Get Prepared

Want to do everything you can to keep intruders out of your home? Here’s a top-line list of what you can do.

For more help and advice, read our Tips for Preventing Home Theft article.

Be Home-Security Smart

  1. Make sure everyone in your home understands the security precautions you have in place.
  2. Lock your doors. While you are in the backyard playing with the kids, someone could be entering via your unlocked front door.
  3. If you have an alarm system, use it. Even a quick trip to the grocery store could leave your home unprotected.
  4. Don’t let strangers in your home. If you arranged a service call, make sure they show proper identification.
  5. Don’t automatically trust door-to-door canvassers. Ask to see their solicitor’s permit as well as an office number you can call to verify their legitimacy.

Increase Your Home’s Security

WHN TIP – Police Check: Ask your local police department if they will conduct a free home security check.

Doors and windows

  1. Check the door frames, hinges and exterior doors to make sure they are strong enough to prevent forcing or spreading.
  2. Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and doors from attached garages.
  3. Secure sliding glass doors with pin-type locks or key locks plus a metal rod or piece of plywood in the track. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, insert a pin or screw through a hole drilled through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. This will allow the door to slide, but not be lifted out of its track.
  4. Check doggy doors or mail slots to ensure they can’t be used to gain entry.
  5. Always lock the door to an attached garage.
  6. If your garage has a window, “frost” it on the inside to prevent the intruder from determining if there is a car inside.
  7. Make sure windows have adequate locks in good condition.

WHN TIP — Secure Yet Safe: Don’t go overboard when securing your home. You want to keep intruders out, but you and other family members must also be able to escape in case of a fire or other emergency.

Keys and Alarms

  • Don’t hide keys outside but give to a neighbor or friend.
  • Don’t keep your house keys with your car keys.
  • Consider buying a home security system. Read our article Buying a Home Security System for tips.

WHN TIP – Three Minutes: Thieves usually try to keep their time in a house to less than three minutes.

WHN TIP – Code It: Consider giving a specific numeric code and password information to the person who has your spare set of keys.

Outdoor Precautions

  • Keep ladders and tools inside locked sheds or locked tool cabinets in garages so they aren’t used to gain access to your home.
  • Keep shrubbery trimmed away from entrances and walkways to they don’t provide cover for thieves.

WHN TIP – Why July? Generally, July has the greatest number of recorded burglaries; February, the least. Crime tends to increase and decrease with the temperature, in part because people leave windows and doors open in summer.

  • Install motion detector lights to discourage intruders and highlight your home and have outside lights to illuminate the front and back of your property as well as by side doors.

Protect Your Possessions

  • Have enough insurance coverage, especially for special items like expensive jewelry or rare antiques. Update the policy whenever you have added new items.
  • Consider buying a home safe.
  • Engrave an identifying number or name on valuables with an engraving pen.

WHN TIP – That’s Special: Be sure to check on your “special occasion” jewelry at least once a month or as needed. Otherwise, it may be awhile before you notice it’s missing.

WHN TIP — Sync and Lock: Sync your PDA/cell phone often. Why? If it’s stolen, you’re only as good as your last backup. Then, lock your mobile device so no one else can get your passwords, private numbers, or other important info.

Prepare A Home Inventory

  • Create a household inventory – read our 4 Things to Know About Creating a Home Inventory List for a how-to.
  • Update your inventory every year or so and every time a major purchase is made or significant renovations are undertaken in your home or on your property.
  • Prepare a Master Information Box which contains copies of important documents and records, photos and contact information.

Start A Neighborhood Watch

  • Take some time to get to know the neighbors in your area. Notice what type of vehicles they drive and pay attention to their routines.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious, call the police. The police would much rather check out a suspicious activity than to let it go by unreported.
  • Start a neighborhood watch group.

Going on vacation? Read Keeping Your Home Safe While You Travel.

Thank You …

A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.