Deter Home Break-Ins During Summer

Insurance & Consumer Tips
Locking the door by Bradley Gordon
Photo copyright Bradley Gordon

With families taking the last of their summer road trips, homeowners may be asking themselves how to deter home break-ins before leaving on vacation.  Home burglaries typically occur during summer while families are away or enjoying more time outdoors, according to insurance industry statistics.  Homes are burglarized about every 15 seconds and a homeowner loses about $2,300 in possessions and damages, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. 


Nearly 9 million property crimes take place annually, with losses of $16.6 billion, according to nationwide FBI crime statistics.  Top items consistently taken were cash, jewelry, electronics (laptops, and other portable devices), firearms and medications, according to the FBI.


“Homeowners and tenants can deter burglars by taking security precautions during summer when residents travel on vacation,” according to Jim Will, vice president of insurance claims for the Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club.


“Making your home look occupied and locking it to make break-ins difficult is the most significant deterrent to home burglary,” said Will. “Most home burglaries result from thieves gaining entry through unlocked doors or unlocked windows.”


Homeowners can also prevent easy access through sliding glass doors as well. Commercial locks or placing a steel rod dowel in the inside door track can prevent an intruder from forcing the door open, according to Will.  Home security systems also can be a theft deterrent. They can be installed through independent companies.  


The Auto Club’s tips to help prevent home burglaries are:


1.  Never announce your vacation plans on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or personal blogs.


2.  Lock all doors and windows before you leave. Use deadbolts, dowels, locking pins in sliding glass doors and windows to keep them from being pried open.  Slowing down a would-be burglar will likely make them seek another home that’s easier to break into.


3.  If possible, install a monitored alarm system in your home.  You may be eligible for a discount on your insurance premium after the system is installed. The Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club offers such a discount.  Make sure your home insurance is up to date and provides adequate coverage if you own luxury goods, jewelry and electronics.  Check to see if you need an additional rider or floater insurance policy for those items from your Auto Club or other insurance representative.


4.Keep the exterior of your home and yard well lit with low-wattage outdoor lighting.


5.Close and lock the garage door. Side garage doors should be solid, without any glass and equipped with a strong deadbolt.


6.Stop deliveries, mail and newspapers, or ask a trustworthy neighbor or friend to pick them up. Don’t let mail, including bank statements and credit card offers, sit in the mailbox to advertise you’re away and tempt a thief to steal your identity. 


7.Use automatic timers with inside lamps and a radio.  Set them to come on at random times.


8.Remove spare keys from outside your home, especially near the front door or under a welcome mat. 


9.Trim front entrance bushes, including near windows. This eliminates a burglar hiding while breaking in.  Have your lawn mowed while you’re on vacation to keep up the appearance of being home. .


10.Keep some blinds up and curtains open to keep up normal appearances. Put away personal documents, and place critical documents in a safety deposit box or leave them with a relative.  Hide expensive jewelry or place in a bank safety deposit box. 


11.Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers and keep a copy in a safe place away from home.


12.Neighborhood Watch programs are great deterrents.  If your neighborhood doesn’t have one, volunteer to start one with your local police department.