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Some estimates suggest that home break-ins occur about 20 times a minute in North America, so it is becoming increasingly more important that home owners learn about and take precautions to increase their home security. There are basic approaches that you can take, without making your home into a fortress.

Many burglaries occur simply because the homeowner was careless and provided access and opportunity for a crime to take place. Think about it from the point of view of the thief. He does not want to be seen, and he wants to get in and out quickly. This gives a good low cost starting point for the homeowner wishing to improve his home security.

First, how visible is your main entrance from the street? All trees and shrubs should be trimmed so that there are no hiding places. Consider keeping your home well lit at night, especially the exterior doors. For a little extra money, you could have motion activated flood lights installed.

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For that matter, remember to use what you already have, and this includes using door and window locks. Do a check around your house, to reduce potential easy points of entry. To help you, consider what you might do if you locked yourself out of the house. For example, are there any skylights that can be easily removed, or glass panels on doors that give easy access to the lock? Be sure any ladders or other tools are not stored outside the house. Are ground level and basement windows protected? If the garage is attached to the house, be sure that garage doors and windows are properly secured so that this is not an easy entry point to your residence. This includes replacing any broken panels or hardware on the garage door. Check the locks on the windows and doors in the house. Windows should have reinforced locking mechanisms, and all exterior doors should have heavy duty dead bolts and reinforced jams. For more information about how to prevent home burglaries, check your local police department web site. Many departments offer a free walkthrough of your property to offer additional tips for home security. They can also give advice on how to establish a neighborhood watch program, so that your entire community works to reduce criminal activity.

A more expensive approach to home security is to install an alarm system. Discuss options with a local home security company, starting with the basic sensors for doors and windows. Consider the benefits of a monitored system that can be set up so that police are notified.

Following any or all of these simple measures can help prevent criminals from entering your property.