This summer many people can't wait to travel again, having spent months working from home, attending school at home, and eating all meals at home. The idea of a distant locale with a bright, clean hotel room and friendly servers staffing the bars and restaurants has never been so alluring.
Before you pack your bags, though, think of this: Burglars are still in business. Although dramatic decreases in such crimes as robbery, shoplifting, and battery were reported in Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia during lockdown orders, burglaries never slowed. In spring 2020, burglaries in Denver were actually up 50% from the same time the prior year. Residential and business burglaries were combined in that statistic.
As we all pack our bags and get ready to head out, someone else could be plotting to get in. Here are seven tips for burglarproofing your home.
1. Motion-Sensing Outdoor Lights
Thanks to energy-efficient LED bulbs, outdoor lighting has never been easier to install. Inexpensive models run off batteries or solar power, so there's no wiring. Bonus: A prowler suddenly bathed in light will assume he's also on camera. For under $25, you can add a battery-powered light to a dark side of your house.
2. Add Pin Locks to Your Windows and Sliding Doors
Burglars can break the latches on most windows in two seconds flat with a prybar. They'll have a much harder time breaking through a rod of steel. With only a drill and a screwdriver, you can install inexpensive pin locks on sliding glass doors and windows. (Photo via Lowes.)
3. See Your Mail Remotely, and Have a Friend Fetch It
Sign up for Informed Delivery from the U.S. Postal Service to receive photos of letter-sized pieces of mail heading to your home, hours before they arrive. You'll know if anything critical is coming, like bank statements or replacement credit cards, so you can ask a friend to swing by and fetch the mail that same day. Informed Delivery is free. (Photo via USPS News Link.)
4. Keep an Eye on the Interior
Even the most basic Wi-Fi security cameras available today outpace the closed-circuit TV security systems of old. For under $35 you can buy a high-definition miniature indoor camera that will stream via your home's Wi-Fi network so you can keep an eye on the interior of your home by looking at your phone no matter where you are in the world (so long as your phone is on a network). A two-pack goes for $65.
5. Cheap Door and Window Alarms
Ear-piercing noises come cheap, luckily. A two-pack of simple yet effective door or window alarms can be yours for less than $15 (Noopel 2-Pack at Amazon, $14.49). Installation is as easy as sticking them to a window or door. A three-pack of alarms from Sabre is only $20.
6. Thwart Bolt Cutters
The standard padlock is such a well-known shape that it's the universal symbol for security. When you reach a secure website, for instance, you see a padlock in the address bar. But the standard padlock design leaves a lot of the lock's shackle exposed and vulnerable to any burglar with a bolt cutter. Consider replacing the ordinary padlock on a gate or shed with a Master Lock, $14, or similar design, which shields a lot of the shackle.
7. Pet Doors Are Not Just for Pets
We have experience in our immediate family of burglars gaining entrance to a home through the pet door. To look at the dimensions of a typical swinging pet door, you wouldn't think a human could fit, but some burglars stoop to using child accomplices, the police told us. The kid scoots through the pet door and then unlocks the human door.
Two strategies for securing the pet door are to stick one of those inexpensive door/window alarms we mentioned on the pet door, or move a heavy piece of furniture against it. When you return from vacation, you can let your furry friend have use of the door again.
In addition to the basics security measures you already know—lock your windows and doors, ask neighbors to watch the place, keep your valuables in a safe—we know these seven tips will help to burglarproof your home so you can enjoy that long-awaited vacation with more peace of mind.