What Not to Do: How to Be an Easy Target for Home Burglary During the Holidays

burglarIs it a crime these days to use your best judgment, be informed and keep your home as safe as possible while you are traveling over the holidays? In 2008, there were more than 2 million burglaries in the United States, according to the FBI. Don’t want to be a statistic? If you’re oddly more than fine with getting pilfered, read on.

Hide In The Dark

Make it easy for burglars to hide by keeping the outside of your house as dark as possible. Don’t install flood lights, motion sensors or decorative lighting to make them insecure or help neighbors keep an eye on your home. Also: forget about trimming overgrown hedges. Burglars love having dense shrubbery to blend in with while they are peeping in your windows and you want to help them out.

Don’t Use Your Fancy Alarm System

What’s the point of using one of those anyway? They are annoying. Even if you have an alarm system, don’t set it! This is especially helpful for burglars who peer in through windows to see it is disarmed. Say you live in New Mexico, for example. You are probably thinking home security isn’t a big deal, right? Don’t bother to check the statistics (5,465 burglaries reported in 2010) – just occasionally remember to lock the front door and you’ll be fine!

Be Obvious

While out of town this holiday, make sure to make it obvious you are gone. Don’t bother contacting the post office or paper boy to put a hold on your mail. Instead, let newspaper piled on your door step and fliers jammed in the door signal that you haven’t been home in days. Snowbanks or unkempt landscaping? Not your problem. This just tells burglars you’ve been gone for awhile and probably will be for a few more days.

Another tip: Leave cardboard boxes of expensive appliances, gaming systems, new TVs and other fun stuff piled out on the sidewalk. This lets burglars know all about your fun, new gadgets that are sitting unprotected in your vacant home.

Forget to Lock Up

That includes windows in the kitchen and on the second floor, garage doors and back porch entrances. Burglars probably won’t think to just try the door, right? If they knock and you don’t answer, they might just walk away. Convicted burglars told Michelle Crouch from the Reader’s Digest that they always knock before they walk right through the front door. But maybe they’ll forget to try your house on the days you forget to lock up.

Broadcast Your Departure Dates

Make a Facebook announcement that you are headed out for the week and can’t wait to enjoy your family and friends in Iowa. Update on Twitter occasionally letting burglars know how many days until you’ll be home. As long as you let all of your online friends (and strangers) know, you are safe. Just don’t bother telling your trusted neighbors you will be gone because there’s no need for them to watch your house for suspicious behavior.

Keep Valuables In The Open

If you can remember, stash cash in your sock drawer and jewelry in the bedside table. Keep guns in a visible case and other valuables out in the open so burglars can see them right through your window that’s missing curtains because you forgot to close them before leaving. Nothing says “I’m Yours” like an empty house with shiny gadgets on display.
Mary Reed Mary researches and writes about developments in web design, hosting and development. She is a freelance web designer and content provider and loves her home with a view of the San Francisco Bay.







8 thoughts on “What Not to Do: How to Be an Easy Target for Home Burglary During the Holidays

  1. What a funny post, and so informative at the same time! This was very fun to read, and I picked out a couple of things I am (sadly) guilty of. Thanks for the great tips 😉

  2. Great tips. We have been the victim of home burglaries twice in the last 3-1/2 years. I’ve learned a lot since the first burglary but I’m continually frustrated at how people don’t take this subject seriously. If they haven’t been robbed, they assume it won’t happen to them. But it can happen to anyone!

    Some people think having a dog will prevent a break in. I have a very large black lab and she was there both times.

    Some people think certain neighborhoods are exempt. Not so. It can happen anywhere.

    Some people think that if the neighbors are watching it won’t happen. Also not so. Robbers are smart and fast. At our last house, my husband was standing in the front room painting the window trim when our neighbors house was broken into. He saw nothing!

    We didn’t have an alarm the first time but we did the second time. Unfortunately, they couldn’t crow bar the door open which would have set off the alarm, so they broke the glass (full glass door). The alarm didn’t go off. At some point they opened the door and the alarm went off. So they weren’t able to get much before they had to leave. The best thing I did was hide my valuables. I never leave my lap top or camera out when I leave. I know that they still might find them but I’m going to make them work for it. We also hide our gun. The bedside table might be the most convenient location but it’s also the first place they check. Oh, and jewelry. I don’t have any anymore. They took it all the first time and the second time they took the few pieces I had collected since the previous one. You shouldn’t ever leave a jewelry box sitting out. They grab it and run.

    It’s unfortunate, but you have to live differently. Like hiding jewelry. And laptops. And always turning on the alarm. I think the reason robbers break-in even though there’s an alarm sign is because people don’t turn their alarms on. Why have it if you don’t use it!

    After our second break-in, with the alarm, we added an outside siren (recommended by the police) and glass break sensors. Hopefully that will help in the future.

  3. Those are some great tips Patty. I can’t imagine going through that twice. Fortunately my house has never been broken into although a few years back, someone broke into my garage and took my daughter’s brand new racing bike that she won from a bank contest. She was heart broken and I remember feeling very violated and furious.
    I have 4 dogs and always assumed that would deter them but maybe not.

  4. The police officer told me that some dogs are a deterrent but most are not. Lots of times the robbers know you or have befriended the dog. I don’t think that was the case for us but I don’t know for sure. At any rate, labs are not one if the dogs robbers fear.

    You would think 4 dogs would make a difference, though. But I think today’s robbers are very bold. We were only gone from our house for a brief time when they came in. We were just glad no one was home.

    The police officer also told us to always go to the door when someone knocks & let them know you’re home. They knock to see & if you don’t answer they think the coast is clear. I also know this from personal experience, too. It happened to us. It was extremely obvious the guy was scoping out the house. I called the cops with the license number.

  5. Yikes! I can’t tell you how many times I don’t answer the door. We get so many solicitors in this neighborhood that I always look out the window if someone knocks and if I don’t know them, I don’t answer. Guess I better start answering.

  6. Cathy, I feel kind of like I’ve hi-jacked your comments but this is a subject I deal with daily. Our house is in the city but with a country setting. There are lots of trees, large lots (ours is an acre) and we can only see each other’s houses int he winter when the trees are bare. Having been broken into twice, I’m doing everything I can to prevent another break-in. But our location is not ideal for that. No one can see if someone breaks in! And our driveway goes to the front of our house which makes it easy. Several of our neighbors have driveways that wrap around to the side or they’re on the corner or their front door is hard to get to. Ours is right there for the world to see. And there isn’t another house on one side, in front or behind.

    Anyway, as far as answering the door. I learned a lot from the police officer who met with our neighborhood a couple of years ago. He said you always need to let people know you’re home. You don’t have to actually open the door – in fact, you might not want to – but they need to know you’re home. We had someone come to our door one day & instead of knocking or ringing the doorbell, he hit the door with the flat of his hand. I don’t think he thought anyone was home (we park in the garage so there are never any cars in the driveway). I went to the door & spoke to him through the window next to the door. I didn’t open the door. He asked for “Tim”. I said “no”. He left. He was definitely scoping out the place. I got his license number & called the police & gave a description. If I hadn’t answered, I’m sure he would have broken in.

    Whenever I go to the door, I have spray gel mace in my hand and I’m always prepared to write down license numbers & descriptions. I never open the door – I always talk to people through the window. It’s awkward but you do what you have to do.

    These extreme measures may not be necessary for you since you’re in a neighborhood but I’m not so I have to play by different rules. Most of the time people knocking on my door are wanting to cause trouble. Otherwise no one comes by. We’re off the beaten path and there’s no reason to.

    But the cop said regardless of where you live you should always let them know you’re home. But don’t open the door! Find another way to let them know you’re home.

    Sorry so many comments but this is a topic I’m passionate about and I want people to be informed & safe. And I want to send a message to the criminals in my area that they don’t want to mess with me or my neighbors. We watch & we call the police!!!

    Oh, that’s another thing. If you see something suspicious, the police officer said to get as much information as you can & call it in. Even if you’re not sure, let them decide. So I always do that.

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