Newsflash! Your golden retriever’s ferocious bark will not protect your home while you’re away. On The Discovery Channel’s It Takes a Thief, homeowners watch horrified as their dogs greet former thieves like welcome guests. They sat stunned as they witnessed how quickly a potential thief could find hidden treasures, including jewelry, cash and other valuables that burglars go after.
Let’s take a look at burglary statistics, common burglar behaviors and what makes a home attractive to thieves so you can take measures to help secure your home.
Burglary statistics in the U.S.
These burglary statistics from Alarms.org highlight the importance of protecting your family and property, as well as when your home is most vulnerable.
- Most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when no one is likely to be at home
- Snow and cold can deter burglaries from happening, with the lowest rate of burglaries occurring in February
- Summer has the highest burglary rates
- Homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized
- 83% of burglars admit to looking to see if there’s a home alarm system installed
- 30% of burglaries involve a weapon
Common burglar behaviors
Reformed ex-cons Matt Johnston and Jon Douglas Rainey, from It Takes a Thief, give their perspective on what burglars seek. Common methods used for successfully robbing homes and stashing goods include:
- Thieves always look under the mat, beneath rocks and between crannies for spare keys
- Burglars scour neighborhoods with common brands of remote openers, looking for garage doors that will open
- Thieves look for lawn mowers, tools, hunting supplies and outdoor goods carelessly left outside or not locked up in sheds
- Burglars are not deterred by cars in the driveway because they know they could be decoys
- Thieves often target people they know because they’re already aware of what valuables are inside the house
What makes your home attractive to burglars?
If you want to protect your home from burglaries or break-ins, it helps to have the mindset of a thief. Thieves know what a vulnerable home looks like. They want an easy target that allows them to get in and get out quickly with the least chance of being seen.
Common home exterior weaknesses
Unless they’re secured, the following parts of your home are the most common ways burglars get into homes. Check exterior entrances to make sure your home’s locked tight and secure.
- Unlocked garage doors – A garage side or back door is one of the first places a thief looks for to get into your home since many homeowners fail to lock exterior garage doors.
- Easy-to-access garage door openers – Unlocked cars are easy targets, and if your garage door opener is in your car, thieves have easy access to your garage and possibly the rest of your home.
- Unlocked first-floor windows – Many home burglaries occur in the summer months, when many of us may be opening our windows to let in some sun. Keep in mind open windows also create a hidden point of entry for burglars. Make sure you have curtains on your windows to prevent a thief from seeing inside.
- A weak door frame – A weak door frame can grant a burly burglar easy access to your home. For any exterior doors, it’s important to reinforce your frame with long, heavy-duty strike plates.
- Doors without deadbolts – If you don’t already have them, make sure to install deadbolts on all your doors. The small investment now could save you quite a bit later. Remember, thieves are always looking for an easy entry point.
Common things that make a home enticing to burglars
Besides checking for entrances that let burglars easily steal your stuff, you should also see if your home displays signs that make it a strategic target for burglars. Check out signs that may indicate you should be their next target.
- Places of concealment – Do you have a thick cover of landscaping around your house? This may be great for giving you privacy, but it can also work in a burglar’s favor. Keep thick landscaping cleared from around doors and windows.
- Clues that you’re away – When you go on vacation, make sure to have your yard mowed or your driveway shoveled on a regular basis. Also, arrange to have your mail and newspapers picked up so it’s not as obvious you’re not there. You can also use other vacation security tips like using a timer to automatically have lights turn on and off or requesting packages not be delivered unless you’re there to sign.
- Evidence of expensive purchases – Don’t advertise your new purchases by leaving the labeled boxes along the street for garbage pickup. An empty flat-screen TV box or Mac laptop box in a recycling bin outside your house may attract unwanted attention.
- A common digital weakness leaving you vulnerable – A weak Wi-Fi password could let hackers strategically break into your network and access your home security devices such as your camera, smart lock, door sensors and more. Many smart home security developers are not digital security experts, so you’ll want to check the network security of new smart home products before you install them.
Tips for protecting your home against burglars
Strategically protect your home now that you know what burglars seek when searching for loot. Consider some of the following tips to make your home less vulnerable and ensure your valuables are safe even if a thief does trespass.
- Install locks or secondary security devices on all accessible windows so they can’t be opened far enough for someone to crawl through from the outside
- Make sure exterior doors are solid-core doors installed in a sturdy frame with long screws and have heavy-duty deadbolts so they can’t be kicked open
- Place security bars over your basement windows and around your home’s removable AC units to prevent intruders from crawling inside
- Plant thorny shrubs, rosebushes or cacti around the outside of your home, especially near windows to further discourage burglars from entering your property
- Keep all points of entry to your home well lit. Consider installing motion-sensor lights on the rear and sides of your home. Also, position them in out-of-reach places so they can’t easily be turned off by an intruder
- Install security cameras inside and outside your home
- Install a wireless security system and house alarm system
- Carefully choose who you tell about your vacations and don’t publicize it on social media
- Lock up lawn tools and hide other valuable items in secure places
Learn more about home security and home monitoring systems by visiting Allconnect®. Check out our resource center for more tips and tricks on maximizing your home security, internet service, home entertainment and more.
Originally published 07/21/11. Last updated 08/20/19.