A big part of being a homeowner—like being a parent—is worrying. Dealing with the fears about the fires you can or can’t put out, the mishaps, accidents, and breakdowns that you budget for and push into the back of your mind.
Burglaries are one of those things that can keep you up at night, especially if you live alone or have valuables that you aren’t sure you could replace if need be. The good news is, with a home security system, you can take matters into your own hands, and provide yourself a level of security that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
First things first though, let’s take a step into the mind of a burglar.
What are Burglars Looking For?
While burglaries do entail a certain amount of planning—getaway, transportation, etc.,—they are largely opportunistic crimes. Burglars will case a neighborhood and look for the easy get, the path of least resistance.
A brazen, professional burglar with skills and experience should be able to burglarize you no matter what system you have set up, or they may even enter the house when you’re at home and rob you at gunpoint before you can trigger the system. But when it comes to dealing with most burglars, home security is about making yourself a harder target. The thought process being, if it’s that much harder to burglarize you, they’ll move on to somebody else.
Burglars are looking for the easy in, and the quick out. They’re looking for window units or trees that can take them right up to a window that—chances are—could be unlocked in the daytime, when you’re at work and most of the neighborhood is deserted. They’re looking for hedges alongside the windows that they can use to hide from passersby while they work their way in, and front or back doors that look weak or easy to force through. And it should probably go without saying, but an open garage door might as well be an “open for business” sign.
What Do Burglars Think of Home Security Systems?
Burglar systems can be a real deterrent to criminals, according to a survey of 86 convicted burglars serving time in prison. The survey carried out by KGW8, NBC's affiliate in Portland, Oregon, found that most burglars would leave immediately if a security alarm went off while they were breaking into a home
"I would try to turn it off or get the hell out of there," the outlet quoted one burglar as saying
In addition, visible cameras were also listed as a deterrent by the burglars, however, there better not be any indication that they’re fake. While a camera is a deterrent, some burglars said that it could attract them, because it likely means the house holds a lot of valuables.
You can sign up for a system with cameras that can be accessed remotely, so that you can see what’s happening at your house at any time, and call for help if needed. In addition, motion-sensing cameras that trigger a light can be a great deterrent to a night burglar, especially in that instant when they’re suddenly bathed in light and on candid camera.
You’ll want to get a system that has “smash and crash” prevention. This refers to the method some burglars use in which they don’t try to override the security system, rather, they bust through a door or window and smash the alarm panel during the short grace period that it allows the homeowner to disarm the system before calling the authorities.
A wireless system is also a better idea, in that a burglar can’t disable it by cutting the phone lines. On the other hand, they may have tools to jam your system’s signal, so see if your security provider has contingencies to deal with this.
Your system should also come with dedicated monitoring, and operators who can respond to disturbances and suspected break-ins, even if you’re far from home and not answering your phone.
Another good feature is the stickers and yard signs that advertise that the house is protected by a security system. Again, this isn’t a foolproof measure, but if the burglar sees your house has the yard sign, and the one next to it doesn’t, that could send the message that one of these houses will simply be less work.
Other Steps You Can Take
Beyond a home security system, there are other steps you can take to make yourself a harder target. First off, make sure you have reinforced doors and that you keep your windows locked when you aren’t home (and also at night when you are home).
You should also make sure that your most valuable belongings are kept in a safe deposit box or stashed somewhere in the house where they can’t be seen or found easily. Your typical burglar is looking to get in and out within a couple of minutes, so making your most valuable belongings harder to find is a smart move in the event they manage to bypass your security.
Perhaps the best non-home security system method is simple, and as old as time—a dog. A guard dog that makes noise—and can back up the bark with some bite—can be extremely effective in stopping burglars. While some of them may carry doggy treats with them when hitting houses, the bottom line is, having a guard dog makes you that less appealing a target, especially if the next house over only has a cat or a goldfish.
Finally, consider taking a few minutes to try and put yourself in the mind of a burglar. Stand in your front lawn and walk around your house and think about where and how you’d get in if you were a burglar. Look for weaknesses and points of entry, and chances are that you’ll find them.
Even if you’ve taken steps to make your house less appealing to thieves, a home security system is a solid way to make your home and your family safer, and give yourself a little peace of mind. They can pick up the slack when you leave the house in a hurry and forget to lock the doors, or if you’re out of town and don’t have anyone watching your house until you get back. They’re also a great way to deter burglars, especially if you aren’t a dog person.
If you’re looking for a way to make your homestead more secure, take a look at some of the top home security systems on the market, and you’ll be ready to make the right decision for your security.