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Protecting Your Home From Break-Ins

Help protect your home from break-ins with these home security tips for alarms, lights, and locks.
By Joseph Saling
WebMD Feature

One of the easiest crimes to prevent -- burglary -- is also one of the most common. Somewhere in the U.S. there's a burglary committed every 15 seconds. If it happens at your home, you lose more than a few possessions. A break-in, even when you're not there, has a major impact on your and your family's sense of safety and well-being.

But burglaries don't have to happen. There are a lot of things you can do to boost home security and make your house burglary-resistant. Here are tips you can use to help you keep your family safe and your home and its contents intact.

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Anti-Burglary Tip No. 1: Don't Advertise You're Away

The first thing a burglar looks for when choosing a house for a break-in is one with no one in it. If you make your house look occupied when you're gone, most burglars will simply pass it by. Here are some ways to do that.

  • Use automatic light timers throughout the house and have them turn on and off in a way that simulates your normal patterns. Look for light timers that have battery backup so the timer doesn't stop if there is a power failure. Using timers that have more than one on-off cycle can create the illusion of movement from room to room.
  • The same kind of timers you use on lights can also be used to turn radios or TVs on and off.
  • Consider using timed automatic drape and curtain openers. Drapes that are always closed or always open suggest no one is home.
  • Turn the volume of your phone's ringer down so someone outside can't hear them ring.
  • If you can, have your calls forwarded while you're away. Burglars sometimes call to see if anyone's home before a break-in.
  • Arrange to have your lawn cut or snow removed from your walks if you're going to be gone for a long period.
  • Instead of stopping your mail and newspaper delivery, ask a neighbor to pick them up and hold them for you. Seeing deliveries being made makes a burglar think someone is at home.
  • Ask a neighbor to use your trash can from time to time and to put it out at the curb and bring it back on trash day.
  • Always park your car in the garage with the garage door closed when you are there. That way someone watching for patterns won't know your car isn't there when you're gone.
  • In the interest of home security, never leave notes on the door. They just say to a burglar, "Come on in."
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