Burglar Proofing: Don't Leave Home without It - WBAY


Burglar Proofing: Don't Leave Home without It

How many homes are on your block? Each year, one out of six homes is burglarized. Summer is often a season when reports of burglaries increase, not only because people go away on summer vacation, but because they find their cottages were broken in to during the offseason.

Many burglars, afraid of being noticed, will spend no more than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. The more difficult you make their job, the more likely they are to avoid your home.

There are things you can do to protect your home from invasion at any time of year. Some are simple, while some require an investment (which is probably less than the insurance deductible you would pay if your home were burglarized).

Protecting Your Home

  • Install a deadbolt lock that extends at least 1" beyond the door edge
  • All outside doors should be made of solid wood or steel. Install peep holes in all entry doors
  • Trim shrubbery so it doesn't cover doors or windows, or provide a hiding place for a would-be burglar. Saw off tree limbs that can be used to climb and access an upper story window
  • Install outdoor lighting, especially around doors and the back of the house
  • Install sound- or motion-detecting sockets for light fixtures (indoors or outdoors)
  • Don't hide keys outside the house. Give a key to a trusted friend or neighbor. If you recently moved in, change the locks
  • Lock doors and windows even if you'll just be gone on a short errand. Secure skylights, basement windows, and sliding glass doors (a bar just long enough to fit in the track, such as a shortened broomstick, provides even more security for sliding doors)
  • Make sure your house number is clearly displayed with large, readable numbers
  • Don't keep valuable jewelry at home, use a safe deposit box
  • Make a list of all your valuables. List serial numbers, write detailed descriptions (especially of unique features), and take photos. Ask your local police about engraving your valuables through Operation Identification
  • If you wish to install an alarm, go with an established company and check references. Get opinions from two companies to find a security system that fits your needs. Learn how to use the system correctly and don't set off false alarms
  • Get to know your neighbors. Join a Neighborhood Watch

Before You Leave on Vacation

  • Most importantly, don't let burglars know you're gone.
  • Stop mail and cancel deliveries, or ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail and newspaper each day. Don't leave notes on your door saying you'll be gone
  • See if a friend or neighbor will use your garbage can, put trash on your curb, and park in your driveway occasionally. If you're gone during the winter, ask them to shovel your walk and driveway. Do the same for them when they're on vacation
  • Tell a neighbor your itinerary, when you expect to be back, and phone numbers to reach you in an emergency
  • Ask your local police if they have a home check program. Let police know your dates of departure and return, which rooms have lights on timers, and which neighbor has a key
  • Store valuables in a safe deposit box
  • Leave curtains, shades, and blinds as you normally do
  • Put lights and a radio or TV on automatic timers. Don't program them all for the same time, and if possible don't program lights for exactly on the hour (e.g., turn them on at 6:08 instead of 6:00). If a digital timer allows for various times on different days, so much the better. The goal is, don't let burglars see a pattern
  • Double check that all windows, the basement, and garage are locked
  • Turn your telephone ringer down (or "off"). Don't let a prowler hear a phone going unanswered
  • Don't leave a message on your answering machine that indicates you're away

If a Break-in Happens

  • If you notice signs of entry (e.g., a door ajar, a screen slashed, a window broken), don't go in. Call police from a cellphone, neighbor's house, or public phone
  • If you hear an intruder break in to your home, leave the house if you safely can and call police
  • If you can't leave safely, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call police
  • If an intruder is in your room, pretend you're asleep
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