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Dos and Donts to protect Your Home From Burglars

DON'T: Buy but not use alarms. Almost every pricey house that is robbed has some kind of alarm that is not turned on. DO: Arm the alarm even if you are only running out for 15 minutes. Knowledgeable burglars snoop neighborhoods and learn when residents go to work or run errands and how long they are likely to be away. They're ready to break in as soon you are gone. Get a zone alarm system that has room to room settings.

You can leave the bedroom alarm armed when you're in the living room, for example. The best alarm systems offer many layers of protection, motion, heat light sensors, etc. DON'T: Posting alarm signs that say what alarm company you are using. Thieves can easily buy schematics on how the systems are wired and can easily bypass them. DO: Buy generic signs that read, 'This house is protected by an alarm system. As long as it does not give specific information, it can be an excellent deterrent.

As long as it doesn't reveal detailed information, it can be an excellent deterrent. DON'T: Keep lights on. A light that stays lit all day and night is no more of a deterrent than a dark house. Use timers that turn on an off lights in different parts of the home at different intervals. Web retailers and home stores sell motion detectors that turn on lamps or appliances if somebody enters the home. DON'T: Hide items in the bedroom.

It's the first place burglars look. Most robbers spend 15 minutes or or even less in each house.More than half of the time is spent in the bedroom, looking in the usual hiding places, an dresser drawer under the mattress high closet shelves, etc. Don't hide all of your valuables in one spot.

A burglar is not likely to get everything if you spread out things in different locations. DO: Keep valuables or jewelry you seldom wear in a safe-deposit box. Conceal other items in spots where thieves don't think to look, like the garage, or above dropped ceilings. Or hide valuables in the deep freeze or in diversion safes made for this purpose. DON'T: Get a big dog.

A doberman or German shepherd might seem scary, but burglars don't care. Most big dogs, unless they're real guard dogs, don't bark much. What you want is a "yapper," a small pooch that makes a lot of noise when disturbed. DON'T: Hide windows with bushes.

Tall shrubs give burglars a safe, dark place to force open windows without being seen. Keep bushes trimmed to below window level.

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