|Before you leave home, protect your
Julie Garton-Good, GRI
If you're like many Americans, the threat of having your home burglarized is
a mounting concern. If you can't afford an alarm system, what other precautions
can you take to protect your home?
Let's investigate some low-cost or no-cost steps you could take. Outside,
make sure that all lights are in working order and that shrubs and bushes are
cut away from view of the house. Patrolling police will need a clear line of
vision to doors and windows in order to make their surveillance effective.
When you're away for more than an hour at a time, put several lights on
timers as well as leave a radio on to give the appearance that someone is home.
Leave your drapes open, particularly on upper floors that don't provide a full
view of your home.
For extended trips, stop all expected deliveries, including the newspaper
and have your mail held. Let at least one neighbor know that you'll be gone and
that you'll not be expecting anyone to drop by. Many a thief has made off with
an entire household posing as a moving or delivery person.
If you have a telephone answering machine, change the message from "we're
not home" to "we can't come to the phone right now".
Double-check to make sure all doors and windows are securely locked,
particularly hidden entrances like those from your garage into your home.
Deadbolt locks are best and are most likely to cause a would-be burglar to move
on to an easier target. Don't be foolish and leave a spare key near any
door---if you can get it, so can a burglar.
Even the most secure home can't be completely protected. Move small
valuables, such as jewelry, to a safe deposit box before you leave. Mark larger
valuables with your driver's license number through the police department's
property protection program. Itemize a list of home furnishings and valuables
and place it in your safe deposit box. Or better yet, videotape your possessions
and place the video in the safe deposit box. This serves as documentation should
the property be stolen or destroyed.
Taking the time and the effort to help burglar-proof your home should not
only result in increased safety, but in peace of mind as well.