North Dakota

Risk Factors for Burglary and Home Invasion
There are some risk factors that can contribute to an increased likelihood of home invasion and burglary, but no homeowner is truly immune. Luckily for upstanding citizens, the technology used by home security companies is constantly improving. Where decades ago residents could only lock their doors and hope for the best, now motion sensor lights, monitored alarms, and security cameras exist that can help. As with most problems in life, the best solutions to preventing break-ins are preventative in nature. The idea is to make it clear that the home will not be an easy target. Even among households that have alarms, there is a higher rate of break-ins when the official placard is not displayed to deter potential unwanted guests. Obviously having a home security system that is obvious to intruders is the most effective way to keep them out. However, with all of the products now on the market, it can be hard to decide exactly how much home security is necessary. When deciding what preventative steps are appropriate, it’s just good sense to consider how likely it is that a house will be broken into. Below are some basic considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether a home security alarm system is necessary and whether it will be enough to deter any potential burglars. Location, Location, Location Statistically, homes that are located in high crime areas are more likely to be broken into. If other homeowners in the area have experienced property damage, it’s probably best to have a more extensive system installed. That one’s a no-brainer, but even in ostensibly safe areas some homes are more appealing to burglars than others. The typical burglar looks for homes on the outskirts of neighborhoods, and homes that are somewhat isolated from their neighbors. Those near major thoroughfares and highly trafficked areas are also more susceptible to break-ins, so homeowners in those areas should at the very least consider installing a monitored alarm. Occupancy and Regularity of Schedule Most burglars are not going to attempt to break into an obviously occupied home. This shouldn’t be taken to mean that security alarms should only be set when the family is on vacation, though. Households that are consistently unoccupied during the day, particularly those whose residents work or attend school according to strict schedules, and those that do not have dogs at home while everyone is gone, are also at greater risk. 60% of the break-ins in this country occur during the day. Families whose homes remain vacant may want to consider motion sensors or timers for their lights, radios, televisions, or other appliances in addition to a security alarm. These can make it appear as though people are home, confusing burglars and making the home less of an appealing target. Low Visibility As noted above, houses at the edges of neighborhoods are more likely to be broken into than those nestled comfortably in between attentive neighbors. The same goes for houses that are set back from the road, or have trees, bushes, shrubs, or architectural features that cover up doors and windows. Inadequate exterior lighting can also play a part in making a home an easy target. Many of these issues can be fixed by installing more exterior lights, or reconsidering burglar-friendly landscape designs. Keep in mind that most burglars don’t just waltz in through the front door. Two thirds of burglaries involve forced entry, so obscured windows and back or side doors will be much more appealing. These should also be well-lit and their view unobstructed from the road. Visible Signs of Vulnerability Older homes that are less structurally sound are targeted more often than those that appear to be of more solid construction. Old doors, decaying window frames, and residents’ carelessness in leaving windows open can all make a house appear vulnerable. Most burglars only carry simple tools such as screwdrivers and crowbars, so solid, well-constructed windows and doors can sometimes be enough of a deterrent. Basement windows and garage doors are some of the most likely areas to be targeted for a forced entry, so don’t forget about them. Visible Signs of Wealth On the flip side of the coin, homes that show off ostentatious signs of wealth, regardless of the condition of the home, are also favored targets. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having nice things, but it may be best to keep them away from the windows. Homeowners with large bay windows and other uniquely vulnerable architectural features may want to consider investing some extra money in their home security system. Visible Signs of Absence Although not all burglaries take place while the family is away on vacation, many of them do. This makes it important to give the appearance of occupation when no-one is at home. Keep the lawn well-maintained, and avoid allowing newspapers to collect on the front porch. For those planning a vacation, now would be a good time to consider installing additional security measures such as timers for lights and appliances to supplement an existing home security alarm system. The “Friend” Factor Unfortunately many acts of property violence are committed by people who know the victim. Installing a basic alarm system and maintaining good relationships with the neighbors can help to avoid break-ins by strangers, but they won’t help if the potential burglar is an acquaintance or a family friend. The majority of these crimes are committed by young white men, and there is a high prevalence of drug or alcohol abuse among the perpetrators. If there is already an alarm system in place, think first before giving out the codes to just anyone.