At the holidays, your home is a thief’s favorite shopping center. How to stop that

Police offer high-tech, low-tech and no-tech suggestions for protecting your home from a break-in.
(AFP/Getty Images)

Of course you locked the door when you left the house. Forgetting to do that is an open invitation to burglars, especially at the holidays.

Maybe you’d better check it twice, especially at this time of year. About 64% of burglaries are the considerable downside of forgetting to lock the door.

Think of your home as an onion, said Det. Richard Lee of the South Pasadena Police Department: It needs to have layers of protection.


Lee, a crime prevention officer, and the Automobile Club of Southern California were part of an effort Wednesday to raise awareness of such crimes and reduce their possibility. Inside and outside a South Pasadena home, police gave media a chance to remind residents of high-tech, low-tech and no-tech ways to create a barrier between you and the bad guys. Among the suggestions:

• Put a home security sign in your front yard. You may not have a security system, but the mere presence of a sign in the yard will deter up to 90% of would-be thieves, Lee said.

• Consider technology. A home alarm system ratchets up your security quotient, but you must remember to “arm” it, which people sometimes forget to do, Lee said.

• Video doorbells can help as well. After acquiring and installing one, you don’t have to do anything to reap the benefits; movements are recorded automatically. Many come with a social media component that can alert you to potential problems around the neighborhood.

• Here’s something that requires no investment: Get to know your neighbors and get active in Neighborhood Watch.

• Invest in a little bit of hardware. A strikeplate on the front door makes it harder to open. Locks on sliding windows or doors or a dowel in the “track” of the slider can keep thieves out.


• Man’s best friend may also be man’s best burglar deterrent. Again, thieves will go where they are less likely to encounter trouble.

• Keep your presents out of sight, both before and after Christmas.

• Good lighting keeps your holidays merry and bright. Motion detector lights, including those powered by solar, can discourage intruders from choosing your home.

• Don’t forget to lock the gate and the doors in the back of your house. Burglars aren’t going to risk being seen from the street so they’ll stage a burglary out of sight of neighbors. Good lighting is a good idea there too.

• Don’t unwittingly let your landscaping provide a hiding spot. Keep shrubs and bushes lower to the ground or select vegetation with thorns or spines: rose bushes, cactus, bougainvillea. Popular Mechanics has a list of “nine plants that will mess you up.” They hurt just to look at.

• Finally, be mindful and aware. Our daily routines become so automatic that we don’t always concentrate on making sure we’ve taken all the precautions.