1. Take a walk around your home and think like a burglar. As you walk, ask yourself "Where is the easiest access point to my home?”
2. Inspect entry doors and door frames. External doors should be hinged from the inside, not the outside where burglars can simply unscrew the hinge. If you have sliding doors, place a bar or wooden dowel in the inside track to supplement the door lock.
3. Check doors (including the garage door) and windows for security and replace worn or inoperable locks. If the window is bare, install a blind or curtain over the inside so the contents cannot be viewed from outside.
4. If the basement windows are the most likely place where a thief might gain entry, install a lock on the door that leads from the basement into your living area. Better yet, install a metal or metal clad door.
5. Never leave windows open at night unless they are open just a few inches (too little space for someone to crawl in) and secured with a pin lock.
6. When putting out your trash, break down or cut up boxes that indicate you have purchased an expensive or desirable item. Such items include electronic equipment. An empty box in the trash may tell a potential burglar what might be in your house.
7. Keep the garage door closed except when leaving or entering. Open garage doors are the number one entry point for daytime burglaries.
8. Always keep the door between the garage and the house locked, whether you are home or away.
9. Turn on outside lights after dark.
10. Make sure house numbers are easily viewed.
11. Don’t display your name on the exterior of your house.
12. Store ladders and tools inside a locked garage, shed or basement, not outside where they can be used to break in.
13. Keep your address and phone number posted near every phone in your house. Emergency situations can be very stressful, and some callers may momentarily forget this vital information or give incorrect information. By posting your location and call-back number, visitors at your home will also be able to dial 911 and get help quickly.
14. If you have an alarm system, be sure your contact numbers are up to date, and that the alarm company knows who to call when you are out of town.
15. Screen all phone calls with an answering machine, voice mail system or "Caller ID”. An answering machine is inexpensive and allows you to hear who is leaving a message. If it is someone you know you can always pick up the phone before they hang up.
16. Inventory and mark your personal property. Do NOT mark your property with your Social Security Number. Ask your insurance agent if he has a booklet or form you can use to record your valuables. If you have a video camera, tape each room while providing a running commentary about the items you are recording. Deposit the tape in your lock box at the bank, or in a fire-proof safe in your home.
17. When you retire for the night, keep by your bedside a flashlight, your glasses, a cell phone and your house keys. The cell phone will enable you to call for help if the regular phone line has been cut. The keys can be tossed to police in the event you are trapped in an upstairs room. And the glasses and flashlight will enable you to move around in the darkness safely.
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