1. Start by considering the exterior features of your home. Pretend you're a burglar who's scoping out your neighborhood. Look for any exterior feature of your property that offers opportunities to an intruder. For example, a ladder left outdoors offers potential access to second-floor windows. It's a simple exercise, but one that can show you what you need to work on.
Intruders need cover. Make sure that the areas near your front and back doors, garage door and any other places where an intruder can get in are well lighted. The best place to put outside lights is under the eaves. You can purchase an inexpensive light timer or photoelectric cell to turn these lights on in the evening.
Look for overgrown bushes and trees around your front and back doors, garage door and windows that could hide an intruder trying to break in. Keep the shrubbery trimmed.
2. Be at home, even when you're not. Whether you're at home or away, you should take precautions to make you house looked lived in.
If you're gone on an extended trip…
3. Simple fixes for windows and doors. Spending a few dollars now could prevent a costly burglary.
Inspect Door Hinges. If you can see the hinges on any of your outside doors from the exterior, the door wasn't installed properly and you should take the following steps to secure it. Otherwise, an intruder will be able lift the door from the hinges simply by taking out the hinge pins.
a. On the top hinge of the door, take out the middle screw from each doorjamb leaf.
b. Insert a screw or a concrete nail into one of the holes so that it protrudes 1/2."
c. Drill out the opposite screw hole in the door.
d. Do the same thing to the hinge on the bottom. When the door is closed, the pins can still be removed but the door can't.
Enhance Garage Door Security. A single lock on one side of your garage door isn't enough to keep an intruder from pulling up the opposite side and crawling in. You can secure your garage door one of three ways:
a. Add an extra bolt and a minimum standard padlock on the opposite side.
b. Install a pair of cane bolts to the inside of the garage door, one at the top, the other at the bottom.
Secure Windows. You can make it more difficult for intruders to break a window and enter your home by installing stronger glass in the more accessible windows. If you have louvered windows, you should replace them with solid glass, or you can add a grate or grill (except to bedroom windows).
Window locks offer an inexpensive way to deter burglars. When installed on double-hung windows (those that slide up and down), these locks work only when the window is completely closed. With other types of windows, you can mount locks on the corners or sides. These locks add security when the windows are partially open. However, make sure family members can open the windows easily in case of an emergency.
Window pinning (inserting a pin or nail above a window so it can't be opened) or track fillers (such as a wooden pole placed into the track of the window) are the least expensive ways to secure double hung windows.