FIGHT BACK : KEEP BURGLARS OUT BY MAKING IT SEEM LIKE YOU'RE IN.
We are getting into vacation season, which means leaving your home alone, creating an open invitation for burglars to make an unexpected and unwanted visit. Getting an expensive home security system isn't the only way to protect your belongings. There are some simple steps you should take whether or not you have a security alarm.
Never leave your house looking dark and uninhabited. Light timers are inexpensive and make it look like someone is at home. Put them in different rooms, set to go on and off at different times during the evening hours. It's just as important to light the outside of your house as well. The outside lights should also be set on timers, or you can get energy-saving motion detectors that will turn on lights whenever there is movement in your yard or driveway. Just leaving lights on all the time is almost as dangerous as no lights at all. Burglars aren't stupid. Lights burning day and night can be just as clear an indication of an empty house.
Part of the secret of protecting your home is making it look and sound like someone is there. Leave a radio on in a bedroom or family room, turned to an all-talk station. From the outside, it will sound like people talking inside the house. If a burglar thinks that someone might be home, it's likely that the thief will look for another target. Lock your outside electric panel. That way, prowlers will have to contend with any lights you have set up.
Make the place look lived-in. Ask a neighbor to pick up newspapers and any advertising fliers while you are away. (Be sure to offer to return the favor.) That pile of papers by the front door is like putting a ``vacant'' sign in your front lawn. Speaking of lawns, keep that grass mowed while you are gone. Cut back any overgrown bushes that could hide doors or windows.
What you don't want is your home looking deserted. That also means putting away any items that might attract a thief, such as toys, tools, bikes or any equipment. Put them in the garage, and put a lock on it. Don't make it easy for the crooks. Trim any tree branches that might offer a boost into second-story windows.
Check all windows to make sure they are secure and locked. If they don't have a lock, check with a hardware store or locksmith to fix them. Check the latches on all casement windows to make sure they work properly. The crank handle should feel tight and shouldn't wiggle or be loose. Check other openings as well, such as pet doors, crawl space or ventilation openings. Make sure they are locked or blocked so no one can use them to get inside. Louvered windows, which open like awnings, are easy to remove. Consider replacing them altogether.
Check your doors as well. Hollow-wood doors are easy to kick in. Doors with glass window panes are also more vulnerable. Sliding glass doors can be blocked shut with a metal or wood pole in the door slide. Put an ``anti-shim'' plate on your doors to prevent a plastic card from opening the latch. Make sure your door has a deadbolt lock, with a heavy-duty strike plate to hold the bolt in place.
The best advice that police offer is to get a dog. Nothing frightens a burglar more. If you don't want to do that, put a large dog bowl by the front door. It may be enough to make a burglar think twice.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jun 28, 1997|
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