Hollywood portrays burglars as highly trained groups of criminals who spend weeks planning a crime. The reality is that unless you have the crown jewels of Russia in your home, most break-ins are opportunistic. Robbers usually look for easy targets or “quick wins.” When scoping out a potential home, burglars will look for the path of least resistance. And what do “easy pickings” look like to a thief? Picture this: windows obscured by bushes, no exterior lighting, unlocked doors, open windows, and newspapers piled up outside. These homes are practically inviting burglars in to take whatever they’d like. (To avoid situations like this, check out our post on how to protect your home when you’re on vacation.)
No matter how they enter, burglars typically look for small and easily transportable items that they can grab quickly. Cash, jewelry, laptops, cameras and other small electronic devices are among the most popular items for criminals to snag. So, what’s the best way to prevent a burglar from taking off with your heirloom necklace or favorite piece of tech?
I recently sat down with retired NYPD Detective Ira Weiss to hear his perspective on home security. According to Weiss, there are a few simple, proactive steps that homeowners and renters can take to protect their homes. In law enforcement circles, this is called “target hardening,” broken down into “The Four Ds”:
Think of this as the pre-selection phase when a criminal is looking for an easy target. In order to make your home less attractive to thieves, make sure all your doors and windows are locked, you have good external lighting, your mail has been collected, and your home looks like someone’s living there.
This is the “attempted entry” phase where a criminal has targeted your home, but he/she is denied access by strong door and window locks, a security system, or a neighborhood watch.
At this stage the criminal has entered your home, but can’t find any items to steal. That’s because your valuables have been hidden and/or are secured in safes, delaying the crime and giving you a larger window of time to respond.
Detection can occur before, during, or after a robbery. For example, an eyewitness or neighbor might report suspicious activity before the criminal has a chance to break in. Similarly, a security system with a video camera might record someone trying to enter and alert your smartphone so you can signal an alarm or call the police.
A break-in is never easy to deal with, but by using The Four Ds, you can reduce your home’s chances of being targeted by burglars. Implementing these simple steps will help keep your apartment or home safe, and, more importantly, keep you and your loved ones safe, too.
Have other tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your comments below.