10 things that make your home a target for thieves, what to do

By Greg Noll / Special To Sierra StarNovember 16, 2012 

A home is burglarized every 14.6 seconds and the average dollar loss per burglary is $2,119, according to statistics just released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and residents of Eastern Madera County and not insulated from such crime.

The absolute worst feeling in the world is to come home and know that someone has been in your house and taken items from you.

Be sure you lock your doors and windows when you're not home. You'd be surprised how many people don't.

Here are 10 other things that you're probably doing that make your home a target, and what you should do instead to help reduce the likelihood of being burglarized:

1. Leaving your garage door open or unlocked.

Once inside the garage, a burglar can use any tools you haven't locked away to break into your home, out of sight of the neighbors. Interior doors between the garage and your home often aren't as strong as exterior doors and may not have deadbolt locks.

Instead: Always close and lock the garage door. Consider getting a garage-door opener with random codes that automatically reset.

2. Hiding spare keys.

Burglars know about fake rocks and leprechaun statues and will check under doormats, in mailboxes and over doorways.

Instead: Give a spare set to a trusted neighbor or family member.

3. Storing ladders outdoors or in unlocked sheds.

Burglars can use them to reach the roof and unprotected upper floor windows.

Instead: Keep ladders under lock and key.

4. Relying on silent alarm systems.

Everyone hates noisy alarms, especially burglars. Smart thieves know that it can take as long as 10 to 20 minutes for the alarm company or cops to show up after an alarm has been tripped.

Instead: Have both silent and audible alarms.

5. Allowing your landscape get overgrown.

Tall hedges and shrubs near the house create hiding spots for burglars who may even use overhanging branches to climb onto your roof.

Instead: Trim any bushes and trees around your home.

6. Keeping your house in the dark.

Like overgrown landscaping, poor exterior lighting creates shadows in which burglars can work unobserved.

Instead: Replace burned out bulbs promptly, add lighting where needed and consider putting fixtures on motion sensors or light sensors so that they go on automatically.

7. Not securing sliding doors.

These often make tempting targets.

Instead: When you're out, put a dowel down in the channel, so that the door can't be opened wide enough for a person to get through.

8. Relying on your dog to scare away burglars.

While barking my deter amateurs, serious burglars know that dogs may back away from someone wielding a weapon, or get chummy if offered a treat.

Instead: Make your home look occupied by using timers to turn lights, radios and TVs on and off in random patterns.

9. Leaving "goody" boxes by the curb.

Nothing screams "I just got a brand new flat-screen, stereo, or other big-ticket item" better than boxes by the curb with your garbage cans.

Instead: Break down big boxes into small pieces and bundle them together so the bad guys can't tell what was inside.

10. Posting vacation photos on Facebook.

Burglars troll social media sites looking for targets.

Instead: Wait until you get back before sharing vacation details or make sure your security settings only allow trusted "friends" to see what you're up to

-- Oakhurst resident Greg Noll is a 27-year veteran of the Fresno Police Department and is currently a supervisor in investigations.```

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