Theft-proof your home
As summer heats up so do burglaries. Here's how to protect your home from theft while on vacation.
June 18, 2004: 3:28 PM EDT
By Valerie Morris, CNNfn anchor

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Summer is the hottest time of the year for burglary. And as summer vacation season gets underway more homes are left vacant than at any other time of the year.

According to the FBI, a burglar enters a home every 11 seconds in the United States. More than half of the crimes occur in broad daylight.

"For most thieves, getting into your house is as easy as one, two, three," said Tom Kraeutler, host of "The Money Pit," a radio show focusing on home improvement. "The first thing they do is look for an access point, say behind some bushes, through a window or a door."

Kraeutler advises homeowners to invest in a good quality door with a multi-point lock, so it's not just the door handle that's locking but also a dead bolt.

"The same thing applies to the windows. Make sure you have a window that has a very, very secure lock on it," he added.

One of the best ways to prevent burglary is to create an illusion of activity inside your house even though you're really a thousand miles away. Here are a few ideas:

Stop the press: Halt all mail and newspaper deliveries.

Set automatic timers: Automatic timers turn items on at set times. The newest ones turn on lights, radio and the television in hundreds of different cycles that create a pattern of activity.

Stage a peep show: Leave some blinds and curtains open in their normal positions.

Call the police: Ask the local police if they can keep an eye on your house while you're away.

Kraeutler noted that in many communities, the police department maintains a "vacant house" list of homes that they check periodically to see if there's been any unusual activity.

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As summer vacation season gets underway, more homes are left vacant than any other time of the year. CNNfn's Valerie Morris reports on how to protect it when you're not there.

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If you decide to notify the police that you are away, let them know what they should see. You should, for example, tell them you have two cars in the driveway, along with the makes and models of those vehicles.

"If they show up and see a strange car in your driveway they may investigate [the matter] a little bit further," Kraeutler added.

For extra security, you may want to install a burglar alarm system.

The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association says homes without security systems are about 3 times more likely to be broken into than homes with them. Burglar alarms can lower your home owner's insurance too.  Top of page

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