Be One Step Ahead: Theft Prevention Tips from Local Insurance Agent

home-break-in-1Snoqualmie resident and American Family Insurance Agent, Sean Sundwall, is in the business of protecting families and the assets they have worked their entire lives to acquire and preserve.

He said after  reading a story here about some recent break in attempts (and remembering a flurry of break ins last spring), he thought it might be helpful to remind people about some very simple, affordable and effective measures that can be taken to make you, your families and homes a less attractive target for thieves.

He says the key principle to protecting your family and your property is making it more difficult and less appealing for perpetrators. Anything you can do that will reduce the thief’s interest in your home, or give him/her cause to pause, dramatically decreases the chances you will be victimized.

Theft Prevention Tips (mostly free) to protect yourself from being a break in victim:

Alarm System

This is the most obvious option, but it is also the most expensive. Most services run between $25-$35 per month. Most insurance companies offer discounts on homeowners insurance in the range of 6%-10%. While the discount is nice, it generally will only pay for one or two months of the service. So get an alarm system because you think it’s the right thing to do, not because your insurance agent says you will get a discount.

Motion Sensors

This is a very affordable addition or alternative to an alarm system, especially since we have so many hours of darkness during the winter months. Motion sensors at each entry point of the home are likely to scare off any intruder because it creates that extra sense of doubt and fear.

Lights, lights and lights

In the same vein as motion sensors, turn on your outside lights and be consistent. Don’t just turn them on when you leave. Use them on all of the time. The tiny amount of money you will spend on electricity will save you big headaches down the road.

Lock Doors and Windows

Seems obvious enough, but how often do you run a quick errand to the bank or grocery store and leave your doors unlocked. Ever run to pick up the kids from school thinking, “I will only be gone a second.” Minutes turn into hours and that is plenty of time for someone to take whatever they want from your home.

Lock your gate

A very easy access point to the most secluded portions of your home are through the gate. Once in the back yard, thieves are harder to detect. Putting a lock on the gate will be a huge deterrent to thieves.

Beware of the garage

Garages are a common entry point for burglars. Open garage doors serve to advertise your belongings to passersby, which increases the likelihood of theft. So even when you are home, it’s a good idea to keep the garage door closed so people can’t see what is inside.

Background Noise

Leave a radio or TV on while you are away. Again, thieves are looking for the path of least resistance. If they can hear noise in the house, they are much more likely to move on to the next house.

Inventory your Belongings

This is critical but almost never done. In the event of a theft or fire, are you really going to remember everything you lost? Probably not. So you should take an inventory of everything of reasonable value so you have it documented. A really easy way to do this is by using DreamVault by American Family Insurance. It is absolutely free and you do NOT have to be an AmFam customer to use it.  It’s an online inventory keeper that you can use from your computer, iPhone or Android phone. You can upload pictures or documents and include the values of each item. You can also email this list to your insurance agent so he or she can have it on file. In the event of a loss (theft or fire), having a thorough inventory of your property will be a lifesaver.

Sean’s own employee and valley resident, Kim Bumb, was a victim of a home break in last May.  Kim commented, “I never got around to taking photos of my belongings since moving four-and-a-half years ago, it just wasn’t a priority.  Being a victim of theft has given me new perspective. Now, going back and thinking about all the jewelry I collected over the years, I know I’ve missed, forgotten and therefore not been reimbursed for many pieces.”

Talk to your insurance agent

If your insurance agent hasn’t contacted you within the last year to review your coverage levels with you (shame on him or her) then call your agent and request a review to make sure your personal property coverage (and your other coverages) is sufficient, especially big-ticket items like jewelry. So make sure you are covered. If you are a renter, make sure you have renter’s insurance. It’s typically less than $10/month and it will protect your personal belongings against things like theft and fire.

We live in a wonderful community where crime is incredibly low. The fact that an attempted break-in even makes the news is a tribute to how good we have it here. But an important aspect of keeping a community crime free is by making it less “theif-friendly.”  Sean’s hope is that the tips he mentions will help protect you, your family and your home. A little prevention will go a long way.

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