Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds to try breaking into a home. Good locks, good lighting, 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?
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" windows by drilling a small hole at a 45 degree angle into the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- 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.
- 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 Outside
Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following tips:
- Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep them on at night.
Many insurance companies advise their customers to complete a personal property inventory in the event of a house fire or other destructive natural event. The inventory serves several purposes, but it would also provide us with additional investigative information and aid in the recovery of personal property, as well as help support criminal charges.
- Make a list of your valuables - VCRs, stereos, computers, and jewelry.
- Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions.
- Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables.
A general personal property inventory form can be downloaded here.