If you were locked out of your house, would you still be able to
get in? Maybe you keep an unlocked window in the back, or a hidden
key in your mailbox or on top of a window ledge?
You may think this is a good idea, but guess what? If you can
break in, so can a burglar!
One out of ten homes will be burglarized this year. For a small
amount of time and money you can make your home more secure and
reduce your chances of being a victim.
Many burglars will spend no longer than 60 seconds trying to break
into a home. Good locks - and good neighbors who watch out for each
other - can be big deterrents to burglars.
Check the locks
Did you know that in almost half of all completed residential burglaries,
thieves simply breezed in through unlocked doors or crawled through
- Make sure every external door has a sturdy, well-installed
dead bolt lock. Key-in-the-knob locks alone are not enough.
- Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly
secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available
locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to
jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track,
drill a hole through the slide door frame and the fixed frame.
Then insert a pin in the hole.
- Lock double-hung windows with key locks or "pin" your
windows by drilling a small hole into a 45 degree angle between
the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed.
Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
- Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give
an extra key to a neighbor you trust.
- When you move into a new house or apartment, re-key the locks.
Check the doors
A lock on a flimsy door is about as effective as locking your car
door but leaving the window down.
- All outside doors should be metal or solid wood.
- If your doors don't fit tightly in their frames, install weather
stripping around them.
- Install a peephole or wide angle viewer in all entry doors so
you can see who is outside without opening the door. Door chains
break easily and don't keep out intruders.
Check the outside
Look at your house from the outside. Make sure you know the following
- Thieves hate bright lights. Install outside lights and keep
them on at night.
- Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide
doors or windows. Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to
climb to an upper-level window.
- If you travel, create the illusion that you're at home by getting
some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas
of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours
a day signal an empty house.
- Leave shades, blinds, and curtains in normal positions. And
don't let your mail pile up! Call the post office to stop delivery
or have a neighbor pick it up.
- Make a list of your valuables - VCRs, stereos, computers, jewelry.
Take photos of the items, list their serial numbers and description.
Check with law enforcement about engraving your valuables through
- Ask local law enforcement for a free home security survey.
Consider an Alarm
Alarms can be a good investment, especially if you have many valuables
in your home, or live in an isolated area or one with a history
- Check with several companies before you buy so you can decide
what level of security fits your needs. Do business with an established
company and check references before signing a contract.
- Learn how to use your system properly! Don't "cry wolf"
by setting off false alarms. People will stop paying attention
and you'll probably be fined.
- Some less expensive options... a sound-detecting socket that plugs
into a light fixture and makes the light flash when it detects certain
noises, motion sensing outdoor lights that turn on when someone approaches,
or lights with photo cells that turn on when it's dark and off when
Burglars Do More Than Steal
Burglars can commit rape, robbery, and assault if they are surprised
by someone coming home or pick a home that is occupied.
- If something looks questionable - a slit screen, a broken window
or an open door - don't go in. Call the police from a neighbor's
house or a public phone.
- At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely
if you can, then call the police. If you can't leave, lock yourself
in a room with a phone and call the police. If an intruder is
in your room, pretend you are asleep.
- Gun are responsible for many accidental deaths in the home every
year. If you choose to own a gun, learn how to store it and use
There's More You Can Do
- Join a Neighborhood Watch group. If one doesn't exist, you can
start one with help from local law enforcement.
- Never leave a message on your answering machine that indicates
you may be away from home now, say "I'm not available right
- Work with neighbors and local government to organize community
clean-ups. The cleaner your neighborhood, the less attractive
it is to crime.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council
Join Our Team
Locate Your Local Office