Palm Springs has its share of burglaries and, in fact, gets an “F” grade from stats site AreaVibes.com because of its high rate of home pilferings. For the most recent period for which statistics are available, Palm Springs recorded 746 burglaries, which works out to 1,557 per 100,000 people, way above the California average of 479.
A partial explanation is that the area has so many second homes that burglars just can’t resist helping themselves to the goodies that part-time residents leave unattended for months at a time. But whatever the reason, home burglary is a factor to be dealt with, so it might be wise to resolve to beef up your home’s security in 2018.
It’s not just Palm Springs, of course. A home burglary occurs approximately every 15 seconds in the United States and, on average, results in a loss of about $1,600. Occasionally, there are injuries or deaths when a homeowner confronts a burglar.
A recent study found that 30% of all burglaries are classified as “unlawful entry,” meaning the burglar was able to gain entry without using force – often through an unlocked door or window, according to Nationwide Insurance.
You might think of burglars as creeping around in the middle of the night when homeowners are asleep. But in fact, 62% occur during the daytime, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., when no one is likely to be at home.
Only 13% of reported burglaries are solved by the police, so it’s essential to make homes as secure as possible. The most obvious way to do this is to install a home security system and use it regularly. Newer systems are easier than ever to install and are much less expensive and restrictive than older systems, yet only about 30% of homes have security systems.
What to do
Besides installing a security system, there are plenty of obvious but often overlooked steps experts recommend, including these:
Don’t put your belongings on display. Close curtains and blinds.
Keep your garage doors closed. If there are windows in your garage, lock them.
Park your car in the garage and lock it! When parking, don’t leave the garage door opener on the sun visor. A thief can find your address from your registration card and let himself into your garage (and from there, probably into your home).
If you have electronic keypads on your door locks, check them regularly for wear. Keys may become discolored with use, which can give crooks a clue to your combination.
Think twice about electronic doors locks that are controlled by your smartphone or wi-fi system. A hacker can also be a burglar.
Keep ladders and tools in a locked and secure space. Why make it easy for a burglar to get to your second-floor windows?
Lock your pet door. A crook can use it to gain entry just as easily as your dog or cat can.
Keep passports, financial documents and other valuables in a safe or lock box. Store the safe in the basement or some other isolated area. Remember, a safe may be “fireproof” but its contents may still melt in a fire, so keep copies of everything, preferably off-site.
Make sure your street number is clearly visible so police and fire-rescue can find you quickly if you need help.
Don’t advertise your vacation plans on social media or elsewhere. Why issue an invitation to thieves?
Shred confidential papers before discarding them. Break down packing boxes that display brand names. Don’t tell burglars you have a new high-def TV.
And, of course, have adequate outside lighting. Put a few inside lights on timers so your home looks lived-in even when you’re not there.
Have enough insurance
When all else fails, homeowners insurance can help you recover your financial losses.
Just having insurance isn’t enough. You need to keep it up to date. Most consumers have a lot more valuables in their homes today than just a few decades ago. Just think of all the TVs, smartphones and other valuable and easily-fenced goodies in your home.
It’s a good idea to update your insurance very few years to be sure you’re haven’t undervalued your belongings. Also, experts recommend you list all valuable items and perhaps do a walkaround video to provide additional evidence of all the neat stuff in your home.
This story is adapted from a report that originally appeared in FairfaxNews. Reprinted with permission.