Home Burglaries: How to Stay Safe for the Holidays

Many homes are inadequately equipped to keep criminals from breaking in, and homeowners are losing as much as $4.6 billion in stolen property.

Recently, investigators in York County, Maine arrested three local residents who broke into more than 20 homes by kicking in the doors. According to police, the criminals—Christopher Michaud, Cole Meserve, and Amber Meserve—stole 20 guns, computers, televisions, dirt bikes, and jewelry over the course of a couple months.

You may be asking yourself, “If a thief can kick in my door, then how can I better protect my home?” While no single security measure guarantees complete protection against a burglary, there are a few things you can do to stay safe this holiday season.

Home Security Tips

  • Install a home security or video monitoring system
  • Secure your doors with a keyless entry lock
  • Make sure sliding glass doors are locked with a security bar
  • Call your local police station and ask for extra patrols in your neighborhood
  • Keep a record of serial numbers for all your expensive electronics
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight
  • Arrange someone to pick up your mail if you’re leaving town for a few days
  • Never leave packages on your front door step
  • Light up your yard with outdoor security lights
  • Install noisy gravel in walkways instead of mulch
  • Trim bushes and shrubs to make it more difficult for thieves to hide
  • Don’t advertise that you’re not home by leaving a note on the door
  • Take boxes of recent purchases to a recycling center instead of leaving them outside by the curb
  • Create the presence that someone is home—e.g. keep a car parked in the driveway, leave indoor lights on, etc.

What to do if your home is burglarized

If you discover a broken window or an open door in your home:

  • Don’t enter—Roughly 2 percent of burglaries result in violence when the resident interrupts a crime in progress
  • Go to a neighbor’s house and call the police
  • Don’t touch anything inside your home until police have collected evidence
  • Write down descriptions of suspicious vehicles and individuals

Other Holiday Safety Precautions

The FBI estimates that 33 percent of burglaries occur from leaving doors or windows unlocked—and some of these crimes happened while the residents were sleeping. Because of this, police are urging homeowners to lock their doors and windows at all times even when they’re home.

Law enforcement officials also suggest changing your daily schedule once in a while.

“We need to adjust our hours, adjust our routine, even if it’s ever so slightly, so we’re not so predictable to a criminal who may be out there watching us,” says Travis Akins, a crime prevention specialist with the Roanoke City Police Department.

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