Give Potential Burglars the Boot: Household Security Tips for Texans

Most burglars break into homes that offer the best chances of carrying out a crime undetected. Yet home owners can unwittingly encourage thieves to rob them by making everyday decisions that make their homes stand out as prime targets. Want to prevent home burglary? Take away the incentives. Thoroughly protect your household and give potential burglars the boot by following these home security tips! CRIME-PROOFING YOUR HOME 1. Have locks changed or re-keyed when moving into a new home. 2. Lock all doors and windows, close the curtains, and turn on the alarm even when leaving for a very short time. A thief can be in and out of your home in two minutes. 3. Install solid-core or metal exterior doors with peepholes. If you prefer to install a metal strike plate on a wood door, strike plates with two short screws provide no added security. Install one with 9 screws and use 4-inch long screws. 4. Install track-type locks, drop bars, wooden dowels, or pinning devices on sliding glass doors. 5. Burglars often break a window near a door, then reach in to unlock it. Install key-lock deadbolt door locks on these exterior doors. Also, deadbolt any interior door between the garage and house. Remember: these do no good unless you USE them! 6. Install lights by all exterior doors and make the bulbs hard to reach. Use motion sensors and photocells on exterior floodlights. Keep ALL exterior lights turned on at night. 7. Keep any gates around the outside of your house closed and locked. Most burglars prefer the invisibility of a back door for breaking in. 8. Leaving an electronic garage door opener in your car is like leaving a burglar the keys to your home, and once they are inside, your car! Keep it in your briefcase or purse or attached to your keys. If the garage door opener technology is built into the car, lock the car inside the garage when you are away. 9. Scan your house from outside at night. Can you see inside your home? Thieves use open windows to scan for desirable items and to see if anyone is at home. Install effective window coverings, and close them day and night when you’re not at home. 10. Upgrade to the latest security advances. Alarm systems and video systems are becoming very affordable. 11. Don’t install your alarm system box within eyesight of windows or doors, where thieves can see if they are armed. Also, don’t position an entry or hall mirror where it can reflect the box to a leering thief. 12. Have an alarm company sign outside your home? It may not be protecting you. A sign that identifies the alarm company gives burglars the information they need to figure out in advance how to disable the alarm. Buy a generic sign from a home-supply store. 13. Don’t depend on an alarm alone to protect your home. When your alarm is set to “away”, it can take 30 seconds to sound. It can take security personnel another 60 seconds to call the police, and another 3-6 minutes for the police to arrive. Professional burglars are in/out of homes in an average of 90 seconds. 14. Consider adding a sign to your front door like “No Soliciting”, “No Handbills”, “Do Not Ring Door Bell: Day Sleeper.” A favorite among many Texans is “We’re gun owners. We don’t dial 911.” 15. Don’t hide spare house keys outside the home. Find a trusted neighbor. Never give keys to people making improvements to your home. 16. Trim hedges and shrubs around doors and windows so burglars don’t have a sheltered place to work. Also, low fences offer less protection to burglars. If you want to build a high fence, consider see-through wrought-iron or chain-link. 17. Store ladders in the garage or padlock them to fixed objects so burglars can’t use them to reach upper floor windows. 18. Put away garden tools and implements, like shovels. Left outside, they are freely accessible and untraceable tools for forced entry. 19. A big dog like a Rottweiler might look scary, but burglars know most are untrained. What you want are “yappers”, dogs big and small that make a lot of noise. 20. Don’t leave boxes from new TVs, expensive appliances, or computers on the curb. Not only are you telling thieves what’s waiting for them inside your home, you’re leaving them something to transport them in. Break down boxes and conceal them in the recycling bin. 21. Most thieves head straight for the master bedroom and search the usual places: mattress, chest of drawers, closet. Keep valuables where burglars won’t think to look, and don’t hide all your valuables in one place. 22. Portable safes might fireproof your valuables, but don’t assume they deter thieves. They can be carried out the door and opened elsewhere. Invest in a wall safe, or consider using a safe deposit box. 23. Never let strangers enter your home no matter how safe they seem. The best burglars can be the nicest people and tell the most believable lies. If it’s a salesperson, ask to see door-to-door vendors’ permits or licenses before you decide to invite them in. 24. Call police if you see anything out of the ordinary. If you are not sure if you should call the police, call anyway. You never know if the call you make could be the one that prevents the next burglary from occurring. 25. Illuminate house numbers for quick emergency services response. 26. Going on vacation? Don’t advertise your absence. Thieves watch for fliers, newspapers, and parcels left on doorsteps. Keep the grass trimmed. Ask the next door neighbor to park in front of your home. Don’t leave a message that you are away on your home answering machine, or on a Facebook post. Criminals are cyber-savvy, too. 27. A light that stays on all the time is no more of a deterrent than a dark house. In fact, it helps burglars see better once they’re inside. Use timers that switch lamps or radios on and off while you are away. 28. Even better, arrange for a trustworthy house-sitter, who can open and close curtains and blinds, ensuring no visible signs of absence are evident from the outside. 29. Carelessly using popular geo-tracking apps, like Facebook tags, FindMyFriends, FourSquare, and Glympse, also tells would-be criminals when you’re not home. 30. Selling a high-ticket item on Craigslist or Ebay? Prevent “robbery by appointment”: arrange to meet potential buyers at a public place, not at your doorstep. 31. Don’t leave the garage door open while you are at work in the house, at home gardening, or mowing the back lawn. You are inviting petty thieves to slip away with garage items while your attention is elsewhere. Don’t come home to an open front door, a ransacked house, and missing valuables! Keep burglars at bay by using these tips to protect your home. Yet, eve the best of us leave the backdoor open from time to time. It wouldn’t hurt to take a photographic home inventory and keep your homeowner’s insurance up-to-date, just in case!