Protect Your Home From Burglary

Your home is one of your most valuable assets. But when you're away, how can you protect your property against potential burglars?

Here are some safety tips to help you maintain a secure home and help deter would-be burglars.

To begin, take a tour of your home's surrounding yard to check whether you can see both the front and side of your house from the street. These are the spots where patrolling police routinely make their surveillance. There should be no shrubbery, hedges, trees, statuary, or other obstructions blocking a full view of the doors and windows from the street or sidewalk.

A similar tour should be conducted at night. Lack of adequate street or house lighting is an invitation for would-be burglars. Most burglars don't carry ladders. If you can reach up to screw in a new light bulb without a ladder, a burglar can just as easily unscrew it. If you feel your street is inadequately lighted, contact your local city council representative and meet with your neighbors to rally support for the installment of additional street lights. You'll be more effective in bringing about improvements as a group.

When you're away, leave a light on as well as a radio to give the appearance that someone is at home. If you are away for more than an hour or so, set your lights with timers that turn on and off at intervals throughout the evening. Leave your drapes open, particularly on upper floors that don't provide a full view of your home.

Be particularly cautious during well-publicized community events, such as, holiday celebrations or local community events that draw large numbers of families. If you'll be away at a family wedding or funeral, ask a neighbor to house-sit. Professional burglars often scan local papers for these types of events in an effort to target vacant homes.

Make it a habit to be sure all of your doors are locked, particularly hidden entrances like those from your garage into your home. An attached garage provides a made-to-order hiding place. Deadbolt locks installed by a professional locksmith are the best type of locks because they can't easily be opened without a key or a jimmy.

A home with deadbolt locks is more likely to cause a would-be burglar to move on to an easier target. And don't leave spare keys hidden near the door. If you can get to them, so can a burglar.

If you have a telephone answering machine, it's good policy to leave a message that says you "can't come to the phone," rather than one that tells a caller you're "not home."

Finally, if you are going to be away from your home for several days, stop all expected deliveries such as the newspaper and your mail. Be sure to ask a neighbor to regularly check your home and to take care of your lawn. Let your neighbors know how long you plan to be away and that you are not expecting any deliveries, or to have any repair work done while you're away.

Many a thief has made off with a household of furniture and other valuables under full view of the neighborhood by posing as a mover or delivery man.

Unfortunately, even the most secure home cannot be completely burglar proof. Mark your larger possessions such as televisions and stereos with your drivers' license number through your local police department's property protection program. Smaller valuables, such as jewelry, should be placed in a safe deposit box, while other less valuable items should be stored in inconvenient locations, to make the burglar waste time looking for your valuables.

If your area does not currently have a neighborhood watch program, consider contacting your local police department to find out how you and your neighbors can start one. Finally, encourage everyone in your home and your neighbors to report sightings of suspicious vehicles or door-to-door vendors, as burglars often use these means to "case" an area for likely "hits."

Your home is one of your most valuable assets. By following these tips, you can help safeguard your home against an easy burglary. Don't let your home become a crime statistic.