More than 2.1 million burglaries were reported in the United States in 2012. That’s one every 15 seconds, according to the FBI, which proves how easy it is for burglars to break into your home. But before you make a major purchase for a security system, take a good look around. A few simple, inexpensive or free measures will greatly deter a potential thief from attacking your home.
“The goal of home security is to deter the casual burglar,” says Chris McGoey, an independent security consultant in the Los Angeles area. “It’s impossible to make your home perfectly secure, but there are low-tech measures that will do 90 percent of the job.”
Pick an upcoming weekend and review these steps – ranging from low-tech, no-cost chores to more involved, expensive projects – to improve your home’s security.
1. Hold a household meeting
Make home security a habit, by having all family members – including children – agree on a routine that includes rules as simple as these:
Use door and window locks. It costs nothing and requires little energy. Get into the habit of locking every door and window on your way out, on your way in and before you go to bed.
Do not open the door to uninvited or unwelcome visitors.
Close and lock the garage door.
Secure your home even if you are doing work in the house or yard.
Use your alarm system at all times, even when you’re running to the store or visiting your neighbors. (Learn about the important clauses in the alarm contract).
2. Call on the police
Many municipal police departments offer free home inspections. An officer will walk through your home and recommend simple, cost-effective changes to increase security.
3. Organize a burglary
This is a fun and useful exercise to do with a trusted neighbor or friend: Allow your neighbor to walk through your home for three minutes, find as many small valuables as possible, and take them out. Let the ersatz burglar demonstrate how easy it is to find valuables. Then hide them from the real burglars. For example, you can buy a small safe that bolts to the floor, rent a safe outside the house, or hide jewelry and cash in unorthodox places. You can return the favor to your neighbor.
Be smart with your keys
4. Remove the ‘hidden’ house key
The key under the mat, in the mailbox, under a rock – everyone hides a house key. The problem is that burglars know your hiding places. Give it to a trusted neighbor instead.
5. Place keys and garage-door remotes in a smart spot
Don’t leave car keys and remotes near the door or visible inside your home. Place them in a cabinet or drawer to keep them hidden.
6. Add foreboding signs
Place security company signs or stickers near all entrances, whether you have a security system or not. You may have signs or stickers on hand from a previous contract with a security company, or you may be able to get them from a friend. Also, place a few “Beware of Dog” signs in visible locations, such as the front of the house or a door to the garden.
7. Lock up the ladder
Do not store a ladder outside. A burglar, posing as a handyman or contractor, could use it to gain access to a second-story window or balcony.
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