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Tips on How to Be Safe When You're at Home

In general, burglars will avoid occupied houses. However, there always exceptions to the rule, and you shouldn't assume that nothing can ever happen when you're at home. If someone breaks in while you're not there, your belongings are at risk. If someone breaks in when your family is home, your family is at risk as well. There are a number of measures you can follow in order to minimize the risk of being targeted.

Keys: Don't hand out keys to friends, even if they are trustworthy. Know the location of all your house keys all the time. Never use hide-a-keys or leave the key under the doormat, above the door, in a flowerpot, or anywhere outside the house. You may think you're being clever, but experienced thieves know all the tricks. Also, keep your car keys and house keys on a different ring if you ever use valet parking or leave your keys with parking lot attendants or even at a repair garage.

Don't let strangers in the house: Think this only applies for children? Think again. Home security means being cautious. Even before you open the front door to accept a package, you should ask for photo identification. This goes for anyone you don't recognize. Don't assume someone is legitimate just because they're wearing a uniform or driving a company truck--these things can be stolen. If somebody comes to your door and asks to make a phone call, offer to make it for them, but don't let them in. If they are injured, call 911, but don't open the door. If you walk away to make a call or some such, lock the door behind you; you don't want to leave the door unlocked and unmanned. A chain on the door helps insure someone can't force their way in while you're there.

Locks: Keep your doors and windows locked, even if you're at home. Get your children into this habit, too.

Don't be predictable: If you always leave at the same time every day, are gone for the same length of time, and return at the same time, thieves can easily memorize your routine, taking advantage of the times your not at home. Work is work, and you probably can't change those hours, but if you go to a class or the grocery store at the same time all the time, try to make yourself less predictable.

Valuables shouldn't be on display: It's not a good idea if somebody can look in your window and see your wallet, credit cards, purse, jewelry, or fancy electronics in open sight. A computer or television placed in front of a ground-floor window may make an easy target. Likewise, electronics placed across from a window are easily visible, too. Also, don't leave your garage doors open for the world to see your belongings. Lightweight items could be snatched away quickly and easily.

Watch your trash: Just bought a new entertainment system? A bunch of empty boxes out by the curb triggers an alarm to would-be thieves. Instead of putting boxes out in plain sight, cut them down, and stuff them in trash bags. Also be wary of

identity theft. Never put personal identification information in your trash unshredded.

Be alert: Try to be aware of your surroundings on a day-to-day basis, even in your own familiar neighborhood. This doesn't mean walking around like a crazy paranoid person; just keep your eyes out for suspicious activity.

Paying attention to the simple things can make you and your family much less of a target. Burglar alarms and home security systems are great investments, but prevention is the best way to stay safe.

Sourced from: Home Security Your Guide to Protecting Your Family