Knock, Knock… Anyone Home?: 5 Key Entry Points for Burglars
There’s no way around it; where people are, crime is. Burglary will not go away. By definition, burglary is theft, or larceny (aka, ‘stealing from someone with no intent to give it back’) but with the addition of an unlawful entry into your home.
Burglary won’t be removed from America’s neighborhoods entirely, but as a homeowner or renter you can make it difficult for anyone who intends to break into your home. Force a burglar to spend more time or to make noise trying to enter the premises, and you will most likely have won the battle to protect your home and the property within it.
Burglary is, by the way, considered a ‘violent crime’— along with murder, rape and aggravated assault. This is serious business, folks.
Many things can cause a home to be targeted by a would-be burglar. Most of us are aware of how things like overflowing mailboxes, un-shoveled sidewalks or un-kept lawns act as billboards of our absence. But have you considered how easy it is for a burglar to follow the FedEx truck from a distance in order to discover which homes will be his or her next mark? Or how forgetting to close your curtains and blinds allows burglars to glimpse the catalogue of possessions available for the taking?
It’s so important to be aware of how burglars get in, so that you can create very real obstacles at those points. The main home entry points for burglars are simply a home’s doors (front/back or side/sliding), windows and sometimes by the roof. Key points that you should know about each of these entry points include:
- Doors (front/back or side): 33% of break-ins are through the front door. Make sure your external doors are either solid wood or metal, and are installed by someone who knows what they are doing.
Mount the hinges with 3” screws (not the ½” standard hinge screws). Similarly, the lock strike plate needs to be attached to the doorframe with screws that are at least 3” so that the mass of the doorframe can help to anchor the deadbolt and reinforce the strike plate. A double deadbolt (keyed on both sides of the door) is essential if there is glass within 40” of the deadbolt; otherwise it is too easy to break the glass, reach in, and let one’s self in with the thumb turn. A hybridized ‘lockable thumb turn’ is maybe the best way to go, as it can ensure a high level of security when the thumb turn lock is engaged without needing a key to lock it from the inside.
- Sliding glass doors: An experienced burglar can easily shimmy a sliding door into enough of a diagonal position so as to reach inside and gain entry. At the very least, you can reinforce the primary lock on your glass doors with a broomstick or piece of wood set in the bottom sliding door tracks, so that the door cannot be opened. However, a Charley Bar is the best security for sliding doors. It is a metal bar, mounted hallway up the window, providing a preventive crossbeam of sorts. It can be rotated vertically when not in use, so as not to impede the view through the glass. Burglars know that a Charley Bar is effective and will not be worth their time.
- Windows: There is a valid reason why July and August have the highest burglary rates, and February has the lowest; an open window is an open invitation. Frame pins can be used to regulate how wide a window can be opened— even for those second story windows. Burglars can easily scale tree limbs or fences or garbage bins in order to hop through an open second floor window. It’s a great idea to keep your shrubs trimmed to below window height, so that you can see an intruder crouching outside of your home.
- Roof: Though not nearly as common as door and window break-ins, experienced and very determined burglars may use the roof as an entry point to your home by such actions as removing roof tiles, entering vents or dismantling masonry and chimneys in order to access the attic.
Criminals Tell All
Be sure that you have adequate security features to cause a burglar to have to improvise, be sloppy and, hopefully, leave your home alone. Numerous burglars and ex-burglars can be found in online videos, willing to share their expertise on how they go about their business.
Repeatedly, burglars commonly refer to three home security must-haves: (a) an effective, professionally installed alarm system, (b) a dog, and (c) concerned and watchful neighbors.
I must admit, that last one surprised me; that one of the simplest ways to reduce these violent crimes against 2 million American homes, which cost victims $3 billion each year, is to just know your neighbors. A concerned community does not need a professional to install it, nor does it cost anything. Yet, as one burglar says, when someone in a neighborhood chats with him as he’s discreetly trying to scope out a home to target, he will leave and not come back.
It’s Up to You to Act
In addition to the three security ‘features’ above, homeowners can also make sure that they use lighting to their advantage. Don’t forget to install a spotlight at the back and sides of your house, not just at the front. Be sure to place lights high enough so that a potential burglar can’t reach and unscrew the bulbs. Motion sensors are excellent additions to exterior lights.
For most home invaders, burglary is either a game of curiosity and adrenaline, or it is a desperate act to pay off a loan or support a drug habit. Burglars are not looking for confrontation; burglars are opportunists. I will say that again — burglars are opportunists. Remove the opportunity for easy entry into your home, and most burglars won’t waste their time there. Burglars are not thinking about the impact they will have on your well-being or that of your loved ones — that is up to you. Act first, before a burglar can.