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10 Home Burglary & Auto Theft Prevention Tips

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Is your home or car at risk for a break-in? Since most of us never imagine that we’ll become the victim of a burglary or car theft, it's all too easy to become complacent or even careless in our daily routines. We may accidently leave a side door unlocked or forget to turn on the security system when we leave the house. We may leave valuables in plain sight inside our car or leave the windows partially rolled down, increasing the risk for theft.

Sadly, Americans pay for these careless mistakes. Home burglaries, larceny thefts and auto thefts cost Americans an estimated $3.6 billion in 2016, reports the FBI. While burglary rates fell about 4 percent from 2015, there were still an estimated 1.5 million burglaries in 2016 alone.

Here are some tips on how you could reduce your risk and help keep your home and car safer:

1. Invest in a home security system.

The average dollar loss per burglary in the U.S. is $2,185, reports the FBI - a sum that’s significantly more than the cost for a basic home security system. As an added incentive, some insurance companies may offer home insurance safety discounts for a security system. If you already have a system, use it and prominently display a sign indicating its presence in both your front and back windows.

2. Secure the garage.

Garages are a common entry point for burglars. Worse, an open garage door advertises your belongings to anyone passing by. Burglars who spot an expensive car, bike, or power tools assume there are equally valuable items inside the home, too. Keep the garage door closed and locked–don’t tempt a thief!

3. Install motion sensors.

At night, motion sensors should trigger outdoor lights to turn on. Activating a spotlight without warning could send would-be burglars running in the other direction–even if you are not home.

4. Remove opportunities.

Did you know that approximately 60 percent of burglars use forcible entry to gain access to a home, while 30 percent enter a home through an unlocked door or open window, reports SafeWise? Remove opportunities for burglars to enter your home and take your valued possessions by making sure your doors and windows are locked.

5. Use deadbolts.

Opting for a deadbolt lock provides an added layer of security over a push button lock. When moving into a new home, change all locks immediately. Finally, check your door hinges; they should be located on the inside so burglars cannot remove them easily.

6. Keep your car secure.

Always roll up the windows (including closing the sun roof) and lock your car, even if it’s parked in front of your house in plain view. And never, ever leave your car running or with the keys in the ignition if you’re away from it, even if it’s just “for a quick minute.” All it takes is a few seconds for thieves to slip into the car and drive off!

7. Leave no GPS device behind.

Don’t tempt burglars to break into your car! In addition to hiding GPS devices, remove the suction cup as well. Even the presence of a suction cup on the windshield could alert burglars to the presence of an expensive device in the car.

8. Hide valuable items, but do so privately.

Have you ever parked your car in a parking lot and then popped the trunk to put a bag or computer inside? That’s a risky move! While it’s a good idea to hide valuables, hiding them in the trunk while in public could let potential thieves know exactly where these valuables are hidden.

9. Use a mechanical locking device.

Parking your car for an extended period at the airport, in a public garage or away from regular supervision? Use a device such as a club, collar or j-bar to lock the steering wheel, column, or break, which will prevent the wheel from being turned more than a few degrees.

10. Park in well-lit areas.

Whether you’re parking your car on the street at night or in a mall parking lot, opt for spaces underneath streetlights or in other well-lit areas. Other important considerations include good visibility and easy access to public walkways. The more foot traffic that passes by, the harder it could be for a burglar to get a quiet moment alone with your car.

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