Home Safety

Doors and locks Strangers
Windows and other entrances Vacations or going out
Lighting and noise makers Miscellaneous
Telephones and mailboxes Burglary Prevention Checklist


In 1989 there were over 400,000 domestic burglaries in this country. Many homeowners now realize the importance of taking sensible precautions to protect their homes.

Two out of ten burglaries are committed by professional criminals. In three burglaries out of ten, the thief doesn't even have to use force to get in - the homeowner has left a door or window open. Burglars like easy opportunities. If they have to make a lot of noise, spend a lot of time or risk being seen, the chances are they won't bother. They don't like locked windows because braking glass attracts attention. If a window is secured with a window lock, they won't be able to open it after breaking in, which means they have to climb past broken glass. Nor do they like doors with security deadlocks. These can only be opened with a key, so if a burglar gets in through a window, he has to leave by window because he cannot open the door from inside.  Simple precautions like these do work. So check the security of your home against the advice on these pages, and strengthen the weak spots as soon as possible.

Doors and locks.

  • Change all locks when moving into a new home.
  • Replace all worn locks.
  • Install dead-bolt locks on all outside doors. Use the ones that require a key on both sides of the door.
  • Keep outside doors locked at all times - whether home or not.
  • Install a peephole, so you can see outside without opening the door.
  • Use a chain lock and make sure it is in place before opening the door to strangers.
  • Do not leave spare keys outside. Leave a spare set with a neighbor or trusted friend.
  • If your keys are lost or stolen, replace all door and window locks immediately.
  • Place a piece of 1" x 2" wood or steel rod in the tracks of sliding glass doors.
  • Check that the door hinges are sturdy and secured with strong, long screws.
  • Never leave a spare key in a convenient hiding place such as under the doormat or in a flowerpot - a thief will look there first.

Windows and other entrances.

  • Lock and secure screens and windows. Put blocks on windows so they only open so far.
  • Do not put burglar bars on your windows.
  • Keep shades, curtains, and drapes closed especially when dressing.
  • Lock all the windows and doors when you are and are not home.
  • Use an additional lock on all windows or drill a hole through the lower sash to the frame and use a steel bolt or rod in the hole to prevent the window from being opened.
  • Make sure that all crawl space and roof accesses are locked or nailed shut.
  • Glue the slats of Louver windows in place with an epoxy resin, and fit a special louver lock.
  • Fit window locks on ground and first floor windows.

Lighting and noise makers.

  • Install an alarm system, if possible.
  • Place battery operated door alarms, on all exterior doors.
  • Turn on a television set or radio when you are not home. Use with a timer.
  • Use timers for inside and outside lighting. Make sure that all entrances are well lighted.
  • Get an indoor dog who barks at strangers.
  • Use wireless intercom units to listen in on noise from key points around the house.
  • Good lighting is one of the greatest deterrents to crime
  • Install flood lights on each corner of the house to illuminate dark areas behind bushes, screens, walls, trees, etc.
  • Use flood lights equipped with motion sensors that turn them on whenever they are activated by someone passing near them.

Telephones and mailboxes.

  • Keep emergency numbers posted near the phone.
  • Keep a phone beside the bed or within easy reach.
  • Do not list your phone number, if you do list it, do not include the address in the listing. Also use your initial instead of your first name.
  • Don't give privileged information over the phone.
  • When answering the phone don't give your name.
  • Be aware of the outgoing message on an answering machine.
  • Report threatening or persistent annoyance calls to the police and the phone company.
  • Hang up on obscene phone callers. If the person calls again report it.
  • Teach children how to answer the phone.
  • Put only your last name on the mailbox.
  • Offer to make telephone calls for them while they remain outside.
  • Make sure your street number is visible from the street.
  • Never hang a spare key inside the mail box or letter drop.


  • Do not allow strangers in your home without knowing the purpose of their visit, or without proper identification.
  • Don't open the door to strangers; if they want to use a phone, tell them that you will call for them. Bonafide sales people, repair persons, and officers of the law carry proper photo identification, and if you still have doubts, call the number on their identification to check.
  • Don't let a stranger know that you are home alone. Yell something like "John can you get the door, I'm busy."
  • If you see a stranger when you get home, don't get out of your car. Find out what he wants first.
  • If you are inside your house and hear someone, close and lock the door of the room you are in and then get out of the house or phone the police. Don't confront the stranger.
  • Always put the chain on when opening your door to anyone.
  • Check to see who it is by using the spy-hole if you have one, or look through a front window.
  • Some utility services (e.g. water, electric, gas), don't actually have to come inside. Contact your local branch to find out more.
  • Bogus callers sometimes work in pairs. Beware of one distracting you while the other steals your property. The best practice is not to let them in.
  • Watch out for anyone who says they're in a hurry. Don't let them pressure you. If in doubt, call a neighbor or friend.
  • If you're still not sure, ask the caller to come back later. You can then check their story by phoning the company they claim to represent. Look up the number in your telephone directory. Don't rely on the telephone number on their card - it may be the number of a crook's partner.
  • If you're still not happy, phone the police - dial 911- and tell them what's happened. And tell your neighbors.

Vacations or going out.

  • When on vacation, have someone keep up appearances: mow you lawn or remove snow.
  • If your return to find your home has been broken into, stay out and immediately call the police.
  • Go to reputable, well-populated restaurants, bars, theaters, motels, hotels, etc.
  • Avoid "swinging singles" places when alone.
  • Avoid sitting in dark corners. Try to face the entrance way and have most of the room in full view.
  • If alone, sit near the cashier, or at the counter.
  • In a theater, sit in an aisle seat or close to a family
  • Keep your purse in your lap. Do not put it on the floor or in the seat next to you.
  • Dress appropriately
  • Do not flirt with strangers.
  • Park near the place that you are going to visit.
  • Do not accept offers from strangers to walk you to your car, front door, etc.
  • Do not accompany an individual home that you have recently met.
  • Notice if anyone follows you as you leave.
  • If alone, do not accept food or drinks from a stranger.
  • If annoyed verbally or physically by someone, speak out, tell the manager, or leave the table.
  • Don't give personal information to a stranger or talk about personal information in a public place.
  • Know your liquor capacity and don't exceed it.
  • Be sure that hotel/motel room windows and doors are secured.
  • Check to see if someone is on duty all night
  • Register using your last name and initial only
  • Leave valuables in a motel safe if available, otherwise hide them in the room.
  • Do not invite strangers into your room.
  • Answer the door with caution. Keep the chain on until you've identified the visitor.
  • When leaving your room turn on the TV or radio.
  • When going to your room, have your key ready to open the door.
  • Leave a phone number with your neighbor! If you will be traveling to several different destinations, leave an itinerary. Also give your neighbor the names and phone numbers of friends or relatives who would be able to act for you in case of an emergency such as a fire, water leak etc.
  • If you are expecting a package delivery while you're away, ask that it be delivered to a neighbor who is home during the day.


  • Don't advertise that you are alone. Keep shades or drapes drawn.
  • When you know your are coming home after dark, turn on the porch light and leave an inside light on or use a timer.
  • Don’t let children answer the door or telephone.
  • Avoid ground floor apartments or condos as they are easily broken into.
  • Do not linger in laundry rooms.
  • Visit laundry rooms when there are others around.
  • Set up safety checks when leaving children at home.
  • Be aware of potential hiding spots.
  • Safeguard peripheral areas of your home (gates, garages, etc.).
  • Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
  • Get to know your neighbors. If your neighbors see anything unusual, they can help you, and in turn, you can help them.
  • Be aware when putting up "attractive nuisances," and safeguard them appropriately.
  • Engrave valuable items with your driver's license numbers. Record serial numbers.
  • Keep money and valuables out of sight.
  • Carry insurance on your home and possessions.

Gates and Fences: Check fences at the back and sides of your house for weak spots where a thief could get in - a low or sagging fence, or a back gate with no adequate lock. An additional deterrent is to plant a thorny hedge or climber along the boundary. But make sure that the front of the house is still visible to passers-by so that any burglar cannot work unseen.  Lock your side gates and secure your garage door. If you must leave a car parked outside, remove any valuables and park it in a well lighted area of your driveway.

Visibility: If you plant bushes or shrubs, make sure they do not obscure the view of your doors or windows to provide cover for a thief.

Garages: Never leave a garage or garden shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house; a thief could let himself in and work on the inner door in privacy. Tools provide a thief with a ready made kit for forcing a door or window. And lock ladders inside the garage or shed to stop a thief using them to reach inaccessible windows. If there's no room inside, chain or padlock them horizontally to a stout bracket on an outside wall.

Side Passages: Stop a thief getting to the back of the house, where he can work with less chance of being disturbed, by fitting a strong, high gate across the passage. If you share an alley way with a neighbor, ask his or her permission and for help with the cost.

Chains: These help you to speak with strangers at the door before letting them in.   Once you have fitted one, get into the habit of using it.

Intruders in the night:  Waking in the middle of the night to hear footsteps is an unnerving experience. If it happens, the best advice is not to lie still and pretend to be asleep, nor to confront the burglar. Both courses of action are difficult and risky. Instead, switch on the lights and make a lot of noise by moving about. Even if you're on your own, call out loudly to an imaginary companion. Most burglars will flee empty-handed rather than risk a confrontation.  Ring the police as soon as you safely can.

ALERT - 911 Cell Phone Calls:  Many people don't realize that if they use their cell phones to call 911 emergency, they WILL NOT REACH LOCAL EMERGENCY DISPATCH! They will be connected to the Highway Patrol Dispatch Center who will screen the call and transfer you to the appropriate agency. This can take a long time and often these calls are lost due to poor connections. If you need help from a cell phone Oaks, it might be faster to call the operator


  • Someone screaming or shouting for help.
  • Someone looking in windows and parked cars.
  • Unusual noises.
  • Property being taken out of houses where no one is home or a closed business.
  • Cars, vans or trucks moving slowly with no apparent destination, or without lights.
  • Anyone being forced into a vehicle.
  • A stranger sitting in a car or stopping to talk to a child.
  • Abandoned cars.

Burglary Prevention Checklist For Homes

This checklist was designed to help you make a security survey of your own home.

The first purpose of a home security inspection is to identify features in your home or daily routines of your family which might make your home an easy target for a burglar.

The security inspection should begin at your front door, include an inspection of all your doors and windows, locks, lights and landscaping. Each question on the checklist which you answer with an "x" or a check mark in the second column indicates a security weakness or hazard which requires your attention.

If you would like professional advice and assistance in a thorough home security inspection, call your local law enforcement agency.


1 Are all outside doors in the house of metal or solid wood construction? Yes____ No____
2 Are door frames strong enough and tight enough to prevent forcing or spreading? Yes____ No____
3 Are door hinges protected from removal from the outside? Yes____ No____
4 Are there windows in any door or within 40 inches of the locks? Yes____ No____
5 Are all door locks adequate and in good repair? Yes____ No____
6 Are strikes and strike plates adequate and properly installed? Yes____ No____
7 Can the locking mechanism be reached through a mail slot, delivery port or pet entrance at the door? Yes____ No____
8 Is there a screen or storm door with an adequate lock? Yes____ No____
9 Are all entrances lighted with at least a 40 watt light? Yes____ No____
10 Can front entrances be observed from the street or public area? Yes____ No____
11 Does the porch or landscaping offer concealment from view from the street or public area? Yes____ No____
12 If there is a sliding glass door, is the sliding panel secured from being lifted out of its track? Yes____ No____
13 Is the "charley-bar" or a key operated auxiliary lock used on sliding glass doors? Yes____ No____


14 Are all entrances to the living quarters from a garage or basement of metal or solid wood construction? Yes____ No____
15 Does the door from the garage to the living quarters have locks adequate for exterior entrances? Yes____ No____
16 Does the door from the basement to the living quarters have an adequate lock operated from the living quarters side? Yes____ No____


17 Do all windows have adequate locks in operating condition? Yes____ No____
18 Do windows have screens or storm windows that lock from the inside? Yes____ No____
19 Do any windows open into areas that may be hazardous or offer special risk to burglary? Yes____ No____
20 Do windows that open into hazardous areas have security screens or grills? Yes____ No____
21 Are exterior areas of windows free from concealing structure or landscaping? Yes____ No____
22 Is the exterior adequately lighted at all window areas? Yes____ No____
23 Are trees and shrubbery kept trimmed back from upper floor windows? Yes____ No____
24 Are ladders kept outside the house where they are accessible? Yes____ No____


25 Is there a door from the outside to the basement? Yes____ No____
26 If so, is that door adequately secure for an exterior door? Yes____ No____
27 Is the outside basement entrance lighted by an exterior light of at least 40 watts? Yes____ No____
28 Is the outside basement door concealed from the street or neighbors? Yes____ No____
29 Are all basement windows adequately secured against entrance? Yes____ No____


30 Is the automobile entrance door to the garage equipped with an adequate locking device? Yes____ No____
31 Is the garage door kept closed and locked at all times? Yes____ No____
32 Are the garage windows secured adequately for ground floor windows? Yes____ No____
33 Is the outside utility entrance to the garage as secure as required for any ground floor entrance? Yes____ No____
34 Are tools and ladders kept in the garage? Yes____ No____
35 Are all garage doors lighted on the outside by at least a 40 watt light? Yes____ No____

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