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How to Make Your Home Safe Against Theft

Home Safety - Coldwell Banker Rizzo Mattson, RealtorsTake these steps to prevent a break-in.

Keep Watch

Surveys show that burglars tend to avoid homes with alarm systems installed and barking dogs. These are some of the best ways to deter intruders.

o Install a security system - Hide wires from view. o Post signs announcing an alarm system is on the property. o Webcams - Well-hidden cameras, which can't be easily disabled, give you a glimpse of what's going on while you're home or away. o Dogs - The sound of a barking dog inside can startle intruders and alert others.

Avoid the Obvious

o Spare keys - Steer clear of common storage spots: under mats, flowerpots, or bushes, on window ledges, or in mailboxes. It's best to leave them with a nearby friend or neighbor you trust. o Valuables - Instead of in mattresses, drawers, under carpets, or behind pictures, store them in a safe deposit box or in a heavy, fireproof safe away from windows. o Glass - Replace glass with break-resistant glass; install kick-proof doors. o Rocks and bricks - Remove them from your yard so thieves can't smash windows with them. o Trees, shrubs, and bushes - Remove these potential hiding places near windows. o Dark entranceways - Install lights with motion detectors. o Your home phone - Lower the ring volume.

Secure and Double-Check

o Windows and doors - Make sure they're closed and locked. Seal screw heads on window locks so burglars can't remove them. The best door locks are deadbolts or electronic (keyed entry). Thieves can open spring-loaded locks with credit cards or unlock them with bump keys, master keys locksmiths use. o Alarm system - ensure it's turned on.

Stranger Dangers

o Don't let people inside whom you don't know. If you need to talk to them, go outside, so they can't see inside while a door is ajar. Burglars can pose as sales and delivery people and utility workers (cable, electricity, etc.). If you don't know someone, call the number in a directory or on your bill to verify who he or she is. o Domestic workers - Check references. Make sure someone is nearby while they work.

Look Busy

Make your home look occupied, especially when you'll be away for a while. Burglars have looked online for clues about upcoming trips and in newspapers for announcements (funerals, weddings) to determine when people will be gone.

o Place lights, TVs, and radios on a timer. o Ask people you trust to housesit. o Have someone collect your mail or ask the post office to hold it. o Ask your neighbors to fill your trashcans. o If you have a home phone, have your voicemail forwarded to a number where someone will answer.

Keep Things and Information Hidden

o Pull window shades; close blinds or curtains. o Don't disclose information about upcoming trips or vacation plans online. o Don't post notes on doors. o Don't list your full name on your mailbox or in phone directories. o Turn off location services at websites and in your cellphone.

Sources:

Editors of Consumer Guide. How Stuff Works. Home Security Tips.

Harrison, Denise. How Stuff Works. 10 Ways to Break into a House.

Security One

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