June, July and August are traditionally the highest claim months for household burglaries, as warmer temperatures have homeowners out and about or away on vacation, creating attractive opportunities for thieves.
While overall, household theft claims are on the decline (a 42% drop from 2003 to 2010, according to some insurers), homeowners need to be aware so they can be proactive.
What makes a house attractive to a burglar? Opportunity. Burglars make notes of homes that appear vacant, are alarm or dog free, and particularly where the shrubs and gardening environment create areas for undetected entry and quick escapes. Here are some simple tips for helping to keep thieves away:
- Do not announce that you’ll be away. While most people know not to change their voicemail to say that they will be out of town, they may not think of the ramifications of declaring plans on social networking sites. Do not state on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site that you’ll be away from home.
- Never keep a spare key hidden outside. Would-be burglars know all the hiding places – under planters, on door frames, hidden in fake rocks. Leave a key with a neighbour or friend instead.
- If you haven’t already, invest in good quality locks, with at least a one inch dead bolt. Many homeowners have excellent locks on their front doors, but ignore the side doors, which is a more common entry point for burglars. Make sure you have good locks on all doors.
- Trim high plants and bushes, particularly those around windows and doors. Keep your entry ways visible to neighbours.
- Set lights on timers to come on at a staggered time throughout the evening. If a thief is watching your home, he/she may notice that lights come on at exactly the same time each evening, thus realizing you are not at home. Setting the timer to stagger over several days will alleviate that problem.
- Alarm systems (and to an even greater extent, dogs) are huge deterrents for criminals. Consider investing in an alarm system, which will also provide you a discount on your home insurance.
- An unkempt home is a big trigger for thieves. If you are away, make arrangements for someone to collect mail and newspapers. You may also consider hiring someone to cut your grass.
The more steps you take to make a robbery difficult, the less likely it is for you to be burglarized.