If you want to protect your home from burglaries or break-ins, you need 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.
If you think like a burglar, then you can spot potential weaknesses in your home’s security and correct them before a thief can take advantage of them.
Common home exterior weaknesses
Unless they’re secured, the following parts of your home are some of the most common ways burglars get into homes. Check exterior entrances to make sure your home’s locked tight and secure.
Unlocked garage doors
What better opportunity to break into a house without being spotted than from inside a garage? 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 their garage’s exterior doors. Often, these doors are located within the fenced part of the yard which provides even more cover for an intruder.
Easy-to-access garage door openers
Almost as bad as an unlocked garage door is leaving your car unlocked in your driveway with an electronic garage door opener. Even if you think your car makes it look like you’re home, thieves aren’t deterred and aren’t afraid to check to see if you are home. If you’re not around, they’ll look to see what valuable items you’ve left in your car as well as see if your garage door opener is in your car. And when the electronic opener is there, they’re more than happy to use it so they can break into your home from the garage.
First floor windows
First floor windows are another inviting entry point for thieves. Statistics from Alarms.org show that most home burglaries occur in the summer months. This makes sense because leaving a window open is the next best thing to leaving your front door open. When you leave your home be sure to close all your windows.
Make sure to have curtains on your windows to prevent a thief from seeing inside. If you have an alarm system installed, be sure to place the warning stickers on the inside of your windows. Another deterrent is to plant low growing thorny bushes in front of your windows. They won’t detract from your view and will keep thieves at bay.
A weak door frame
Burglars aren’t dumb and many understand that even with strong hardware on a door, a home likely has a weak door frame that allows them to kick the door, split the door frame and then easily open the door. For any exterior door, it’s important to reinforce your frame with long, heavy-duty strike plates.
Common signs your home would make an easy target
Besides checking for entrances that let burglars easily steal your stuff, you should also check to see if your home displays signs that may make it a strategic target for burglars. Are you leaving expensive lawn equipment outside that suggests you own some valuable items they might want to take? 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. Nothing is more attractive to a thief than a house where he can stay concealed while breaking in. Keep thick landscaping cleared from around doors and windows.
Signs 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 that 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.
Doors without deadbolts
Old doors without deadbolts are an easy entry for a burglar. 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 on. Remember, thieves are looking for an easy entry. An old door visible from the street is an open invitation for a burglar to mark your home as a potential target.
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
Believe it or not, 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.
If you notice that parts of your home need fixed or bolstered, address those areas to make sure that you, your family and your personal belongings are safe from thieves and potential harm.
Originally published 9/22/13. Last updated 12/5/18.