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MONDAY, JULY 30, 2007
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More lights and stronger locks quick fixes to make home safer

By Caryn Rousseau
Associated Press Writer

The high-profile story of three family members killed in a Connecticut home invasion leads many people to an inevitable question: Could it happen to me?

There were 42,324 residential robberies in 2005, up 9.7 percent from 2004, according to FBI statistics (from more than 11,000 police agencies nationwide). That number only includes crimes where threat of force or violence against a person was used.

The same FBI report found 1,060,513 residential burglaries in 2005, up 1.1 percent from 2004. Burglary is defined as the unlawful entry of a structure with intent to commit a crime.

Mark Solomon, a crime prevention specialist with the Seattle Police Department, says most residential thefts happen during the day or when no one is home.

While nothing will make your home fool-proof, Solomon and Al V. Corbi, a high-end home security expert, advise people to take some simple steps that may reduce their chances of exposure.

Lock up. It’s obvious, but easy to forget in summer months. For example, if you are working in the backyard, remember to lock the front door, Solomon says. Remember to lock windows when the home is empty.

Deadbolt lock

Improving your locks can help, too.

Solomon says everyone should get a deadbolt that is at least 1-inch long for every exterior door. Experts also suggest securing door hinges and the strikeplate with 31/2 inch screws that can go through the door frame and into the wall stud, holding the door and lock more firmly in place.

“This makes it much more difficult to force open a door that’s been properly locked,” Solomon said.

Corbi also recommends the “Door Guardian,” a device that attaches in separate pieces to both the frame and the edge of the door. When the door is shut, a piece is flipped over, keeping the door closed.

Increase exterior lighting. Adding lighting to the area around your home is the most cost-effective measure to take, Corbi says. He suggests installing lights controlled by motion detectors.

“The lights go on, the chances are way better than not that (an intruder is) going to back off and keep walking down the block,” says Corbi, who is president of Strategically Armored and Fortified Environments, which has offices on both the East and West coasts. “That simple little thing probably caused you not to get broken into.”

Fake out would-be intruders. Corbi says placing a large dog bowl and a pair of big old dirty boots at the back door is a good ploy.

“That would make a would-be burglar think, ‘there’s probably a dog in here and guy twice my size,’ ” Corbi says. That thought would likely make the burglar keep on walking.

Or post “Beware of Dog” signs. And put lights and the television on timers when not home.

Sound off. Corbi recommends sleeping with the key fob for your car next to your bed. If you are asleep and hear someone break in, you can reach over and hit the panic button on the key fob to make your vehicle’s car alarm sound — it may confuse or panic the intruder.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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