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Tips to keep your home secure from burglars

Dear Heather,

I heard there had been some break-ins in my area recently. What are the best things I can do to prevent that happening to me?

Worried About home security

Dear Worried,

The thought of a break-in is terrifying, but are you doing everything you can to prevent one? You might be making critical mistakes that make your home a burglar magnet or failing to take advantage of easy fixes that will make your home less attractive to thieves. Taking a few steps can help ensure you are not one of the unlucky ones.

Protecting your house during the day

When someone breaks into your house, it is usually in the middle of the night. A masked, anonymous man swipes your jewellery before fleeing in an unmarked car. Right? Well, apparently not.

According to police reports, the reality is that many break-ins take place during the day. Burglars tend to prefer this time as quite often people are out at work. Most burglaries are drug-involved. Medicine cabinets, cash, jewellery and small electronics are often the targets as these items can be easily carried and sold on the black market.

That means making sure a home is secure during the day is every bit as important as securing it at night. Examining the exterior of your home by walking the perimeter and taking note of areas of concern is the first step.

If you can easily tell that a window could be prised open, a thief will definitely be able to come to the same conclusion; a good security company will provide a courtesy home assessment that can help you identify any weak spots.

Leaving doors or windows open

The number of burglars who have accessed a home through a window or door left unlocked is disturbing. Making sure locks are strong and in good working order is key to protecting your place.

Upgrade your door

Most burglars enter open windows or doors or force windows or doors open. You can help make sure you are not one of the ones who comes home to a kicked-in door by making a smart upgrade. A solid wood door that cannot be easily breached might just make someone turn around and move on to another home.

Get a deadbolt

New door or not, adding a deadbolt is a great deterrent for criminals. Other types of locks can be easily picked, and often it takes no more than the swipe of a credit card.

Change the locks

Did you change the locks when you moved into your house? Whether you just took possession today or have lived in the home for a few years, getting a fresh new lock and set of keys is easy, and smart. You never know if there is a key floating around out there that could give someone immediate access to your place.

Do not hide a key

While we are talking about keys — that whole key under the rock thing isn't fooling anyone. It is time to cut that out.

Secure sliding doors

Sliding patio doors can be an open invitation to burglars because they typically create a simple forced-entry opportunity. A curtain rod or pole cut to size and placed in the sliding track can keep the door from budging. This easy, budget-friendly tip can make the difference between a home that is an easy target and one that causes a criminal to look elsewhere.

A poorly lit yard

When the sun goes down, it is time to apply another layer of protection to keep your home and your family safe. Lights are a great place to start. Not only will a good lighting system highlight your home and landscaping, but it will make it less likely that your home will be targeted. Motion-sensor lighting is great, especially for darker areas, and newer products combine motion sensors with video playback.

Be smart about lighting

Just as you want your home to be well lit to discourage a would-be burglar, you do not want it to be too lit at certain times. A home whose lights stay on all night long for a few days in a row is a tip-off to someone casing the neighbourhood that the residents are probably on vacation. Put it on a timer if you are going away.

Trim those hedges

Tall hedges or other greenery close to the house can act as hiding places for burglars. If you do want landscaping up close to your house, I would suggest planting thorny shrubs by your windows to make it not only difficult to break in, but painful! And don't forget about second storeys. A tree can be climbed for access to a window, so prune those branches.

Get to know your neighbours

You know when nosy neighbours can come in really handy? When they notice and alert you to questionable activity around your home. Crime tends to be lower in tight-knit communities because neighbours are more likely to look out for each other and can easily spot a stranger.

Your neighbours can be one of your best assets in home crime prevention because they offer extra eyes and an outside perspective. Plus, if they have a different work or school schedule from yours, they might be around during the day when you are away and can alert you to any suspicious activity that may occur in your absence.

Keep your plans to yourself

You may want to brag online about your European vacation and post pictures from every city on your month-long tour, but consider who may be seeing or hearing what you are putting out there. In these types of situations, anyone could overhear you and know that your home is going to stand empty for a few days, creating the perfect opportunity to target your home. It is especially important to emphasise to children that when they mention outings innocently on their social networking pages, they are opening the door to strangers who might want to burglarise your home while you are out.

Get an alarm

If you are on the fence about the expense of an alarm system, burglars are put off by alarms, outdoor cameras and other surveillance equipment. And on that note, be careful when buying big ticket items not to leave the telltale box beside your trash pick up — that is like advertising to would-be thieves that you have the latest and greatest goods.

Get a security camera

Several thieves have been caught on security camera in Bermuda lately. It is a wonderful way to identify who your intruder or attempted intruder was. Bermuda is a small place, it is usually not long before someone recognises them.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty's leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for nearly 30 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

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Published February 06, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 06, 2018 at 9:17 am)

Tips to keep your home secure from burglars

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