There are many factors that can make your home a better target for burglary than other homes. For example, your house is at greater risk if:
- It sits on a corner lot (more visible to a browsing burglar and a natural place to stop and ask for directions)
- It is located close to a major highway exit (less than 1 mile)
- It is located on a through street, which gives a burglar a quicker escape (dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs are safer)
- It borders a wooded area or playground (provides concealed access for burglars)
- It is in a wealthier neighborhood
- It features no signs of young children living there (burglars avoid as someone may be home)
- It was recently purchased (burglars know you haven’t yet developed close familiarity with neighbors)
What can you do to prevent yourself from being a target or stop a criminal if they try to get in? You probably know some of the more common tips, such as:
- Install a burglar alarm and/or put up an alarm system sign.
- Don’t let mail and newspapers build up.
- Set lights on timers to give the appearance someone is home.
- Have motion activated exterior lights.
- Adopt a dog that will make noise if they hear someone attempting to get in.
But there are actually easy ways to make your house considerably more secure. One especially important way to prevent break ins is actually pretty simple. Have a good deadlock. 65% of break ins occur by forcing a door open. 12% occur because the criminal finds your “hidden” key.
“I have a deadlock, so I’m safe.” Not necessarily. St. Louis is filled with older homes, and many deadlocks are outdated. Do you know the grade of your deadlock? You should always go for Grade 1 deadbolts, they are the most effective. Shorter deadbolts makes it easier to break your door. For example, look at this older deadbolt compared to a newer Grade 1 model:
“I have a new deadbolt, so I’m safe.” Once again, not necessarily. A deadbolt is only as effective as the nails you use. How long are the nails that connect your deadbolt to your door frame? Many come with short 1/2 – 1 inch nails. With nails that short, it is easy to break the frame of your door. You should replace all of your nails with ones at least 3 inches long. These longer nails will go into the studs of your house and make it extremely hard to break down your door. Look at this example:
Simple things like having better deadbolts and nails, locking up when you leave, not leaving an accessible “hidden” key, and working together with your neighbors to keep an eye on your block are effective ways of protecting your home. Remember, not all locks are built the same. Don’t let this be you:
Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern
Thank you to “The Family Handyman” for providing information and photos on deadbolt improvement. Visit their website to learn how to install new deadbolts/nails yourself.
Information on houses being targets was taken from a research study, “Knowing Your Odds: Home Burglary and the Odds Ratio,” by S. Hakim, G. Renger and Y. Shachamurove, City College of New York and University of Pennsylvania, Sept. 2000