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Taking Steps to Defeat Smart Criminals

A burglar standing outside a well-lit house

When creating a home security plan with customers, we attempt to think like a criminal. Of course, we cannot always anticipate how a burglar will approach a home, and why. However, specific patterns of behavior have certainly emerged while studying burglary statistics. Some of these patterns go against some common misconceptions. For example, burglars generally try to break into empty homes, which means they often work in daylight. Smart criminals often scope out the most discreet potential entrance to break in. This makes back doors and windows, as well as cellar hatchway doors, very attractive.

On a basic level, anyone can break into any home if there were not afraid of being caught. However, throwing a brick through a front window and climbing through it doesn’t appeal to most thieves. Smart criminals know what approach gives them the best chance of success carrying out their crime. In this post, we share some of the methods that burglars use to avoid detection, as well as what you can do to lessen this danger. Since many burglars take steps to disable or silence their victims’ home security systems, we’ll start with a couple tips to improve your alarm’s security.

A burglar cutting a phone line.

If you have your security system monitored through a home phone line, a burglar can disable your alarm communication very easily.

Monitor Your Security System with a Cellular Dialer

We’ve pointed out in recent posts that alarms make a great deterrent against burglars. We’ve also cited this study, in particular. Fox 5 Atlanta discovered that over half (60%) of criminals in a home leave when an alarm siren sounds. Of course, a siren can bring attention to a crime in action. Additionally, criminals know that your alarm has likely set a police response in action as well. For this reason, many criminals cut the phone lines of the homes they burglarize. If you monitor your security system through your phone line, this will stop your alarm from sending out for help.

Monitoring your security system with a cell dialer eliminates this danger. These dialers communicate over cell towers rather than through a landline. Our post on Smart Security System Design breaks down your alarm monitoring options in detail. We always recommend cell dialer monitoring, as it provides the most consistent means of communication between your alarm and the central station. In addition to working even if a burglar cuts your phone lines, a cell dialer will also continue to communicate if your phones go down due to weather, a traffic accident affecting a telephone pole, or any other reason. The ability to thwart criminals as well as natural disasters make cell dialers our most popular monitoring option.

Take Control of Your Alarm Codes

We’ve discussed this security tip in our Vacation Security To-Do List. Many people use only one alarm code and giving it out to everyone that may need to enter the house. This heightens the chance that the wrong person will get this code and use it to disable your security system during a break-in. Many burglars rob homes of acquaintances. This allows potential thieves to note the home’s layout and try to gather details such as lock types and alarm codes. To combat this, consider adding temporary alarm codes for people who may need to get into your home. Once the code is no longer needed, delete it from the system. Following this tip greatly increases the chance that your alarm will work for you when you most need it.

If you follow our previous tip and install a cell dialer, you can even take this concept one step further. Using an interactive cell dialer, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, makes adding and deleting user codes a snap. You can use an Alarm.com account to modify alarm codes from your smartphone or a computer. Additionally, you can arm and disarm your system with your phone. After all, you may have contractors or sitters visiting your house in your absence. Depending on how well you know these visitors, you may not feel comfortable providing them a code. Simply tell them when to show up and disarm the system for them remotely. From there, your guests can arm the system again upon leaving, or you can do so remotely.

An Alarm.com camera watching over a homes front deck.

Installing cameras to monitor exterior doors, such as this Alarm.com camera keeping an eye on the front door, can help deter theft.

Use Cameras to Monitor Your Home

Cameras add security in multiple ways when installed at a home. For one, cameras will capture and record activity around your home. This greatly increases the chances of catching a criminal. Police officers often have very little to go by after a burglary. Having an image of a thief can provide greatly increases the chance of an arrest. In turn, this could also lead to the return of any items that went missing as part of the crime.

Additionally, cameras can potentially stop a break-in before it occurs. We pointed out in our Yard and Driveway Security Tips that cameras may catch someone scoping out your home. However, their usefulness goes beyond even the video that they capture. Smart criminals will often see cameras and decide to look elsewhere for their next victim. This study conducted last year by major British insurance company Co-Op Insurance sheds some light on this fact. After interviewing 25 former criminals, they found that cameras and barking dogs make the best pre-theft deterrents. Simply installing surveillance equipment makes your home a less likely target.

Install Locks with Pick and Drill Prevention

Not every burglar is content breaking through a window or making a lot of noise entering a house. Especially when most standard household locks provide such little defense against smart criminals. Over the past ten years, several news reports such as this one by ABC have documented how easily criminals can defeat your locks. High security locks such as Medeco locks greatly reduce this threat. Medeco locks offer resistance to burglaries in a couple of different ways. For one, they are both pick-resistant and drill-resistant. Our post on Medeco locks displays and explains the technical methods used to make this happen.

Medeco also utilizes a key-control system for additional security. Even the best locks fail to keep burglars out if the burglar has a key. When we install a Medeco system, we gather a list of individuals authorized to make key copies. When a customer shows up for a key, we ask for an ID. If the individual is not authorized to make a key copy, we will send them home empty-handed. For our Medeco customers, we also keep track of how many key copies we’ve made. This allows you to easily keep track of all your house keys at all times.

A house behind a fence and high shrubbery.

Homeowners value features that add privacy to their yards such as fences and shrubbery. Unfortunately, burglars value these features as much as homeowners.

Make Your Home Less Attractive Upon First Glance

As we mentioned earlier in this post, smart criminals often case out a home before attempting a break-in. We’ve also discussed how cameras can help thwart a crime during this stage. Additionally, consider taking steps to make the outside of your home unattractive to burglars. Having a well-lit exterior can help with this tremendously. Criminals also like to work in privacy. Keeping high bushes in front of your home can give them an opportunity to do so. The same goes for high, wooden fences. Making smart landscaping and home exterior choices can keep burglars from even attempting a break-in. Finally, make sure that your windows remain closed anytime you leave the house. An open window is an invitation to a criminal regardless of what other steps you take to turn them away.

 

Putting Together a Plan to Thwart Even Smart Criminals

We hope this post has informed you on what burglars look for, as well as what deters them. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about these tips, or any other queries on home security. We provide free home site surveys to assess your security needs and make recommendations. You may have specific areas of your home you wish to secure. Or perhaps you want us to help you determine how a burglar would most likely approach your home, and how to stop it. Either way, we will work with you to create a plan to keep your home as safe and secure as possible.