They arrive home to find their possessions thrown all over the place and their valuables gone, from television sets to jewelry.
Many people assume that only a burglar alarm will protect them from a residential burglary.
But burglar alarms may actually be far less effective than other steps to keep you and your home safe.
In fact, a loud and noisy dog can do more to keep burglars away than a home alarm.
Home alarms don't bite or attack burglars.
Given a choice between two houses, robbers will often choose the one without the dog.
They don't want to take a chance on being mauled or bitten by that dog.
Tips like these can greatly lower your chances of being robbed or having your home burglarized.
Try to think like a burglar as you walk around your home.
Would you be easily able to climb on a chair and get in through a back window? Are you unwittingly making it easy for a burglar to break into your home? If so, make sure that outside furniture and trash cans are put away when you leave home or made less accessible to burglars.
Remember that home intruders want to get in and out of homes quickly.
They have one goal and that is to grab as many valuables as they can and leave the premises.
If they can break a window or door lock on the first floor, it is like having an open invitation to step into your home.
Consider having double paned glass and extra locks on all first floor windows and doors.
Anything that slows down a robber may have the person looking for a different home to rob.
Don't go out of your way to advertise the most expensive items in your home.
If you don't have curtains on your windows, you may be showing off your living room to anyone who drives by.
That could lead to temptation.
Take common sense measures to keep valuables out of sight.
Use a layered approach to home protection.
Think of an onion.
To get to the onion's deeper layers, you first have to get through the skin.
Similarly, how many layers of protection do you have around your home, particularly at entry points? For example, do you only have a lock on the window to your garage? If so, consider adding a removable steel bar inside the window or even add larger vertical bars to the outside of the window.
Suddenly, you've just added that extra layer that makes your home more difficult to burglarize.
Breaking through a garage window is one of the easiest ways for criminals to get into your garage and to the door from the garage into your home.
Don't make it simple for them.
If you walk around your neighborhood, you may see driveways where several days' worth of newspapers are at the foot of the driveway.
This immediately serves as sign that the homeowners are gone.
Get together with your neighbors and come up with a plan to pick up any mail or newspapers for those who might have to leave home unexpectedly, perhaps to care for a sick relative.
Trust your instincts.
If you see a strange car parked outside a neighbor's home and people acting suspiciously, looking over their shoulders, as they walk around the home, call your neighbor.
If no one answers, play it safe and call the police.
Better to be on the safe side than to let a home be robbed.
Organize a neighborhood crime watch and ask the local police department if they have representatives to talk to neighbors.
This can be an excellent way to discover new actions you can take to cut down on break-ins.
You can even put up a sign which notes that yours is a crime watch neighborhood.