As the largest entryway to your home, a garage door presents a huge security issue. Keeping it in good repair is not only important to curb appeal and the safety of your family, but also when it comes to the security of your home. And it turns out that break-ins aren’t random. In fact, most thieves do their homework and case your home for days before breaking inside, according to a study done by the University of North Carolina Charlotte. They interviewed 422 convicted burglars about their methods.
“This study broadens our understanding of burglars, their motivations and their techniques,” said lead researcher Joseph Kuhns from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “It also helps us to understand gender differences in offending motivations and techniques. By asking the burglars what motivates and what deters them, we believe this research can help people better understand how to protect themselves against these crimes and help law enforcement more effectively respond.”
Here’s what they learned.
Just Having a Home Security System Scares Off Thieves
More than 60% of the thieves interviewed said the presence of a home security system would cause them to choose a different target. A home security system limits how long they have to rob a home. Its simple math. There’s more risk for lower return.
If an alarm does go off, about half of the thieves will automatically abandon the target. So install an alarm and make sure it’s loud enough to make an impression.
Visibility Scares Thieves
Shrubbery, lawn furniture, and other lawn decor may add decoration to the outside of your home, but it also gives burglars places to hide. The riskiest time to get caught is when entering or leaving the home. Anything that blocks the view of windows or doors will give a thief cover. It’s best to keep a decent line of site between your house and the street as well as the neighbors. You may have less privacy, but so will the thieves when they try breaking into your home.
If the entryways to your home don’t give a thief anywhere to hide, they’ll keep moving down the street.
Thieves Look for Escape Routes
The burglary itself is the easy part. The getaway is actually the toughest part of any burglary plan. That’s why it’s advisable to install high fences that thieves would be forced to jump over (hard to do when their hands are full of electronics and valuables). The best fences are tall with slats spaced far enough apart you can see through. This not only makes it harder to escape, but makes the house more visible.
Nosy Neighbors Might Actually Be a Good Thing
Thieves told the researchers that a home’s proximity to neighbors was one of their biggest deterrents. High traffic, neighbors, and how often people walk by act like a security system. If you are away from home a lot during the day, retired neighbors can be their own neighborhood watch program.
“Most of the burglary arrests we make are because of a neighbor who noticed a car or person that they didn’t recognize, and cared enough to watch them and call 911,” Lt. Dave Johnson of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department told the Charlotte Observer. “When that happens, we can, most often, get there in time to make the apprehension.”
Sure, the neighbors may be nosy, but they’ll also call the cops if there’s a break in. Get to know them. Hint: retired people love homemade oatmeal raisin cookies.
Always Close Your Garage Door
You should always keep your garage door closed — even if you’re doing outdoor chores and just happen to run in the backyard. An open door can be tempting to thieves. It doesn’t take much just to run in and grab something valuable — a bike, lawn equipment, perhaps an expensive fishing pole. Plus, leaving your garage door open gives them a look at the inventory. They may come back later, say when you are at work, and find a way in — by exploiting an overlooked garage door repair for example. The bottom line is always keep your door closed. It’s just a good rule of thumb if you live in a nice suburban neighborhood like Granite Bay,
Roseville, Fair Oaks, Arden Arcade, Carmichael, or Citrus Heights.