Home Security

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 might think that this is a good idea, however, if you can break in to your house, so can a burglar. One out of six homes will be burglarized this year in the United States. For a small amount of money and time, you can make your home more secure and reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

Check The Locks

  • Did you know that in almost half of 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 from being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
  • Lock double-hung windows with key locks on "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 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 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 Outside

  • 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.
  • Clearly display your house number so police and other emergency vehicles can find your home quickly.
  • 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 you mail pile up. Call the post office to stop delivery or have a neighbor pick it up.
  • Make a list of you valuables (VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry, etc.,). Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions. Engrave valuables with identifying marks if no identifying information is present.

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 or 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.
  • 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 cellular or public telephone.
  • At night, if you thin k you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call police. If you can't, 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!

  • 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 to take your call right now."
  • Work with the neighbors and local government to organize community cleanups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.