By taking some relatively simple, inexpensive precautions,
you can help make your home a difficult, less attractive target
for thieves - and a more secure environment for you and your
loved ones. Here are some tips for safeguarding your home.
alarm system is an excellent deterrent to crime. More than
90% of the convicted
burglars interviewed in a University of Miami study said they
would avoid breaking into a home with an alarm.
Display security system decals on your windows and doors.
Your security system should include a loud siren, sensors
on both the front and back doors, and motion sensors in the
master bedroom (where thieves search for cash, jewelry and
guns) and the living/family room (where thieves look for valuable
all doors and windows, even if you're just running a short
errand during the day. Most home burglaries occur between
8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Deadbolt locks provide the best security.
High quality, name-brand locks are well worth the investment.
If you choose double-cylinder deadbolt locks (the kind that
require keys on both the outside and inside), keep the key
where everyone in the house can reach it quickly incase of
fire. You can leave the key in the lock if there isn't any
glass in the door or a window within 40" of the lock,
where someone could smash the glass and grab the key.
Leave your curtains slightly parted.
Drapes or shades that are fully closed give a deserted look
to a home or apartment.
Put your lights, TV and stereo on timers.
Stagger the times they'll go on and off while you are away
so it looks and sounds as if someone is home. Consider installing
outdoor floodlights that are motion activated. Make sure these
are placed where burglars can't easily tamper with them.
valuables away from the windows so burglars can't see them
from outside. Use an etching tool to mark your valuables with
an easily identifiable number, such as your driver's license
number and state abbreviation. This helps police identify
your property and makes the valuables harder for the thief
to sell. The etching tool is a minor expense, and many local
police departments will even lend them to you for free. Prepare
a household inventory of all your belongings and any serial
numbers. Keep it updated and store it somewhere other than
your house, such as a safe deposit box, so it will not be
destroyed in a fire or other disaster.
hide a key in the mailbox, under the doormat or above the
doorway. These are the first places thieves look. Don't put
your name or address on your key ring. When you leave your
car with a parking lot attendant or auto service shop, give
them only your car keys. Buy a key chain that allows you to
separate your house keys from your car keys easily. If there's
a chance a former owner or tenant might still have the key
to your home, change the locks.
Mail and Other
your mail held at the post office when you leave town. Full
mailboxes make it clear to burglars that no one is home. Stop
your paper delivery until you return from vacation. Ask a
friend or neighbor to pick up any packages or flyers left
outside while your away.
Driveways and yards...
possible, leave a car parked in your driveway when you go
on vacation. Ask a friend or neighbor to use the driveway
in your absence, or to change your car's position every couple
of days. Have your lawn mowed or leaves raked while you are
away so your house appears inhabited. Trim trees and shrubs
so burglars have fewer places to hide.
Exterior doors and windows...
doors with solid wood, fiberglass or steel. The best locks
in the world are useless if installed on weak doors. Make
sure your door's hinges are on the inside. If the hinges are
on the outside, a burglar can easily remove the pins and take
the door down. Secure your double-hung windows by bolting
the sashes together or placing a metal bar in the track. Add
security to your sliding glass doors, which often have weak
locks. Installing a bolt lock will help prevent the door from
being slid open or lifted out of its track. Install a bar
on the door to a basement or garage and install bars on basement
windows to keep out burglars.
peepholes in your exterior doors, and don't open the door
to someone you don't know. Don't trust a safety chain, which
can be broken easily with force. When service representatives
come to your door, ask for identification. If they don't have
an appointment, call their employer for verification while
they wait outside. Don't tell strangers or casual acquaintance
that you're going out of town. Although they may seem trustworthy,
you'd be surprised how quickly the news spreads.
your garage door opener is fairly new and has an individualized
frequency code, you should have changed the code when you
installed the garage door or bought your house. If you didn't,
individualized your code today by removing the covers from
the transmitter and receiver and resetting the switches. You'll
avoid being the next victim of burglars who drive around with
common transmitters, clicking them until a garage door opens.
Keeping your garage locked is as important as keeping your
home locked, especially if the garage is attached. Once inside
the garage, a burglar can work uninterrupted at getting into
your house. A deadbolt lock is particularly important here.
look for empty outdoor garbage cans, knowing that occupied
homes produce garbage at least every few days. When you're
away from home, have a neighbor put some trash in your receptacles
or, if your garbage is picked up curbside, have them put a
few bags in front of your house.
Neighborhood Watch Programs...
These are programs
designed by and for local community residents to help ensure
the safety of all those living in the area. Neighbors who
watch out for one another are a great defense against crime.
Join your Neighborhood Watch program or consider starting
one in your neighborhood. Notify the police immediately of
any suspicious people, trucks or cars in the neighborhood.
Don't worry about being a nuisance. The police will welcome
your call and the opportunity to prevent a burglary.
Make an effort to meet your
Check on older relatives and friends
from time to time, and make sure their security devices and
smoke detectors are working. Burglars choose homes that appear
unoccupied and easy to access. It's your job to convince a
would-be burglar that your home is difficult to enter and
that someone is always home. By following the tips listed
above, you will help discourage thieves and make your home
and your neighborhood a safer place to live.