Robbery goes up when the economy goes down. The easiest entrance to the house is often through the garage.
I have a personal distaste for alarmist posts. I am writing this because crime has not ceased to exist and there are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from being a victim of break-ins.
Home Break-in Statistics
The good news is that the crime rate in the US is trending lower each year. Property crime, by far the most popular type of crime, is down every year since 2001 and is less than half of what it was in 1991.
According to the FBI most burglaries occur in the daytime (6am-6pm) when folks are likely to be at work and most perpetrators go uncaught due to lack of witnesses and evidence. Of the ones that due get caught most are young and local to the area where they are committing the robberies.
According to alarm companies about 9% of break-ins come through the garage making it the 4th most popular way in, while front doors and ground level windows are pretty much tied for first place with back doors come in third.
Obviously home break-ins are a very local issue with some areas experiencing more than their fair share.
Get Home Security
Not having a home security system makes you 3x more likely to get broken into. Today, there are many options for home security. Be careful when signing a contract for an alarm company. Many have multiyear auto renew contracts that are difficult and expensive to cancel.
Systems like SimpliSafe and others do not involve a long term contracts, They connect to police and emergency services, and let you monitor your home remotely. These are a much better deal.
Get a good deadbolt lock on your doors and reinforce the door jams if you need to.
Get Better Lighting
Thieves don’t like light. Motion sensor lights are a very cost effective way to help secure your property. Make those dark corners unattractive. Timers are also a good and cheap way to make a home seem more active than it is.
Don’t Neglect the Garage
It’s tempting to cut costs when installing or contracting out for home security systems. Just remember that your garage is a potential access point. It might have windows, or a side entrance or a door that leads to the interior of the home. A simple motion sensor or a broken glass noise sensor might make the difference.
Keep Your Doors and Windows in Good Repair
It’s not just an esthetic thing. Gaps in door jams and loose hinges and door jams make your garage that much easier to break into. Besides newer doors and windows are more energy efficient and nicer to look at as well.
Secure the Garage Door
I found this wild video showing just how easy it is to open a locked garage door. After a little practice it only takes seconds. The thieves can then close the door behind them, hide in the garage, wait for the police to come and go and then go about their business. A simple zip tie thwarts the burglars but still allows you to open the garage door via the emergency door pull.
Secure Your Interior Door
If you have an attached garage make sure you keep the adjoining door locked. Also make sure you have a good quality dead bolt lock on a good quality door. Don’t assume that the garage door will keep you safe from burglary. It won’t.
Replace Your Garage Door Opener
Old garage door openers used something called dip switches. They look like tiny little levers. This allowed garage door companies to program garage door openers to an individual door. They also allows burglars to use tools to open your garage door remotely.
Dip switches haven’t been used for a number of years. Newer garage door openers use a different system that changes the code each time it is used. Some people still have older systems that are vulnerable. If you have an older system or bought a house that had a preexisting electric garage door opener, pop open your remote and look for those little switches.
Don’t Keep Your Opener in the Car
If a thief is targeting your home, they might steal your remote to gain access to your garage and then to you home. Key fobs or smart phone apps are a much better choice both for security and convenience.
Use Smart Home and Smart Garage Door Features
Garage door openers have come a long way. Some integrate with other smart home devices and services others have their own systems. Either way connecting things together to make your home smarter just makes sense. A garage door that knows when it is open and can alert you when it is and close itself if you ask is a great advancement in home security. Add an inexpensive camera that you can monitor on your phone and your in business.
Don’t Neglect the Simple Things
All this high tech equipment is fine but there are some lower cost things to remember as well. If you have a workshop in your garage or store your expensive tools in there consider the following.
Keep Your Doors and Windows Closed and Locked When Possible
You’re busy I get it but many crimes are crimes of opportunity. Leaving garage doors open for longer periods of time make for an inviting target. Bicycles or tools can disappear in seconds even if you are home so leaving valuable stuff out and about can be an issue even in “nice neighborhoods”.
Cover Your Windows
Burglars like to see what they can get. Taking a peak through your windows is a great pastime for the would be thief. Curtains or window frosting can make you less of a target. Thieves are much less likely to break into a place where they’re unsure of the reward.
Cabinets and Locks
Cabinets are great for keeping valuables out of site and locking things away. Get a good quality locking cabinet to safely store your expensive power tools. This has the added benefit of keeping the space clean and organized.
Larger items like mowers and blowers can get locked. It’s an added step and inconvenient but a heavy snow blower is easier to wheel out than to carry out. A good quality lock and chain can make it more inconvenient for a burglar to make off with an expensive tool.