You Can Help Prevent Break-ins: Stop Doing These 13 Things

Some of your everyday habits might actually be encouraging burglars. Learn what you can do to ensure your safety and prevent a break-in!

Published August 25, 2023

Burglaries happen every day. In fact, according to the FBI, in 2019, there were over 1.1 million burglaries in the United States. While technically anyone can be a victim, some folks are more susceptible than others.

If you want to know how to prevent break-ins, we have unlocked the best techniques for keeping your home and family safe!

Stop Leaving Your Doors Unlocked

This seems like common knowledge, right? Well, it turns out that reminding people to lock their doors is advice needs to be shared. In the northwest United States, 46% of the population doesn't lock their door.

Similarly, in the far northeast, 42% of people don't lock up their homes. The rest of the U.S. averages between 19% and 30% who nix this simple safety feature. This gives thieves direct access to your home. 

More interesting statistics: 

  • Parents with multiple kids are less likely to use the lock.
  • People with large dogs are less likely to latch their doors.
  • Folks who know their neighbors trust that their home will be safe without being locked (compared with those who don't know who is living next door).

Don't Take Pictures of Your Keys

New homeowners are notorious for taking cute shots of themselves holding their brand new set of keys. This gives burglars direct access to your home.

How you may ask? There is an app for that — copying your keys, that is. Yes, that's right. There is technology that allows locksmiths and criminals to duplicate your key off of a simple photograph.

Ditch Your Bumper Stickers

There are thieves of opportunity and then there are thieves who take the time to plot their break-ins. For those who love to adorn their vehicles with bumper stickers, police note that you may be tipping these robbers off to when you're not home. 

Got an honor student at Mathews Elementary? That sticker just told them to sneak in during drop off and pick-up times for your school. Is your son a soccer star with the Red Daredevils youth team? You just told them when you will be away for practices and games. Are you a proud Marine wife? You have now informed them that your spouse is away a lot. 

Custom license plates also make you easier to remember and labeling your expensive hobbies immediately advertises that you have pricey items in your home and garage. Remember that Google gives out a lot of information, and if robbers have a clue where to look, you make yourself a bigger target. 

Don't Leave a Portable GPS in Plain Sight in the Car

Speaking of vehicles, if you leave your portable GPS in view when you are away from your car, you are setting yourself up for two potential break-ins. First, a crook is more likely to break into your car and steal the device. Second, that handy device has your home address on it.

Since you are clearly away from home right now, they are more likely to target your house next. Keeping your GPS out of sight is an easy way to prevent both types of break-ins.

Stop Posting Travel Plans and Updates

This is a little startling to hear, but the Department of Justice has found that in 65% of home invasions, the victim knew the person/people that burglarized their home AND over 30% of these individuals were intimate partners or relatives. We all hope that our family members, friends, and acquaintances would never do something so heinous, but you never know.

Thus, wait to post about your vacation to the beach or the woods until after you have returned. Otherwise, an unsuspecting burglar might take advantage of your vacant home.

Helpful Hack

Another way to stay safe on social media is to upgrade your privacy setting. Instead of letting the public or friends of friends have access to your posts and photos, limit viewing to just your friends. 

Stop Ignoring Blinds and Window Treatments

If a burglar can peek into your home and clearly see that no one is there, you are likely going to be targeted over the neighbor who shields their windows and glass doors. Window treatments are another simple way to keep people from quickly figuring out that you are away. 

Quick Tip

If you are leaving on vacation and you normally leave your blinds closed during the day, then keep them closed. However, if you are someone who opens blinds and drapes during the daytime hours, then consider creating the illusion that you are still home by leaving your blinds slightly cracked on a downward slant. Remember, consistency is key!

Avoid Keeping Spare Keys in Obvious Places

Storing your spare key under the mat, in the fake rock, or on top of the door jamb is just as bad as leaving the door unlocked. If you are prone to getting locked out, consider finding a more inconspicuous spot to store your entry ticket. ADT recommends places like in the dog house, in your kid's outdoor playset, or under your barbecue grill. 

Helpful Hack

If you trust your neighbors, consider asking them if it is alright to hide your key on a part of their property. This gives you quick access when you need it, but gives the illusion that it is not your key.

Stop Leaving the Doggy Door Unlocked

No matter if your dog is big or small, a doggy door makes your home vulnerable. Burglars can easily reach through small doors to unlock your entryway and they can squeeze through large doors. Since this is a very convenient feature that most dog owners enjoy having, it's important to purchase doggy doors that can be locked. 

This not only keeps your house safe while you are away, but it is also how to prevent break-ins at night. Puppy parents can aim to potty their dogs one last time in the late evening and then lock the doggy door and limit water until morning to make sure that Fido is taken care of and their house is secure.

Don't Let Your Alarm Keypad Be Seen

When you invest in a security system for your home, they will install a keypad near the door to allow you to arm and disarm the system when you come and go. However, for those with a lot of windows near their entrances or glass doors, you want to ensure that you cannot see the keypad from the outside of your home. Why?

Burglars can easily gauge when it is a good time to break in. After all, green means go, and many alarms have a light on them that indicates when the system is on or off. 

Need to Know

Watch your mirror placement as well. If you can see the reflection of the alarm pad, it is time to reconsider that hanging spot.

Stop Solicitors if You Can

Solicitors are already a nuisance, but they can also make your home more vulnerable to thieves. You see, while you are out of town, they are dropping flyers on your doorstep, or worse, attaching them to your door. When they pile up or just sit in the same spot for a few days, it's a quick clue that you are away. 

Investing in signs for your yard that say "No Solicitation" is another simple tool to prevent break-ins.

Don't Let Packages Sit in Sight

Amazon is addicting, but when you receive packages and don't immediately bring them inside, you signal to thieves that you aren't home. Additionally, this is an easy way to become a victim of porch pirates!

How do you prevent break-ins and piracy when you are at work or out shopping and your packages arrive? Easy! Add porch decor that gives delivery drivers a place to stash your goods! 

Avoid Letting Mail and Newspapers Pile Up

Another quick way to prevent burglary while you are away on vacation is to schedule for mail to be held at the post office and to stop newspaper services while you are gone. When these things pile up, it's another clue that your house is ripe for the picking. 

Don't Let Your Lights Be an Invitation to Burglars

Long gone are the days where you leave your lights on days at a time when you leave on vacation. Now, there are smart devices to help you out!

Smart plugs allow homeowners and renters to access their outlets from afar and even set up schedules for lights and televisions to turn on and off at typical times. This creates an illusion that there is someone in the home, and that can help keep burglars at bay.

Need to Know

These can also be helpful devices for people who work long hours and are concerned about break-ins. You can schedule your light to turn on after dark to make it seem that you are already home.

Keep Up Appearances and Prevent Burglary

The biggest thing to remember about how to prevent break-ins is that thieves are always going to go for the easiest target. Thus, when you are away, create the illusion that someone is home.

Also, talk to trustworthy neighbors about keeping an eye on your house and letting you know when suspicious activity is happening. Finally, make sure your valuables are out of sight and consider an alarm system to add an extra layer of protection.

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You Can Help Prevent Break-ins: Stop Doing These 13 Things