How to Discourage Burglars

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Burglars look for an easy target. Here's how to make your place less likely to be chosen.

  • Install deadbolt locks on exterior doors.

  • Keep shrubbery trimmed low so the burglar won't be hidden while jimmying a window.

  • Keep the gate(s) locked if you have a privacy fence. That way, someone can't enter through the gate and then work unseen to break in a back door or window.

  • Drill the sliding-glass door so you can run a pin from the door's edging into its frame to prevent entry. Otherwise, many of these door units can simply be removed from their openings - despite a broom handle inserted in the door track.

  • Lock the door leading from your home to an attached garage even if you have an electronic garage-door opener. Burglars have devices that can steal your electronic code, so the locked door could create the only barrier if illegal entry is gained through the garage.

  • Keep your windows closed and locked (pins from the window's casing into the frame are best) when you aren't home.

  • Don't hide a key outside. Burglars know where to look.

  • Put burglar bars on windows. Be sure they are the type with push-button openings from indoors so that you can escape easily in case of fire.

  • Play a radio when you're out of the house.

  • Do not leave a note on the door saying that you're gone and when you'll return. Don't put your name on the mailbox, welcome sign or anywhere else outside your house. Armed with your last name and address, crooks can look up your phone number, call the house to see whether anyone answers or listen to a too-revealing message on the machine. (Don't leave an message on your machine saying you'll be gone!)

  • Install a monitored burglar alarm and post a sign that says so. Or at least have a sign indicating that you have an alarm even if you don't.

  • Get a dog. Or put a "Beware of Dog" sign on gates leading to the back yard even if you don't have a dog.

  • Light the exterior of your home at night. Sensor lighting turns on automatically when it detects a person (or animal) within its field.

  • Put a sign on the door that says "Please don't ring bell. Day sleeper inside." This gives the impression that the home is occupied during the day, when most residential burglaries occur.

  • Take special measures during vacation. Don't let mail and newspapers pile up, do put lights and a radio on irregular timers, and do ask a neighbor to put some trash in your cans and park a car out front occasionally.

  • Tell all trusted neighbors what your typical work hours are and when you'll be traveling. Also let them know whether anyone has access to the house while you're out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Local police and crime-watch groups may have other tips that will help you.

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