Burglar-proof your home: 7 safety tips for seniors

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 31 October 2018 06:17

Property crime in the United States has dropped precipitously in the past 20 years, despite public perception that violent and property crimes are going up, according to a study by Pew. Average people hear on the news that Chicago has a high murder rate but they overlook the fact that violent crimes and property crime rates are far higher in places like Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, and Tennessee.


Fewer than 50 percent of property crimes are reported to police, and these crimes are rarely solved and prosecuted. Most burglaries take place at midday when people are at work or out shopping. Burglars who assume this frequently enter a home and find someone home, such as a child who didn’t go to school or an elder who is retired – obviously a dangerous situation for all involved, even if the burglar didn’t intend to hurt anyone. That makes prevention much more important.


Specially for seniors

One of the areas where burglary-like crime is growing is theft of prescription drugs, particularly from the homes and apartments of seniors. Anyone who has access, from health aides to grandchildren, are potential suspects, and nobody should be immune from scrutiny. At the same time, it’s impossible to keep all of these people out of your home, so lock up prescriptions. Get a cabinet with a secure lock and don’t tell anyone where the key is hidden.


Understand the crime

In general it’s helpful to understand what motivates a burglar and what will deter them. A study by UNC Charlotte shows that more than 50 percent of burglars surveyed wanted money for drugs, so they were looking for things like cash or jewelry that could be quickly liquidated. The burglars said that the presence of an alarm system as well as a busy neighborhood would make a home less inviting to break into. Nearly half of respondents to the survey said that burglaries are often “spur of the moment” crimes rather than planned events, which means that any deterrent strategies are helpful.


Police in many cities and towns can help individuals with tips to prevent property crimes, and many will visit your home to discuss them specifically. Police will also visit local Senior Centers to make presentations on senior safety which will include anti-theft tips, such as:


1. Securely lock your home.

It’s not safe for anyone to leave their homes unlocked, even if that’s what they’ve traditionally done for years. Invest in a strong door and have it professionally installed with at least a 2 inch deadbolt lock. Double-up security on sliding doors by adding screws to the upper track so it can’t be lifted off and by using a bar to reinforce the handle lock. Install lift locks on windows so they cannot be forced open, even if accidentally left unlocked. Also consider how secure the basement, garage, or shed, as a motivated burglar could use tools or ladders left in those spaces to pry or drill out locks on the house to get in.


2. Clear the view.

Burglars will only spend a minute or two trying to get into your home, and another 10 minutes inside. If you cut back the landscaping so that your home is easily visible from the street, you will deter them from spending much time at your front door (which is the entry point in more than 30 percent of crimes).


3. Make it look occupied.

Burglars don’t want to run into anyone when they break into a house, so make them look elsewhere by leaving a car in the driveway and having a neighbor pick up newspapers and mail when you’re away. Put a radio or television on a timer to make people assume someone is home.


4. Exterior lights.

Solar-powered security lights are easy to install and will deter anyone from lurking in the shadows around your door after dark. Police suggest putting them up high enough so they are triggered by motion but cannot be tampered with (bulbs removed).


5. Alarm systems.

More than 30 percent of burglars in the UNC Charlotte study said they would abandon a break-in if an alarm were present. The expensive part of alarm system is the monitoring, which means that a central office is called when the alarm sounds. If a monitored system is not possible, any sort of motion activated alarm (often available as battery operated) that makes noise when a person walks into the house is helpful. A barking dog is also considered a deterrent to some burglars.


6. Change habits.

Do you invite people into your home who are there to sell a product or offer handyman services? Do you sleep with your windows open? Do you leave your car unlocked, or hide a key in an obvious place so your neighbor can get into your house? All of these things are common habits of seniors who can improve their personal safety and deter burglars by changing their behavior.


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Ben Hartwig

Ben is a Digital Overlord and Chief Security Officer at InfoTracer who takes a wide view from whole system. He authors guides on entire security posture, both physical and cyber. Enjoys sharing the best practices and does it the right way!


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