8 simple ideas to prevent home break-ins

(BPT) - Did you know most burglaries are home break-ins? Keeping your home secure is vital to the safety of yourself, your family and your belongings. Here are several simple ideas to increase your personal safety.

1. Install a home security system.

Security systems offer perhaps the most powerful protection for your home. Even a simple alarm system and a few well-placed signs in your yard and on your windows can greatly diminish the likelihood of home break-ins. If you can afford it, motion sensors on doors and windows, along with 24-hour monitoring, delivers even greater protection. Check for discounts on your home insurance for a monitored security system.

2. Check out smart home technology.

Consider investing in security cameras and other smart home technology, such as video doorbells and keylocks. These systems are much easier to install now using wireless devices and can help you monitor your home and alert you to potential activity. They also provide a great way to check in on pets when you're away from home.

3. Don't hide keys outside the house.

For convenience, many people hide a spare key outside near the front door. It might be under the welcome mat, in a planter or on a ledge. If a key is easy for your family or friends to find, it's also easy for thieves to find. Instead, consider leaving a key with a neighbor you trust.

4. Keep those bushes trimmed.

High, full bushes and shrubs around your home are ideal places for thieves to hide while they work on opening your window. By keeping bushes trimmed and lower to the ground, you're making it harder for would-be burglars to gain access to your house.

5. Make it look like you're home.

Most thieves want to strike while you're away. With some good sense and creativity, you can fool them into thinking you're home even when you're not. Consider purchasing timers that turn your lamps and TV on and off at different hours of the evening. You might also consider a timer for your front porch light. If it's lit during the day, it could be a telltale sign that you're away for an extended period. Along that line, don't let the mail or newspapers pile up when you're on vacation. Either suspend service or ask a neighbor to pick them up for you. Check into newer technology lighting that allows you to control lights remotely using your smart device.

6. Install outdoor lighting.

Darkness is a burglar's best friend. When thieves approach your home and bright lights in their faces suddenly confront them, it can be a strong motivation to move on. Motion-activated lighting systems are inexpensive, easy to install and a great way to put thieves in the spotlight. Plus, when you come home at night, these lights will switch on and illuminate the path to your door.

7. Make friends with your neighbors.

Chances are, the neighbors surrounding your home are just as interested in home security as you are. Together, you can create a network of eyes that's always on the lookout for suspicious behavior. If you're going out of town, let your neighbors know in advance so they can be extra vigilant. When they go on vacation, you can do the same for them. Exchange phone numbers and emails with your neighbors, so you can contact them when an emergency arises. Consider joining neighborhood watch groups or online forums to keep informed about things going on in your neighborhood and local area.

8. Keep windows and doors locked.

This tip may seem obvious, but unlocked doors and windows are the cause of many successful burglaries. When the weather's nice, you may open a window and then forget to close it at night or when you run an errand, offering a tempting target for burglars. In addition, don't leave valuable items, such as purses, laptops or credit cards, in plain view through your windows. Thieves may take this opportunity to quickly break the glass and grab your valuables.

For additional information on protecting your home visit USAA.com/homeowners.

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