Common Types of Theft & What You Can Do To Prevent It From Happening
Of the more than 15 million property crimes committed in 2009, home burglaries account for over 3 million incidences of theft. Burglary, as defined by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, is the forcible entry or attempted entry into a home or residence. For example, a window may be broken or a locked door could be pried open. When most people think of theft from a home, burglary is the first concern that comes to mind.
According to legal definitions, however, there are many types of theft. Here are the other most common types:
- Theft covers all acts of using someone’s property or services without appropriate compensation. Some examples include shoplifting, fraud or failure to pay a worker for service.
- Larceny is a term often used interchangeably with theft. It has the same meaning in regards to one person taking another’s property or money, but it is usually used in the context of embezzlement or other monetary theft.
- Robbery involves a forcible theft from a person, such as a mugging or bank robbery. Some burglaries can turn into robberies if the homeowner is home.
Although other types of theft, like identity theft and fraud, pose a threat to many Americans, securing a home against burglars is a vital first step toward protection from thieves of all kinds. Below are some tips for protecting yourself and your home against burglars.
What Thieves Look For
When securing your home against potential burglars, it helps to think like a burglar. Here are a few things that potential thieves look for when choosing a home to invade:
Things to steal: For most thieves, monetary gain is the primary motivation for breaking into a home. If a would-be thief knows that a home contains valuable items such as jewelry and electronics, he will be more likely to risk breaking into that home.
Easy opportunities: If a thief finds a window that’s left open or a door that’s unlocked, he will be more likely to choose that house over a neighboring home with tighter security.
An empty home: Most burglars want to avoid robberies whenever possible as they are riskier than thefts from an empty home. If a burglar sees that a house has its lights shut off and an empty driveway, that home will become a more attractive target.
Inattentive neighbors: Homes in a neighborhood where neighbors look out for one another tend to be victimized less by thieves than areas where residents are strangers. Additionally, a row of vacant homes will attract a thief much faster than a busy neighborhood.
Lack of a security system: Thieves who know that a home is equipped with a security system will be less willing to risk breaking in as the chances of being caught are much higher.
Some burglars will watch a house for days or even months before making a move. During this time, they may watch your home closely or even monitor your personal habits. This means that it’s up to you to remain vigilant against possible burglars.
How To Deter Thieves
The best way to protect your home against burglary is to ensure it’s not an easy target. The more difficult you make it for thieves to break into your home, the less likely they will be to target you as a victim. Here are a few tips:
Install a home security system: Even a simple alarm will work, but the best security systems are those that issue alerts to law enforcement. The knowledge that the police will arrive shortly after the alarm goes off is enough to deter most thieves.
Keeping doors and windows closed and locked: Burglars may watch you for some time, and they might notice if you skip a vital part of your daily routine. Always double-check locks and windows.
Leave some lights on when you go out: Even better, find someone to watch your house for you if you’ll be away for an extended period. If a house looks occupied, most thieves will be unwilling to risk invasion. Maybe even install motion detected lights.
Install an alarm: This is most important part of protecting your home. Deterring potential thieves may not be enough to prevent all break-ins, however, and having a backup plan is always a good idea. This is why installing a home security system is so important: If the break-in does occur, law enforcement can be notified right away.
As an added benefit, increasing your home’s security can also save you money on home insurance. It may even improve the terms of your mortgage. Saving money while protecting your home is always a worthwhile investment, and following the tips above can help protect your property against the unknown.