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Guest Post by Kelly McNulty
In 2017, close to 8 million property crimes were committed. And part of being a homeowner or renter is to avoid becoming a part of a similar statistic by taking steps to protect your property and your stuff.
The best way to stop a thief is to think like a thief.
Here are some things that burglars know and think about but may not be so obvious to a homeowner. You can use this knowledge to think like a criminal and deter burglars from picking your home to hit next.
1. Big dogs aren’t worth my trouble
Even if your dog is a big wimp, most burglars say they won't bother breaking into a home with a big dog. Dealing with a big dog isn’t worth the potential injury and distraction. Many a burglar has found him or herself cornered by a big dog, and ironically, relieved when the cops arrived.
If you're an animal lover, consider buying a breed with some size — and a tendency to bark. And don't hesitate to post a "Beware of Dog" sign to prompt burglars to look elsewhere.
2. My time is valuable
Burglars are trying to get in and get out as fast as possible. Even small delays increase the chances of someone coming home or the police being called. Because of this, never make it easy for intruders to get into or move through your house.
Install deadbolt locks and other barriers that make it harder for someone to access your home. The more time you buy, the more you minimize potential loss.
A good idea is a home security system that alerts the police. Thieves familiar with available systems — even a system they can bypass — will know that your system has alerted the police and that they have to get out even faster.
3. An alarm or home security system may not stop me
Just because you have an alarm system doesn't mean it's enough to stop an intruder. Always upgrade to newer and better home security systems to keep one step ahead of burglars’ ability to figure systems out and disarm them.
When you pick a home security system, choose one that alerts the police, which can cut the burglar’s time short. Also, choose one with an audible alarm. An audible alarm will send a lot of burglars running.
Ironically, a home security camera can be good or bad for your likelihood of getting robbed. While some burglars shy away from a security camera, others see it as an advertisement that you have something worth stealing.
4. I work the same hours you do
People’s biggest fear is being woken up by a burglar in the middle of the night. While that can happen, burglars tend to work the same hours most people do and prefer to break in during the afternoon hours when no one is home. The key to success is minimizing obstacles, and a house full of sleeping people creates more risk than most burglars want to take.
A time like 2:30 p.m. is perfect for burglars. People are usually at work, and those that go home for lunch have usually gone back to work by then. And it’s a bit early for kids to be home from school.
When you’re aware of the times of day that burglars prefer, you can plan accordingly.
One trick to try — a car parked in your driveway can deter burglars because it says that someone is home.
5. I don’t want to work too hard
Along with getting in and out fast, burglars will take the path of least resistance. And out of sight can be out of danger. To prevent losing your valuables, keep them out of sight. Store your jewelry and other valuables in a home safe — one that’s bolted down so burglars can’t take it with them. When possible, install electronics in a way that makes them difficult to quickly and easily disconnect.
Also consider storing your valuable collectibles in places that can't easily be found or accessed, such as a locking curio cabinet.
Don't leave cash lying around. Losing those hard-earned dollars can be frustrating, so make trips to the bank as often possible or stash that cash in the safe with your jewelry.
6. I’m watching you
Burglars often watch to determine your patterns — when you’re home and when you’re not. So assume you're always being watched and act accordingly. Many burglars will do things like post pizza coupons on your door to see how long it takes for the coupon to be removed.
Vary your comings and goings when you can. And, if you're going on vacation, get a friend, neighbor, or relative to house sit or stop by each day. If it snows, have them make tracks in and out, even tire tracks in your driveway to make your home look occupied.
An obviously unoccupied home draws attention, so do what you can to make it look lived in.
Also, consider closing your blinds on rooms that face the street at night. Burglars will drive by to see what goods are sitting inside. And if they can’t see them, they won’t be tempted to try and take them.
While you don't need to walk around paranoid, keep in mind that people stopping by to offer air conditioner service or yard work may be casing your home. Burglars are often people that blend right in, so keep a watch on your house and don't give people the grand tour until they've earned your trust.
7. I’m lazy and will check your locks
Burglars would rather not break a window or door if they don’t have to. Install strong, durable windows, and keep them locked. That goes for doors too. Many burglars break in because windows or doors were simply left unlocked.
Also secure the garage door that leads into your house, so that burglars can't easily get in and out. It's easy to use your garage door opener to come in after a long day of work and forget to properly close or lock the door into the house. A raggedy garage door quickly becomes a primary target for someone looking to break in.
What should you do if your home gets burglarized?
Keep an inventory of your valuables, collectibles, and electronics. An inventory makes it easier to file an insurance claim if you’re burglarized. Get the police out as quickly as you can so that you can file a report. Take inventory of your credit cards and cancel any that are missing or left lying around after a robbery.
If some have gone missing, consider getting a credit freeze, credit lock, or fraud alert so that your burglary doesn’t also lead to identity theft.
Kelly McNulty is the content manager for Credit.com and Blog.credit.com. She has more than 20 years of content management, marketing and copywriting experience in the financial, technology and health and wellness industries. Outside of work, she’s the proud Malamute mom of Aster.