Burglar-Proof Your Home

Talking with police can help in learning methods most commonly used by burglars in your area. Pretend you are a burglar and examine your home for weak points. Then fortify them. For example, can a window mounted air conditioner be stolen easily or pushed in to gain entrance? Install it more securely. Consider what you own that may attract burglars and make those possessions less conspicuous.

Burglars often cruise in pairs. Upon seeing an empty garage or a car pulling out of a driveway, they ring the doorbell. If someone answers, they ask an innocent question and leave. If there is no response, they try to enter the house in the quickest way.

The most common means of access is an unlocked door. If doors are secured with simple locks, burglars can break the locks or use force until the screws burst out of the wood or the frame gives way. Or they can break a cellar window.

If you have any hollow wooden doors or flimsy door frames leading to the outside or to the garage, replace them with solid wooden or steel doors and firm frames. Install 180 degree peepholes and stout dead bolt locks in the outside doors and mount attractive grillwork over all of your lower windows. Trim shrubbery to eliminate hiding places. For added protection, install outdoor floodlights, a fence and gate, and electronic alarm systems.

Don't put your name on the mailbox. Burglars will phone to determine if you are home. If they get the answering machine, they know too much.

Encourage neighbors to keep an eye on your place when you are away and you can do the same for them alerting each other when strangers are observed.

Before leaving town, arrange to have your home look occupied. Ask a friend or relative to come by daily, but at different times, to park a car in the driveway, put lut the garbage on pickup days, take in the mail and newspapers, shovel the snow or mow the grass, and alter the draperies and automatic light-timers.

Avoid attracting attention. Some of it may prove unwelcome. If a new stereo or home computer arrives, don't upt the labeled carton in the trash without flattening it inside out. On the other hand, it is wise to etch your social security number on your valuables.

Don't keep cash around, travelers' checks are safer. If you hide valuables, keep a map of their locations in a safe deposit box or with an attorney. Burglars know where people generally keep valuables, and they will look in those places first. In picking places to hide valuables, remember that the kitchen is most often used and that toilet tanks are favorite spots. Leave some money and less-expensive valuables in the open and hope a burglar will overlook the gem collection in the bottom of the goldfish tank.

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