Published on Thu, Sep 26, 2002
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Secure home takes planning

By Heath Bickford

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, one burglary will be committed in the United States, according to crime reports compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). One out of six homes will be burglarized this year with an average loss of $1,280.

Research tells us that most burglars will work no longer then 60 seconds to get into a home. The statistics can be frightening, but there are many easy improvements homeowners can make to help prevent break-ins.

The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or school. The easiest precaution you can take is to purchase quality locks for all your entryway doors, and use them. In almost half of all residential burglaries, thieves enter through unlocked doors, open garages or unlocked windows.

Your entry doors should be constructed of solid one-and-one-half-inch-thick hardwood, or metal-clad, for maximum strength and resistance to damage. For added security, install a peephole or wide-angle viewer, and make sure your doors have strong hinges with non-removable or hidden pins.

Working in conjunction with keyed knobs or levers, deadbolts can withstand the twisting, prying and pounding that ordinary door locks can’t. Lowe’s recommends that homeowners install deadbolts on every entryway door, including the door linking your house and garage, as well as doors opening onto second-floor patios or decks. Always use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors to withstand lock picking.

Don’t forget that sliding glass doors can be an easy point of entry. To improve security on existing sliding doors, install keyed locking devices that secure the doors to the frame or track. Adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can’t be pushed out of their tracks, and place a strong metal or wooden bar along the track to prevent the doors from being opened.

Consider replacing older doors with more energy-efficient, secure models.
According to many crime prevention officers, about nine out of ten burglars will choose not to enter a building that is well lit. Lighting is one of the best, and most cost-effective, deterrents to burglary. Lowe’s recommends that homeowners install lighting that illuminates darker areas such as backyards and windows, porches, garage doors, shrubbery, walkways and entrances—and don’t forget to install timers or photocells as well. Floodlights are recommended for superior illumination.

For added safety, trim shrubs, trees or bushes that might conceal criminal activity near entrances. Also, light areas of dense shrubbery and other dark corners where thieves could hide. Make sure you place some lights out of reach so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken, and aim floodlights away from the house so you can see if anybody is approaching.

In the event that a thief breaks into your home, be prepared to report stolen items to law enforcement and insurance companies. Take time to identify valuables by creating a household inventory, then photograph items and record their serial numbers. You can also videotape the information as you describe the items. Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other important financial and legal documents. For added peace of mind, store a copy of this information with a relative or friend.

It’s also essential to get to know your neighbors so they will keep an eye on your house and you on theirs. During the summer travel season, be sure to ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers every day while you are on vacation, or have them held for your return. Ask a neighbor to use your garbage cans to create the impression that your home is occupied, and make plans to keep your lawn maintained. Remember, the neighborhood that looks cared for, and where people know and are concerned for each other, is less prone to crime. . .

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