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Secure Your Home
Tips to Secure Your Home
  • Alarm System: There are various types of alarms - motion, spot, perimeter, wireless - each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Before buying one, consider your objectives: What are you trying to protect? How much money do you want to spend? Are there children or pets in the home?
  • Best Lock: A double-cylinder deadbolt lock with a hardened cylinder guard and a reinforced steel insert offers the best protection for residential homes.
  • Beware of Dog Sign: This can be a deterrent - even if you don't have a dog.
  • Choose the Right Lock: Doors should have high-quality locks that resist being picked, cut, or tampered with burglars. The best kind of lock is a double-cylinder deadbolt that requires a key to be opened from either side. But remember, if you're inside the house and the door is locked, you'll need a key to get out. So keep one handy in case of emergency.
  • Doors: Doors are the most common way of entry for burglars. They should be locked whether you're inside, in the yard, or away from home. They should be solid-core or steel-clad. Outside hinges should have internal pins to keep them from being lifted out. Doors with windowpanes should be reinforced with unbreakable glass or iron grill work.
  • Driveway: Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway or in front of your house when you're on vacation.
  • Exterior Lights: Floodlights deter burglars. Arrange them to illuminate all possible points of entry.
  • Fences: Fences help keep burglars from carrying away large or bulky items. A wire-mesh fence provides visibility that a solid fence doesn't. If there is a gate, keep it locked.
  • Garage Door: Keep garage door closed and locked. The door leading from the garage to the house - a favorite for burglars - should be solid core, with secure hinges and a deadbolt lock. Electric door openers should be unplugged and the door should be padlocked from inside when you're away from home. Drill a hole in the door and the frame - then slip a padlock through the holes.
  • Garage Windows: Keep windows locked. They also should be covered with shades or blinds and be reinforced with extra locks or bars.
  • Indoor Lights: Don't leave indoor lights on 24 hours a day. Use timers to turn them on and off if you're not home.
  • Landscaping: Keep shrubs and plants trimmed away from windows and doors so you don't give burglars a hiding place.
  • Locks: The common lock-within-the-knob offers convenience, but not enough security. A single-cylinder deadbolt lock should be used with solid wood or steel-clad doors. A double-cylinder deadbolt operated by a key from both sides - should be used in doors where there is glass within 40 inches of the lock.
    • Bad Lock: The dead-latch lock provides little or no security and should be replaced. A burglar can easily force this lock open by slipping a credit card or pry bar between the door and frame. 
    • Good Lock: A deadbolt lock with a thumb-turn is the second best kind of lock for a home. This lock requires a key to open from the outside, but can be opened from the inside simply by turning the knob. Remember that if you have glass in or around your door, a burglar could break the glass then just reach inside to unlock the door.
  • Mailbox: The mailbox should be large enough to handle all the mail you receive. Put it where neighbors can see it. And if you must put your name on the box, use only your first initial and last name.
  • Sheds: Storage sheds, especially those containing ladders or tools that a burglar might use to break - should be kept locked.
  • Signs and Decals: Put alarm warning stickers or neighborhood watch signs on doors or windows.
  • Skylights: Roof lights or entrances should be sealed and reinforced with bars or screens to keep burglars from getting inside.
  • Sliding Glass Doors: To prevent a sliding glass door from being lifted out of its tracks, screw three pan-head sheet metal screws into the top of the frame. Adjust the screws to take up any slack between the door and the frame.
    • To further secure the door, drill a small hole at a downward angle in the overlap between the door and the frame, then insert a steel pin or heavy nail.
  • Street Address: Make street numbers large and lighted or reflective so police or rescue workers can find your home quickly in an emergency.
  • Street Lights: Good streetlights deter crime. Report broken street lights to your city or county maintenance department.
  • Trash: If you're away, have a neighbor use your garbage can to make it look like you're home.
  • Valuables: Don't display your electronic equipment, cameras, or computers. Keeping valuables in plain sight only makes it easier for burglars to see what they want to take.
  • Vents: Vents leading under the house should be reinforced with metal bars.
  • Viewer: A wide-angle viewer - with 190-degree visibility - or door scope should be installed in the front door.
  • Yard Lights: Low-voltage lights on timers can light up walkways and driveways and help neighbors to see and report suspicious activities.
  • Windows: Burglars like open windows - or ones that open easily. Double-hung windows can be reinforced with just two nails. When both parts of the window are closed, drill a hole at a slightly downward angle in the upper corner of the lower sash, extending into the lower corner of the upper sash. Drill this angled hole on both the left - and right-hand sides of the double-hung window - and then insert the nails.
    • Awning windows can be forced open if they are not tightly closed. Remove the crank handle to increase security; but keep it handy in case of emergency.
    • Drapes or shades should be left slightly open. A home or apartment looks deserted if they are drawn and closed.
    • Jalousie windows can be secured by installing metal grating on the inside of the window or by gluing glass slats to the metal clips that hold them.
    • Sliding glass windows can be secured with a snugly fitting dowel in the track, a pin through the frame or keyed locks. Another method, also good for sliding glass doors, is to screw several pan-head sheet metal screws into the top of the frame. Adjust the screws so you can just barely clear the door when sliding it.