To most of us, Black Friday means hitting the malls and department stores before the sun rises, frantically taking advantage of all the great deals, having fun with our shopping buddies and finally dragging our loot–and our exhausted selves–back home long after dark. For both amateur and professional burglars, however, Black Friday means something entirely different.
To criminals, Black Friday is the day that three out of every five homes in their neighborhood will probably be empty–and prime targets for break-ins and burglaries.
Although it’s fun (and budget-savvy) to take advantage of Black Friday deals, don’t let thieves take advantage of you by exploiting your absence and stealing your hard-earned household items. Beat them at their own game by using these 10 burglar-proof tactics to prevent a break-in from ruining your Black Friday fun:
1. If you already have holiday decorations up and they are blocking windows, take them down for the day so robbers can’t hide behind them while they are inside your home. For future reference, consider planting thorny bushes under first-story windows. Prickly bushes make great additions to your yard but don’t make it easy for burglars to practice their craft.
2. Many homeowners try to do last minute exterior projects before it gets really cold outside. Before your Black Friday adventure, make sure no tools or ladders have been left outside your home. Also, if you have garden shed or small garage in your back yard, check that they are locked and secured before heading to the stores..
3. After locking sliding glass doors, place an old broom handle (without the broom part) or sturdy stick of wood to reinforce closure of the doors.
4. Cover garage door windows with any kind of opaque material so that burglars can’t see if your vehicle is parked in there. To thieves, visibly empty garages on Black Friday are like invitations to a housewarming event where they are the only guests.
5. Don’t leave notes on your doors telling everybody where you will be all day. This may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many people do this without realizing the consequences.
6. Invest in programmable lamp/light timers that automatically turn your inside lights on and off at preset times. Burglars scoping out a home for several hours to make sure no one is there aren’t likely to take a chance on robbing a residence where lights appear to be in use.
7. If you already own a big, intimidating dog with a loud, deep bark–great! If not, purchase two “Beware of Dog” signs and put one in your front yard and one in your back yard. Not even seasoned burglars are rash enough to break into a home that just might be guarded by an overly protective, 120-pound pit bull.
8. If you have to leave your trash out on Black Friday because it happens to be your trash pick-up day, don’t put out boxes that tell thieves you just bought a big-screen television, desktop computer or other big, expensive item they would love to steal and sell at the nearest pawn store. Leave the boxes inside the garage or cut them up and put them in black trash bags.
9. Install motion sensor alarms on windows and doors so that loud sirens or beeps are tripped if a burglar opens them when you are gone. Motion sensor alarms are not only great as Black Friday thief deterrents but as an overall crime preventative throughout the year.
10. If you know anyone who will be going by your home on Black Friday, ask them to pick up your mail. To an opportunistic thief, a stuffed mailbox means a chance to stuff his wallets with money made by pawning your stuff.