If you’re like millions of Americans, you’ll be hitting the road sometime before summer ends. Thieves may be looking forward to your departure.
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.
Following are our favorites.
1. Enlist local police
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
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
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 — trying to open it. Keep every exterior door and window locked, including the door between the garage and house.
4. Pretend you have a dog
Getting a dog is a great security move. But if you can’t, then at least 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
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
Don’t open the door — and don’t let kids open the door — to uninvited strangers. Stay home when service workers are in or around your home.
Don’t put keys in obvious places such as inside fake rocks and under pots and doormats. Train children and teens to keep key locations, alarm codes and other family security information private from their friends.