13 Things You Never Knew About Home Safety

Secure your home with these expert-vetted home safety tips that turn burglars into bunglers.

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1. Store valuables in your child’s sock drawer rather than in your nightstand.

iStock/Alina Solovyova

Thieves often scour the master bedroom but tend to leave children’s rooms untouched.

2. If your front entrance contains decorative glass, install your security keypad in a spot that is not visible from the doorstep.

iStock/Federico Rostagno

That way, burglars won’t be able to peer in and see if the alarm is set.

3. A mail slot goes against the wood grain, weakening the horizontal integrity of a door and making it easier to kick in.

iStock/Luis Ramos, Jr.

Opt for a mailbox, or install your slot near the bottom of the front door, no higher than a quarter of the way up.

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4. Keep car keys next to your bed while you sleep.


If you hear a suspicious noise and suspect that someone is trying to break in, press the Panic button on your key ring. The car alarm will sound, and the burglar will have no choice but to flee the scene.

5. Plant thorny shrubs, such as rosebushes, beneath ground-floor windows.


They’ll add beauty to your garden and deter burglars.

6. If you’re going away on vacation, ask a neighbor to check daily for flyers stuck in your front door.


Crafty criminals have been known to leave pizza ads in doors to see how long it takes for residents to remove them.

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7. Rather than loading up the car the night before a weekend getaway, quickly do it in the morning right before you leave.


Left in front of the house, a fully packed car can serve as a green light for those looking for one.

8. Lower the volume of your telephone ringer.


This way a passerby won’t be able to hear it go to voice mail, which is an indication that no one is home.

9. Don’t store wood near the side of the house, as it can easily be used by intruders as a stepladder up to a window.


Keep logs in the garage or in a pile at the edge of the yard.

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10. If a yard worker or unknown visitor uses the bathroom, he may unlatch the window so he can gain entry later.


Be sure to double-check the lock.

11. Choose your locksmith wisely.


Some are unlicensed or dishonest so always look for a well-established locksmith business that is bonded and insured.

12. If you don't have a security system, at least purchase a decal.


If you cannot afford a security system, buy an alarm or patrol service decal to place on your front door. While an accomplished thief is not fooled, decals may deter a less-experienced thief from entering.

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13. Join a community-wide crime-prevention program.

iStock/Ben Harding

Operation Identification is a nationwide project that encourages people to mark their property to combat burglary and theft. In some cities, burglary rates for Operation Identification households were significantly lower than those of non-participants. Also look into groups like Neighbhorhood Watch to see how you can get involved.

Serge Bloch for Reader's Digest

From How to Be Safe ($24.99, Reader’s Digest Association, Inc.), by Guardsmark founder Ira A. Lipman, with tips on the best locks, alarm systems, and staying secure while on vacation. Buy the book here.

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