Burglary Prevention

Homes and apartments in the U.S. are struck by burglars on the average of once every 15 seconds. If the burglar picks your place instead of the one next door, you probably helped invite him there.

Despite all the publicity about complex burglary prevention systems, the rules for protecting your home are quite simple and basic. The best precautionary measures you can take involve old-fashioned common sense and good, modern locks. This brochure has examples of both common sense and good locks.

An inadequate lock is usually because the owner is not familiar with lockset security features. Consult a locksmith if you have weak locks or go to a hardware store and look for the locks that are suggested in this brochure.

An inexpensive precautionary measure most homeowners can take is to check and replace the screws in the strike place of a lock if they need it. The strike plate should have extra long screws which pass through the casing and into the 2 x 4's which hold the door frame.

Use the check list to improve home security and take part in Operation Identification. While you can't make your home absolutely burglar-proof, you can make entry so difficult that a burglar will go elsewhere to find an easier victim.

  1. Deadlocking slidebolts on all springlatch locks?
  2. Can you lock your outside doors, all your windows and your garage door?
  3. Double cylinder locks on doors with glass or replace glass with unbreakable acrylic?
  4. Anti-slide protection on the sliding glass doors?
  5. Security pins on window locks on double hung windows?
  6. Exterior lighting on entrances to the home, motion-sensor lights in backyard?
  7. Wide angle viewer on the solid doors?
  8. Leave a light on and the radio playing when you are out at night?
  9. Is your house number clearly visible at night from the street?
  10. Photos or video taken of the items of value such as jewelry, furs, antiques, collectibles and other hard to describe things?
  11. Do you know if a neighbor will call the police or fire if there is something wrong with your home?
  12. Take part in Operation Identification and mark items with your driver's license number?

Home Security Do's and Don't

Double-Hung windows can be made more secure by drilling a hole through the first window frame and into the second, then inserting a nail or bolt into the hole. By drilling the holes at different heights, you can also lock a window left partly open for ventilation. Window locks are another option and are available at your local hardware or do-it-yourself center.

Burglars love to break into houses where it's obvious the occupants are away on vacation. When you're going away, put an automatic timer on one or more lamps, a radio or TV Using timers to turn these on while you're gone will help give the impression that someone is still at home.

A cylinder lock with a 1-inch long deadbolt provides good home security. Unlike the common key-in-knob door lock, this one is hard to break or pry open.

Also, make sure the strike plate is secured with wood screws that are at least 2" in length.

To guard against prying the lock, latch guards can be installed covering the lock's latch or deadbolt.

Leave your patio or porch lights on when you go out for the evening. Leaving lights on inside your home is a good idea too. Motion lights mounted to a garage or above a patio door add extra security through lighting.

Trim shrubs away from doors and windows so they won't hide someone trying to break in. Plant prickly bushes near basement windows.

Make sure the locks on all your windows are in good working order-and that includes your basement windows.

Always lock your garage-it's one of the burglar's favorite targets.If you have a garage that is attached to your house, be sure to lock the connecting door between the house and garage with a very secure lock such as a dead bolt. It is a very easy for someone to enter your house through a connecting door. If you do remember to lock the connecting door, do you remember to take the keys out of your parked car? It doesn't pay to lock the door and then leave the key to it in plain site!

Check to make sure that your house number can be seen from the street, so emergency help can find you fast when you need it.

Have a neighbor watch your house while you are away on vacation. Having someone cut your grass or shovel the sidewalk in winter helps to preserve that "lived-in look" while you're away.

Don't hide spare keys outside your home where "no one would ever look" A burglar knows where to look for spare keys and finding one makes his job a lot easier.

You should think twice before putting an ID tag with your address on your key ring. If you lose your keys and the wrong person finds them, it's an open invitation to a burglary.

Most important of all: keep your doors and windows locked as much as possible. Keep all doors and windows locked whenever possible, including during the day when someone is at home and if you're leaving your home for only a few minutes. All exterior doors should be secured with a dead bolt lock with a 1-inch throw and 2-inch screws in the strike plate. The "throw" refers to how far the bolt sticks out of the door when you have the door open and the bolt in "lock" position. The reason that the throw should be at least 1-inch long is so that the bolt goes past the thin trim board. This makes the trim board less likely to splinter if someone tries to kick the door in. Two-inch screws should also be used to fasten door hinges to the door jamb. Even the best lock is worthless if it isn't being used.

Don't depend on a chain lock to keep intruders out of your home; they're too easy to break.

Don't let strangers in your house for any reason. If a repairman seems suspicious, ask him for identification first.

Don't leave notes on the door that indicate you are gone and won't be back until a certain time.

Don't keep large amounts of money, valuable coins or jewelry around the house. Use a bank safety deposit box instead.

Don't give information to strangers over the phone regarding vacation plans, hours of work, etc.

Don't let newspapers or mail pile up while you're away as a sign no one is home. Instead, stop these deliveries or have a neighbor pick these up for you until you return.

Most sliding patio doors have simple locks that are easy to pry open. Putting a broomstick or a 2 x 4 in the sliding door track will help keep the door closed, even if someone has forced open the lock. Or , install locks especially made for patio doors.

There are several types of surface-mounted door locks that you can use to add more security to your home or garage. Most are easy to install, and those with sliding deadbolts are especially hard to pry open.

Many burglaries happen because a burglar can break a window, reach in and unlock your door from the inside. To avoid this, you can install a double-cylinder deadbolt lock that requires a key on the outside and the inside. But remember, this lock could block your escape in an emergency so this type should only be used in a garage or business and never in a residence. Another option is to replace the glass in the door with an unbreakable acrylic or use security screen over the glass on the inside of the door.

A member of the Crime Prevention Unit will conduct a security survey of your home free of charge. To schedule your appointment call (608) 755-3077.

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