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The Home Security Checklist—How Does Yours Measure Up?

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The Home Security Checklist—How Does Yours Measure Up?

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If you live in an area with higher crime rates or an affluent neighborhood, your home may be a target for thieves. But those aren’t the only risk factors. Examine your home’s security today and ask yourself—does yours stand up to the test?

1. Do You Have Solid Exterior Doors?

Many home break-ins involve a burglar who kicked down the front or back door. Two factors make this possible: 1) weak door locks and/or hinges and 2) hollow core doors. All of the exterior doors to your home should be either solid wood or steel to prevent kick-ins intrusions.

2. Do You Have a Peephole?

Peepholes enable you to see who’s knocking on your door, without exposing yourself to potential threats. Whether you want to avoid strangers or your crazy ex, this is one home security feature you can’t go without. And if you have a wooden door, installation is a snap.

3. Are Door Locks Actually Secure?

Just because you always lock your doors with a deadbolt doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re secure. Yes, some thieves are skilled at picking locks. However, the majority of standard locks sold in hardware stores are prone to something called “lock bumping.” This means that anyone with a few bucks and a spare hour or two can get the tools and learn the skills needed to break into over 90 percent of standard locks. This makes it essential that you make sure all of your doors are outfitted with high-security, bump-proof locks.

4. Can Windows Be Opened From the Outside?

This one is fairly obvious, but many homes still don’t have proper locks on all their windows. Some have no locks at all, while others only have locks on the ground floor. But if it means easy access, a thief won’t hesitate to scramble onto your roof. Therefore, check your home for high-quality, secure windows that can’t be opened from the outside.

5. Can Someone Enter Through the Garage?

Just like your other doors, your garage door needs to have a sturdy, secure lock to prevent it from being opened from the outside. If you park any vehicles outside, make sure to never leave your garage door opener inside, as these can be easily copied. Also, be very careful about hiding keys to your garage or home on your property.

6. Are Shrubs/Bushes Kept Well Trimmed?

Overgrown, unkempt bushes signal to crooks that a house is not well cared for, and therefore an easy target. Even if that’s not the case, you’re going to get a lot more break-in attempts than otherwise. Additionally, overgrown shrubs provide places for intruders to hide from both you and your neighborhood watch program. Bottom line: Keep your landscaping tidy.

7. Are Your Lights on Timers?

When you’re out of town, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the house is empty—and therefore an easy target. The biggest giveaway is that your lights aren’t on. When a house is perpetually dark from sunset to sunrise, that’s not natural—unless, of course, you get 12+ hours of sleep every night. Fool thieves into thinking you’re home by installing timers that will flick lights on and off for you.

8. Do You Have Night Lights?

A well-lit property is less likely to be hit by crooks than one that slumbers in darkness. Of course, keeping that many lights on all night long can hurt your utility bill, so consider installing a motion-detector light. From the street your house may seem like a perfect target, but as soon as the intruder comes within range, the lights will blaze on, scaring them off.

9. Do You Have a Security System?

Shamefully obvious, I know. But do you have one? Having a professional security system installed and functional on your property is the best way to protect against intruders. If you have some home security gear from a previous owner, but isn’t in use, companies like ADT work well with existing home security devices. Professional security doesn’t have to be expensive to protect your home!

10. Is Your Home Insured?

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” A good home insurance policy is ultimately your best defense. They cover at least part of the damage from break-ins and loss of valuables in the event of theft, although the extent of coverage varies by provider and your particular policy.

Keep an inventory of your valuables, complete with photos. Better yet, inscribe valuable items like TVs, computers, and gaming consoles with identifying numbers for the police.