Angie's List: Tips to avoid home burglary

According to the FBI, there are more than two million home burglaries in the U.S. every year.

But there's a small number of things you can do to reduce the risk it will happen to you.

Locks, doors and lights.

It's really that simple.

In 2010 home burglaries resulted in $4 billion dollars in property loss.

Out of all burglaries, more than 60 percent were the result of forced entry.

Residential burglaries accounted for 74 percent, and more than half occurred during the daytime.

Out of all home burglaries, 74 percent were the result of forced entry, like kicking in a door.

And more than half occur during the day.

On her way to work one morning, Katie noticed a bicycle and snow blower missing from her garage.

"I'm not a fearful person,” Katie says. “I tend to be careful, but not fearful. So more than anything, I was just really, really frustrated and irritated and a little, more than a little angry. And secondly felt a little foolish because the side door of the garage had been-was unlocked. It had an old lock on it, we didn't have a key, so it wasn't secured."

Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks advises buying new door locks.

"If you're concerned about security around your home, a great improvement is to install deadbolts on your doors,” she says. “This can be done for about $100 a lock."

Katie says new locks are worth the money.

"It cost less than $200,” she said. “That included the cost of the deadbolt lock and the keys. It was worth it because the bike was worth well more than that, and the snow blower. Which fortunately, we haven't had to use it since it was stolen - we wouldn't have had to use it, but it was worth the investment and we were really pleased that he was willing to come out so quickly."

But a good lock alone won't keep the bad guys out adds Hicks.

"Before you invest in locks for your door the first thing you want to do is make sure you have a good door because it doesn't do any good to put a lock on a bad door,” advises Hicks. “Check your door frame to make sure it's in good condition and then make sure you've got a solid door. If you knock on the door a solid door will sound "dead" when you knock while a hollow door is going to echo."

It's also important your home and its surroundings are well lit.

"A lighting system will keep you and your home safe in a couple of ways,” says lighting contractor Ralph Redmond. “One is well lit pathways, stairways and safer to navigate, plus you'll be able to see tripping hazards if those exist. The other thing is that those of criminal intent would prefer to work under the cover of darkness, so a well-lit home will discourage those sorts of activities.”

Hicks adds that lights alone may not be enough.
“When installing security lighting the key here is to make sure you are using it properly. Lights that are left on all the time are often ignored and may not be a sign that you are actually home. Using lights that are on sensors are a much better choice."

Security lighting should be mounted high enough to prevent tampering and can also be protected by a plastic guard or metal mesh cages.

It's also wise to have a security lighting plan for the interior of the home, especially if you plan to be away for an extended period of time.

The best timers will allow random settings, so there is no fixed pattern to signal when you're away.
Let's say you want to install your own deadbolt locks.

How do you know which one to choose?

Organizations like the American National Standards Institute or ANSI give quality ratings that range from one to three.

One represents the highest quality, so check the lock before buying.


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