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 to try breaking into a home. Good
locks -- and good neighbors who watch out for each other -- can be big
deterrents to burglars.
Check the Locks
Did you know that in almost half of all
completed residential burglaries, thieves simply breezed in through
unlocked doors or crawled through unlocked windows?
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 sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then
insert a pin in the hole.
windows with key locks or "pin" 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 grills 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
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 Outside
Look at your home 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.
Clearly display your
house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your
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 collect
Make a list of your
valuables -- VCR's, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take photos
of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions.
Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through
Ask local law
enforcement for a free home security survey.
Consider an Alarm
Alarms 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.
Learn 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 rapes, robberies, and
assaults 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 police. If you can't leave, lock yourself in a room
with a phone and call police. If an intruder is in your
room, pretend you are asleep.
Guns are responsible
for many accidental deaths in the home every year. Think
carefully before buying a gun. If you do own one, learn how
to store it and use it safely.
There's More You Can Do
Join a neighborhood watch group. If one
doesn't exist, you can start one with help form local law enforcement.
Never leave a
message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away
from home. Rather than saying, "I'm not at home right now,"
say, "I'm not available right now."