Burglars won't find your home an "easy mark" if they are forced to work in the light, if they have to take a lot of time breaking in, or if they can't break in without making a lot of noise.
Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar will go elsewhere.
Most insurance companies provide 2 percent to 15 percent discounts for devices that make a home safer--dead-bolt locks, window grates, bars and smoke/fire/burglar alarms.
However, when improving the security of your home, don't exchange security for personal safety. Don't make your home such a fortress that you are unable to escape in case of a fire or other emergency.
Are any of your valuables-paintings, a silver collection or a computer-easy to see from outside the house? Rearranging your furnishings might be advisable if it makes your home less inviting to criminals.
Make sure you have strong doors. Outside doors should be metal or solid hardwood, and at least 13/4 inches thick. Frames must be made of equally strong material, and each door must fit its frame securely. Even the most efficient lock, if it is placed in a weak door, will not keep out a determined burglar.
A peephole or a wide-angle viewer in the door is safer for identifying visitors than a door chain.
Sliding glass doors present a special problem because they are easy to open, but you have these doors, you can find special locks for them. A broomstick in the door channel can also help, but cannot be depended on.
Deadbolt locks are best. They usually are locked with a key from the outside and a thumb turn on the inside. The cylinder (where the key is inserted) should be pick-resistant. Ask your hardware dealer for a reputable brand or buy your locks from a locksmith.
Key locks are available for all types of windows. Double-hung windows can be secured simply by "pinning" the upper and lower frames together with a nail, which can be removed from the inside.
For windows at street level or on fire escapes, consider installing metal accordion gates.
Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org
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