Leaving Home This Weekend? 6 No-Cost Ways to Keep Thieves Away

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Worried about your home's appeal to thieves while you're off vacationing? Here are a half-dozen free ways to bolster your sense of security.

If you’re like millions of Americans, you’re hitting the road for the Fourth of July weekend. Thieves are looking forward to the mass exodus.

How secure is your castle?

If you are unsure, there is some good news: There are several easy, no-tech ways to improve your home’s security for free, or next to nothing.

In the long run, you may want to invest in a security system for your home. Check out “Tips for Choosing the Right Security System for Your Home.”

But in the meantime, these are not high-tech answers, or costly security systems — just things that might cause a thief to wonder whether you are home or the risk of breaking in might be a little too high.

Remember, the most effective improvements are the ones that persuade a burglar to move on to the next guy’s home.

1. Enlist local police

John Roman Images / Shutterstock.comJohn Roman Images / Shutterstock.com

Local police departments typically will send a trained officer to your home to do a walk-through with you, pointing out your vulnerabilities and suggesting simple fixes.

Also, check your police department’s website for crime statistics and tips. For example, here is the Los Angeles Police Department’s detailed list of home-security tips for residents.

Finally, remember to alert police when you’ll be out of town so they can keep a watch over your home.

2. Chat up the neighbors

Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.comIakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

Join the local Neighborhood Watch program or start one. Chatting with neighbors updates you on local crime problems and enlists allies who’ll watch your home while you’re away. Neighbors are terrific watchdogs.

3. Use your locks

simkoe / Shutterstock.comsimkoe / Shutterstock.com

Even if your neighborhood feels safe, make locking up a habit. Burglars often test a home by knocking on a door and, if no one answers, opening it. Keep every exterior door and window locked, including the door between the garage and house.

4. Pretend you have a dog

Georgiy Myakishev / Shutterstock.comGeorgiy Myakishev / Shutterstock.com

Getting a dog is a great security move. But if you can’t, pretend to have one. Buy a couple of “Beware of Dog” signs at a hardware store and put them up. When a stranger is at the door, make a show of putting the “dog” in the other room before you open the door.

5. Keep your home looking theft-proof

Photographicss / Shutterstock.comPhotographicss / Shutterstock.com

Appearances count, especially when you are trying to keep burglars away. So keep your place looking lived in. Rotate lights on timers when you’re gone. Ask the post office to hold your mail, reschedule expected deliveries, and get friends to drop by randomly to water plants or just walk around.

Also, make cosmetic changes to your home that will deter thieves. Remember that bushy trees and shrubs provide cover for bad deeds. Keep the foliage well-trimmed. Paste a local security company’s sticker on your front window.

6. Use your head

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.comAndrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Don’t open the door — and don’t let kids open the door — to uninvited strangers. Stay home when workers are in or around your home.

Don’t put keys in obvious places like fake rocks and under pots and doormats. Train children (especially teens) to keep key locations, alarm codes and other family security information private from their friends.

Have you tried installing any of these or other improvements in your home? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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