You know that sage advice that goes something along the lines of, “To understand someone, you have to walk a mile in his shoes”? While that saying, or some version of it, is usually reserved for discussing the importance of empathy in understanding someone else’s actions, especially under adverse conditions, it’s a useful tool when figuring out the motivations of just about any person in your life, including would-be burglars. Thinking like a burglar isn’t all that difficult; that’s because outside of blockbuster action and suspense movies, most burglars are a pretty non-creative sort. They want the easiest, least complicated way to enter your home while avoiding observation. With that in mind, here are a few tips that can help you “think like a burglar” to evaluate your own home’s security risks and needs:
- Do you ever leave your door unlocked when you make a “quick” run to the grocery store or on some other errand? Your neighborhood may seem safe enough, but homeowner indifference like this can provide just the opportunity a burglar needs to get into your home. Locking and unlocking your doors only takes a few seconds; make sure you do it each time you leave your home to significantly increase your security.
- Be watchful of any repair person you let into your home. Use reputable companies – look for reviews online or ask neighbor or coworkers for recommendations. Even then, be sure to check windows and doors once the repair person leaves to make sure they haven’t left one unlocked, either unintentionally or intentionally. The same applies to your bathroom window if a repair person or tradesman asks to use your bathroom while in your home. Remember: Most burglars are part-timers with legitimate jobs, and they often pursue careers that afford them home access.
- Selling items from your home is probably not a good idea. Advertising on sites like Craigslist can be a good way to get rid of items and make some cash, but letting strangers come into your home generally is not a good idea. Meet them someplace else whenever possible, and when it comes to donating items, take the items to the donation center yourself or at least leave them at the curb so volunteers won’t have to enter your home.
- Going away? Have your mail and newspaper delivery suspended until you get back, and ask neighbors to keep an eye on your home and report suspicious activity. Also ask them to remove flyers from your doorknob or porch that can be a dead giveaway that no one’s home.
- Be sure to install sturdy window locks or burglar bars on all your windows – even the ones on upstairs bedrooms. Most homeowners assume upstairs windows are safe from break-ins – and of course, burglars know that too. That’s why they often target upstairs windows first.
- Avoid costly lawn ornaments. These often indicate to a burglar that there are more expensive goodies inside.
- Keep your curtains tightly drawn at night when interior lights make it easy to see inside your home. An evening stroll for a burglar is about more than getting some exercise: It’s about scoping out his or her next target.
- Beware of anyone you don’t know who knocks on your door. Most towns have laws that require salespeople to apply for and receive a permit to go door to door. Ask to see it before opening your door, or simply say “no thanks” without opening your door at all.
- Don’t post your vacation plans on Facebook. Scanning Facebook posts is a popular way for burglars to find out who’s home and who’s not. Keep your plans off social media, and on personal accounts, only “friend” people you know and have reason to trust.
Thinking like a burglar isn’t so hard when you apply a little common sense. Implementing a few simple habits is all it takes to make your home more secure.