What Your Home Says to Criminals

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- In 2013, the Lincoln Police Department received more than 1,100 reports of residential burglaries across the city.

A thief will try just about anything to get into a home, but it’s often the tried and true methods that can put someone’s property into the hands of a criminal.

In fact, according to police, more than 300 burglaries in 2013 happened because of unsecured doors and windows. That means homeowners likely left their doors and windows unlocked and/or open. This makes it extremely easy for burglars to gain entry within seconds and take whatever they can.

LPD also sees a significant amount of larcenies take place due to open or partially opened garage doors left unattended, and these open doors often act as a green light for thieves.

Ofc. Shane Winterbauer, from LPD, said folks often leave their garage doors cracked open a bit (especially in the summer) or will leave the garage open while working in the backyard, or some other portion of the house.

“Once [burglars] are inside the garage,” Winterbauer said, “they’re not going to be seen by the public. There’s limited chances of witnesses.”

In these cases, it only takes a couple of seconds for a burglar to gain entry.

So, what can you do to better protect yourself outside of remembering to keep everything locked and shut tight? Police offered up several other tips to better protect your home. Plus, there are a few things you may not have thought about that act like a welcoming mat for criminals.

1) Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed, about three feet tall – it’s easy for a human being to hide inside unmaintained or tall shrubs, allowing them to either wait or gain entry to a home relatively undetected.

2) Better protect sliding doors and windows – get an old broomstick or perhaps some plastic tubing from the hardware store and place it in your door and window tracks. If a burglar is able to break the lock, it’ll be very difficult to slide the door open if something like an old broomstick is blocking the way.

3) Lighting – it can be one of the most crucial and overlooked parts of the exterior. A well lit home that uses flood and motion detecting lights may help deter a criminal from sneaking up to a house. And, it could startle them enough to where they run away. Shop online or at a hardware store to find what you need. Winterbauer suggested one on each corner of the home.

4) Keep gates and outdoor sheds locked – items inside a shed ( tools, shovels, etc.) can be used break windows, doors and locks.

5) Keep your window blinds closed, especially if you’re not home – Winterbauer said we don’t want to advertise our property to people. Furthermore, he recommended trying to find a place for your television other than in front of a window. Try to tuck it in a corner out of sight so it’s not in plain view.

6) Look at your own home and decide what it says to you – for example, do you leave your trash bins on the side the side of the house? They can be used to boost up to a second floor window and get inside a home, perhaps at a window you think is too far off the ground for a person of average height to enter.