Think like a thief: Ways to prevent a burglary

We all want to feel safe at home, but what happens when someone takes that feeling away?

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - We all want to feel safe at home, but what happens when someone takes that feeling away?

Home burglaries can hurt financially and emotionally, but there are steps you can take to make your home less attractive to criminals. 

"It was about two feet off the ground and so they kicked it in and lifted the door up," Donny Irving said as he stared at his damaged garage door.

The Grand Rapids man did not feel the love this last Valentine's Day. 

"I got a call from my roommates and (they) said, 'Someone broke into our house and tore apart everything in our house,'" Irving said. "I was hoping they'd steal a Bible because that's the biggest treasure they can have."

They didn't. 

What they did take, however, went way beyond objects and money -- they took his sense of security.

"I feel kind of violated in a certain respect that this is kind of my property I have and I feel don't want anyone taking what they can't have," Irving said. 

 

People like Barbara Lester try to help those like Donny Irving.

"If people followed the most basic tips they would probably be preventing a burglary easily," she said. 

Lester shared a few tips on things you should keep in mind, when trying to keep thieves out. 

Think like a thief

You know how realtors always talk about curb appeal? How attractive or desirable a home is? Thieves think the same thing. They usually make the decision which house to rob by first cruising through a neighborhood and finding homes that have small details that can make a big difference.

  • Bushes: You should keep the height of your bushes or hedges lower than the window, anything taller can create a hiding place for criminals.
  • Doors should be locked even when you are home.
  • No matter the height windows should be closed and lock, even if they are high off the ground. Thieves will utilize trash bins to get into an open window. 

Where they look

Places thieves usually first look: 

  • Dressers
  • Nightstands
  • Under the mattress
  • Items out in plain sight

Who they rob

Where you live on a street can also play a role.

  • Corner houses are more visible so they have a lower chance of getting robbed than those in the middle of the block.
  • Houses on cul-de-sacs or dead-ends are more prone to break-ins as well  since they usually are wooded and secluded.

Tools you can use

But looks aren't everything -- extra hardware always helps.

Aside from having locks on your doors and windows, there are other items you can use:

  • Pin your windows: drill a hole into the window and slide a pin or screw in.
  • Install a window stop, adjust the stop whenever you want to close or open the window. These can be found at your hardware store. 
  • Dead bolt your doors, turn-style knobs can be easily opened.

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