Whether you live in a big city neighborhood or a small suburban subdivision, it is smart to take measures to secure your home against theft and burglaries. Check out this list of things to do for a safer, more secure Chicago home or condo.
1. Always lock and deadbolt your doors, whether you are at home or out of the house. Some burglars simply walk around trying doors to see if they are unlocked and the first one they find with easy access becomes the target.
2. Install locks with keys that can only be duplicated by the manufacturer (and not by a key cutter at the hardware store). Make sure to get some spare keys when you have the lock installed, in case you lose one and need a replacement.
3. If you don’t have a specialty lock, at least get keys that have “Do not duplicate” etched into them. It doesn’t prevent someone from having another key made but it actually does help deter people from making copies.
4. Do not set the code for keyless garage door openers or other entry keypads to a common number such as your birth date, anniversary, Social Security number or telephone number.
5. If you are out of town, ask a neighbor to bring in your newspapers and/or mail so it doesn’t pile up on your front porch or in your mailbox—indicating to thieves that there is no one home.
6. If you have just moved into a new home, change the locks and have the alarm system (if you have one) activated immediately. Some burglars watch homes that are up for sale and as soon as the new owner moves their stuff in, they strike.
7. Always change the locks when you move into a new home because you do not know who had a key to the home before or how many copies of the key are floating around out there.
8. Keep windows shut and locked when you are not at home, especially those on lower levels.
9. Always set your alarm when you leave the house, even if you will only be gone for a few minutes. When you are in the home and are not planning to leave again for the day/evening, set the alarm with motion sensor bypass so you can move about the house but the alarm will go off if someone comes in the door uninvited.
10. Use timers to turn lights and the television on and off while you are out of town.
11. Do not put empty boxes from new expensive purchases out on the curb or leave them sticking out of the garage can. This alerts potential burglars that you have some nice items to steal inside. Instead tear down the boxes and put them in opaque bags before throwing away.
12. Do not put anything about your being out of town on Facebook or other social networks until you have returned from your trip because it tells people you are not at home.
13. Display stickers or signs for your alarm system prominently in windows, on doors and in the front yard. The fact that you have (or even might have) an activated alarm will deter many burglars from targeting your home as opposed to another house that isn’t protected by an alarm system.
14. Do not hide spare house keys around your home or in the yard. Even if it seems like an impossible spot to find, someone could watch you retrieve the key and know exactly how to get into your place the next time you go out.
15. Keep an updated inventory of your household and personal belongings so you will have a record of what is missing if your home does get burglarized. An easy way to do this is to take a video camera through every room in your home. Show what is in every drawer, cupboard, closet and bin. Describe the items in detail as you record them and include important information, such as serial and model numbers, brand names, and value or price.