Home Guru

Steps to Take to Feel Safe in Your Own Home

Opinion Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

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By Bill Primavera

I still get chills when I think of that early morning when, still in bed, my wife told me that she had had a dream where a man was standing at the foot of our bed, looking at us.

Weird, I thought, as I got up to shower while she went downstairs to the kitchen to make me breakfast before my long commute to work from Brooklyn Heights to New Haven, where I had just gotten a new job.

Suddenly, through the din of the rushing water of the shower, I heard my wife scream. 

“Bill, we’ve been robbed!” 

(In her excitement, she mistakenly referred to the act of burglary as robbery, but when one is in a state of panic, who’s to quibble correct use of terms?)

I got downstairs as fast as I could to find that the back door to our two-story apartment had been literally lifted off its hinges, making us one with the great outdoors. Sobering as that moment was, I quickly assessed all rooms to see if anything had been stolen. I found that only one item had disappeared: my two-year-old’s piggy bank. How desperate can a burglar be, I thought.

My research today reveals that this breach in our security and concern about safety is hardly uncommon. The cold facts are that a burglary takes place every 18 seconds in the United States. That adds up to nearly 200 per hour and about 4,800 every day.

  • Someone is home during almost 30 percent of burglaries.
  • Burglaries happen most often during the day, not the dark of night.
  • In fact, most burglars work between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • The highest percentage of home break-ins happen during the summer months, especially July and August.
  • A whopping 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door.
  • Homes without security systems are four times as likely to be broken into.
  • Renters are just as likely to be robbed as homeowners.
  • On average, property loss from a burglary is more than $2,500.

Further research reveals to me what burglars want:

A burglar usually heads to the master bedroom first in hopes of finding jewelry, cash or even a small safe to carry away.

All electronics are valuable because they are easily sold. This includes cell phones, tablets, game consoles and, of course, flat-screen TVs.

Quality china or silver are still valuable and a great find along with collectibles, or even artwork hanging on the wall.

Firearms. (Those should be locked up if they are in the house.)

Tools are especially wanted by burglars, especially expensive power tools.

Here, collected from sources online, are tips for preventing burglaries:

Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.

Lock all doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.

Keep your garage door closed and locked.

Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers to build up while you are away. Arrange with the post office to hold your mail or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly if you’re out of town.

Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended time.

Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.

Push-button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Instead, install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.

Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.

Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

Don’t share vacation plans on social media.

As an aside, I once wrote an article about what to do if confronted at your front or back door by a burglar trying to gain access. I suggested that the homeowner keep a can of hornet spray at both entries because that spray hits its target with precision and from greater distances.

I received an e-mail in response to that tip from a reader who admonished me for such a terrible suggestion that could permanently blind someone. How would you feel then, he asked?

I tried my best to pull back from that position, but confess that I had a hard time feeling any sympathy for the perpetrator of a home invasion.

But, of course, it’s better to take the precautions suggested above so that you need not have to resort to more extreme options.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest-running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of Bill Primavera, The Home Guru, to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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