Outsmarting Burglars: Three Tips For Keeping Your Home Safe From Property Crimes

Next to a fire, one of the biggest worries for a homeowner is a crime like breaking and entering, where your house is violated and your personal things stolen. Instead of spending more time being worried this year, make 2015 the year you'll make sure to outsmart the burglars.

According to the FBI, property crimes -- stealing from others' homes -- resulted in $16.6 billion in losses for 2013. The good news is, that's a decrease from the previous decade; the bad news is that you still need to be diligent about security around your home to avoid being one of the statistics.

1. Lock your doors.

The best locks in the world and the most high-tech security systems won't help if you fail to use them. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association reports that more than 30 percent of burglars enter homes through an unlocked door or window.

If you are having trouble remembering to keep things locked up, talk to your locksmith or security company about installing a system that will let you keep tabs on your home security through an app on your smartphone. These systems aren't cheap, but you can check and lock from wherever you are. A low-tech way to help you remember is to create a simple checklist that you post at the door that you most often leave from. Run down the list and check doors, windows, and other openings before you go anywhere and before you go to bed.

2. Perform a home security audit.

Home alarm companies often have checklists that you can use as the basis of a home security audit. In some communities, police officers are available to review your home security and make suggestions that will prevent many crimes. Call your non-emergency police phone number to inquire whether this is available in your area.

Key points to cover in your home security audit:

  • Check doors and windows. All should have locks; deadbolt-style locks are preferred where possible. Exterior doors should be solid core doors that cannot easily be kicked in or drilled through. Use a rod in the track of sliding doors and windows.
  • Clean up landscaping. Remove any shrubs or greenery that could hide someone near your front door.
  • Check outbuildings. Your garage, shed and shop should all be locked with the same types of doors and locks that you use on your main home.
  • Consider placement of valuables. Can a thief look through the front window and see expensive stereo equipment? Get window coverings or move your valuables where they can't easily be seen. While you're at it, make a list with photos and serial numbers of all your valuable possessions.

3. Use restricted keyway locks on your doors.

Someone you know and trust ,like a babysitter, landscaper or housekeeper, may -- knowingly or unknowingly -- allow your key to be duplicated. With a duplicate key, a criminal can gain access to your house quickly and easily.

A restricted keyway lock uses a key that is made and controlled by one locksmith and thus cannot be duplicated without authorization. Other locksmiths cannot duplicate it; the original locksmith will have a list of officially authorized keyholders and require ID to prove that someone cutting a key is authorized.

Often used in businesses, restricted keyways are now becoming more popular for residential use. They can even be installed into existing locks, depending on the type of lock in place.

If a restricted keyway doesn't fit your home security needs, contact a local locksmith company, like Bellows Locksmith, about other high-security lock options.