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How to Outsmart a Home Burglar

Here are the vulnerabilities burgulars look for when they're deciding whether to invade your home.

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door/window lockCatherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Lock Your Doors and Windows

Don’t overthink the obvious answers. A simple step like keeping your house locked might deter a burglar from breaking into your home. Plus: Check out these genius ways to fake that you have a home security system to deter burglars.

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The only thing a burglar hates more than being seen is being caught on camera.zorpink/Shutterstock

Make Your Security Camera Visible

Not only is a security camera a smart investment, but also make sure potential thieves know you have one on your home. Of 57 convicted burglars surveyed by NBC 4 New York, 37 percent said they would avoid breaking into a house with a visible security camera positioned near a door.

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High angle view of friends using social media in mobile phone on streetMaskot/Getty Images

Be Smart on Social Media

Over time, more and more burglars use social media to target potential victims. Don’t make it easier for them by announcing when your vacation begins or posting during your trip. Even if you’ve set your social media settings to “private,” the information you post can still get passed around to someone outside your social circle. Check out the 13 sneaky signs a burglar is watching your home.

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DrivewayP A Thompson/Getty Images

Keep a Car Parked in Your Driveway

A burglar prefers to move in with the homeowner away. An investigative team at Portland, Ore. television station KGW conducted an anonymous survey of 86 inmates incarcerated for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections, and almost all of the burglars surveyed said they’d think twice if they saw a car in the driveway. So if you do leave for vacation, either leave one of your cars parked out front or ask a neighbor to leave their car in your driveway while you’re gone.

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Reinforced doors become harder to kick in.Grigvovan/Shutterstock

Install a Deadbolt

Kicking in a door is actually not difficult. However, you can make your door much more challenging by swapping out the faceplate on your door for one that uses three-inch stainless-steel screws — just one of our tips for reinforcing your door.

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door knockerDavid Papazian/Shutterstock

Don’t Ignore a Knock on the Door

Every burglar surveyed by KGW reports knocking on the front door before breaking into a home. If someone answers, the burglar makes up an excuse and moves on. You don’t have to open the door for the person, but definitely let the person know you’re home — you just might thwart a burglary.

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TvMelissa Ross/Getty Images

Put the Television On When You Leave

Most burglars won’t break into a home if they could hear a radio or see that the television is on. If you’re concerned about wasting electricity, consider setting a timer to turn on the radio or television during prime burgling time — find out what time of day burglars are most likely to break in.

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Prune bushJim Bastardo/Getty Images

Trim Back Landscaping

Burglars value their privacy while they’re breaking and entering. Theoretically, if every house on a particular block seemed empty, a burglar would still choose to target the house that offers the most privacy. To deter would-be burglars, keep the shrubs around your house well-trimmed.

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Good lighting discourages robbers.Nathadech Suntarak/Shutterstock

Turn Outside Lights On

Above all, burglars don’t want to be seen; they’ll be deterred by a well-lit property. Even when relatively certain that you’re at work or on vacation, a burglar would rather target a home that can be approached in the dark to avoid calling any attention to themselves. Here’s how to spot (and fix) 35 other things that make your home a target for burglars.

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morning run routineEmilija Manevska/Getty Images

Rethink Your Regular Routine

Burglaries happen much more quickly than you might think. Cleveland Police Captain Keith Sulzer tells that he often hears burglary victims say, “I was just gone for ten minutes.” If you keep to a regular routine and a burglar is watching your home, you can bet he or she will know when you leave and for how long — even if you’re just walking the dog.

If it’s not possible to change up your routine, be sure to make it look like someone is home when you leave, turning on the TV or radio — even if you plan to return in a jiffy.

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A properly installed alarm may deter some thieves.Sami_lelya/Shutterstock

Get an Alarm System

Not surprisingly, the sound of a home alarm system going off quickly deters most burglars. However, some burglars said they follow a fast and efficient routine that allows them to get in and out in less than five minutes, giving them time to get away before police can respond.

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Burglars say small dogs do not slow them down.Iuliubo/Shutterstock

Don’t Assume Your Dog Will Deter a Burglar

It’s worth noting that 70 percent of burglars surveyed by Fox 5 News in Atlanta said a dog wouldn’t deter them from targeting a home. And one of the burglars who spoke to NBC 4 New York said even a barking dog wouldn’t stand in his way. “Dollar Store Beggin’ Strips do wonders,” he said.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.