Your Home: As Safe as You Think?
Traditionally, most of us have regarded our home as a place safe from intrusions of
crime in the streets. If you are 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 trying to break into a home. Good
locks and good neighbors who watch out for each other can be big deterrents to burglars.
What You Can Do
Check the Locks
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 deadbolt lock. Key-in-the-knob
locks 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.
- Lock double-hung 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 grilles or grates.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give an extra key to a neighbor
- 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 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 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 pick it up.
- Make a list of your valuables: DVD players, VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry. Take
photos of the items, list their serial numbers and descriptions.
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 set off false alarms.
There's More You Can Do
- Join a neighborhood watch group.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you may be away from
- Work with neighborhoods and local government to organize community clean-ups. The
cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive it is to crime.