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Burglary prevention tips

Are you doing all you can to keep your home safe from burglars? Here are some tips to help stop unwanted visitors from entering your home:

  • Check to see if valuables are visible from the street. If a burglar can see electronics and artwork merely by glancing in your windows, consider moving them.
  • Develop good security habits. Roughly one-third of all burglaries occur because doors and windows are left unlocked. You should establish a routine that you follow each time you leave the house, such as making certain that all doors and windows are locked and alarm systems are activated. In addition, don't hide house keys in obvious places, such as under doormats or on top of the door frame.
  • Make sure exterior doors are strong. The doors to your home should be made of metal or solid hardwood and be at least 1-inch thick. It is also important that your door frames are constructed equally well and that doors fit in their frames securely. A weak door or door frame renders a good lock useless. Add an extra lock for sliding glass doors to prevent them from being forced open or lifted off of their tracks.
  • Deadbolt locks offer the best protection. The cylinder — where the key is inserted — should be "pick resistant."
  • Lock your windows. You should lock your windows with key locks or other devices. It is also possible for you to pin the sashes of a double-hung window together by using a removable bolt. Make it time-consuming to break into your home.
  • Consider a burglar alarm. Security systems vary in cost, but often the price can be at least partially offset by discounts in your home insurance premiums. So before purchasing an alarm system, check with your insurance company to see which alarm systems qualify for a discount.
  • Keep your home well lit. When you go out for the evening, leave a few lights on in the house, and leave the outside lights on, too. Place outdoor motion-activated floodlights high out of reach so they can't be easily tampered with. Before going away overnight, put lights and a radio on automatic timers.
  • Trim shrubs and trees near doors and windows. High fences and shrubbery can hide a burglary in process, so trade in some privacy for visibility and security.
  • Vacation time means extra precautions. You don't want to signal your absence with a pile of newspapers on your stoop and an overflowing mailbox. Temporarily stop your newspaper and have the post office hold your mail until you return. In the spring and summer, have someone mow your lawn, while in the winter, have someone shovel your driveway. If possible, you should ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by and check on your home while you're away.

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