but prevent opening them wider. Sliding glass doors are a special problem because they can be forced open sideways or simply popped out of the track. There are various inexpensive items, such as a Charlie Bar or supplemental locks, which will give you better protection. Again, check with your community resource specialist.
The best locking device in the world is worthless if it isn't locked. Always lock up, even if you're away from home for only minutes. Houses have been cleaned out while the owner was mowing the lawn or visiting with a neighbor. Remember, a lock is not a lock unless you lock it.
Change Locks at the Hint of a Threat
Any licensed locksmith can change the tumblers in your outside door locks quickly and inexpensively. So when you move into a home or apartment, have it done. If you lose a key, change the lock tumbler.
Don't be generous in passing around extra keys. One might end up in the hands of someone you don't trust. Don't leave an "emergency" key under the doormat, on top of the door-frame, or in any other hiding spot so well known to burglars.
Keep car keys and house keys separate. This way your house keys are never left in the possession of a stranger when you park your car at a garage or parking lot. Never have a name or license tag attached to your house keys. If keys are lost or stolen, you'll have an unwelcome visitor very quickly.
Do Not Welcome Burglars by Telephone
Burglars often try to find out if anyone is home by phoning. If you get several suspicious "wrong number" calls or "nobody at the other end" calls, tell the police. Warn family members, especially children, not to give out information by phone, especially about who is home, who is out and how long anyone is expected to be out. Make it harder for burglars to "case" your home by phone by avoiding names on mailboxes or on doors. Your name on display only makes it easier for the burglar to look up your number in the directory.
Do Not Open Your Door
This is not just to guard against robbery by force or threat of force, sometimes burglars who have no intention of using force will first try to get in under some pretext so they can scout out valuables and study locks, windows and other means of entry. Ask repair people and others who claim to have business inside to show positive identification, and keep the door closed while your study the identification through the peephole.
If you have the slightest doubt, telephone their superiors back at work, getting the number from your directory. If you wish to help a lost or stranded motorist, you make the call while he or she waits outside. When you do admit a worker or a salesperson you were expecting, do not leave them alone at any time.
Do Not Reward the Burglar
If, despite your precautions, a burglar does get into your home, do not offer a "bonus" of cash or easily carried jewelry. Never keep large sums of cash around the house. Keep valuable jewelry that you do not often use in a safety deposit box.
Keep a dog at your house if you can. Your dog need not be big or ferocious. If the dog makes noise (and most dogs will) that is enough to cause a burglar to look for easier and quieter pickings. It is best to install a good alarm system, but buy only from reputable, established dealers and ask for their references. Local crime prevention officers cannot recommend specific brands or companies, but they can provide general information on types of alarm systems.