Things to think about and know are:
- A burglar won't find your home an "easy mark" if he or she is forced to work in the light, if he or she has to take a lot of time breaking in, and if he or she can't break in without making a lot of noise.
- CASE YOUR PLACE
- Take the time to "case" your house or apartment, just as a burglar would. Where is the easiest entry? How can you make it more burglar resistant?
- Trim trees and shrubs near your doors and windows, and think carefully before installing a high, wooden fence around your back yard. High fences and shrubbery can add to your privacy, but privacy is a burglar's asset. Consider trading a little extra privacy for a bit of added security.
- Force any would-be burglar to confront a real enemy -- light. Exterior lights, mounted out of easy reach, can reduce the darkness a burglar finds comforting.
- Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break in to your home, the burglar will go elsewhere.
- Simple security devices -- nails, screws, padlocks, door and window locks, grates, bars and bolts -- can increase the amount of time it takes to break into your home. This could discourage intruders and keep them from entering.
- Try to make the general prospect of robbing your home a noisy job. Consider investing in a burglar alarm. The most effective ones also ring at an outside service.
- Are any of your valuables - paintings, a silver collection or a computer-easy to see from outside? Rearranging your furnishings might be advisable if it makes your home less inviting to criminals.
SIMPLE SECURITY STEPS
- Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors should be metal or solid hardwood, and at least 1 3/4 inches thick. Frames must be made of equally strong material, and each door must fit its frame securely. Even the most efficient lock, if it is placed in a weak door, will not keep out a determined burglar.
- A peephole or a wide-angle viewer in the door is safer for identifying visitors than a door chain.
- Sliding glass doors present a special problem because they are easy to open, but there are locks designed for them. A broomstick in the door channel can help, but don't depend on it for security.
Deadbolt locks are best. They usually are locked with a key from the outside and a thumb turn on the inside. The cylinder (where the key is inserted) should be pick-resistant. Ask your hardware dealer for a reputable brand, or buy your locks from a locksmith.
- Key locks are available for all types of windows. Double-hung windows can be secured simply by "pinning" the upper and lower frames together with a nail, which can be removed from the inside.
- For windows at street level or on fire escapes, consider installing metal accordion gates.
- Most insurance companies provide 2 to 15 percent discounts for devices that make a home safer -- dead-bolt locks, window grates, bars and smoke/fire/burglar alarms.
- When improving the security of your home, it is also important not to exchange security for personal safety. Don't make your home such a fortress that you are unable to escape in case of a fire or other emergency.
HOME SECURITY HABITS
- Establish a routine to follow in making certain that doors and windows are locked and alarm systems are turned on.
- Avoid giving information to unidentified telephone callers, or announcing your personal plans in want ads or public notices (such as giving your address when advertising items for sale).
- Notify police if you see suspicious strangers in your area.
- Handle your keys carefully. Don't carry house keys on a key ring bearing your home address or leave house keys with your car in a commercial parking lot.
- Don't hide your keys in "secret" places outside your home - burglars usually know where to look.
- Leave blinds open in their usual position.
- Have mail and packages picked up, forwarded or held by the post office.
- Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so they can't be heard outside.
- Arrange to have your lawn mowed or your walk shoveled.
- Stop newspaper deliveries.
- Ask a friend to pick up "throwaway" newspapers and circulars.
- Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off in your living room and bedrooms at appropriate times. Consider connecting a radio to a timer.
- Tell police and dependable neighbors when you plan to be away and join with your neighbors to keep a close watch on what's happening in your area - working closely with them is a good way to prevent crime.