If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge? You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can break in, so can a burglar!
One out of
ten homes will be burglarized this year. For a small amount of time and
money you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of
being a victim. Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds
trying to break into a home. Good locks and good neighbors, who watch
out for each other, can be big deterrents to burglars.
CHECK THE LOCKS.
you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries,
thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly
secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks
or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door.
To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the
slide door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or pin your windows by
drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between the inner and outer
frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows
with grilles or grates.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
CHECK THE DOORS
A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car door but leaving the window down.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather stripping around them.
- Install a peephole or wide angle viewer in all entry doors so you
can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains break
easily and don't keep out intruders.
CHECK THE OUTDOORS
Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips.
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide
doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to
an upper-level window.
- If you travel, create the illusion that
you're at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off
in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning
24 hours a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds, and
curtains in normal positions. And don't let your mail pile up! Call the
post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.
Make a list of your valuables - VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take
photos of the items, list their serial numbers and description. Check
with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through Operation
- Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.
CONSIDER A HOME ALARM
can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables in your
home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history of break-ins.
- Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide what
level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established
company and check references before signing a contract
how to use your system properly! Don't "cry wolf" by setting off false
alarms. People will stop paying attention and you'll probably be fined.
- Some less expensive options, a sound-detecting socket that plugs
into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain
noises, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone
approaches, or lights with photo cells that turn on when it's dark and
off when it's light.
BURGLARS DO MORE THAN STEAL
Burglars can commit rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.
- If something looks questionable, a slit screen, a broken window or
an open door, don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's house or a
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking
in, leave safely if you can, then call the police. If you can't leave,
lock yourself in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder
is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
- Guns are responsible
for many accidental deaths in the home every year. If you choose to own a
gun, learn how to store it and use it safely.