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Find an Ideal Target

Take precautions to avoid leaving signs that you're not at home.

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Burglars aren't going to bother with targets they don't think will allow them to get in and out undetected, loot-rich. Ideal targets are homes with indications no one will return soon. A plastic-wrapped phone book left all day on a driveway, a note left on a front door for an afternoon package delivery -- these are examples of the types of things burglars look for.

Signs of life are likely to put off would-be thieves. They can be fooled by strategic lighting and loud broadcasts (radios consume less energy than TVs, and talk shows sound like conversations in the home). At night, lights and a radio or TV on timers keep homes looking occupied into the wee hours, deterring burglars and keeping families safer long after bedtime.

Bold burglars peer through windows hoping to spy silver services, plasma TVs and baseball card collections. Best bets: Move valuables out of sight, and keep stashes safe by closing window coverings while away.

To keep a house safe while on vacation:

  • Place lights on timers. Lights burning 24/7 scream, "Empty house!"
  • Ask neighbors or friends to perform daily checks and collect newspapers and mail.
  • Given last names, anyone can find most phone numbers. Names on mailboxes and un-retrieved packages encourage possible thieves to park outside, dial the number and see if someone picks up. Any time the house will be empty (vacations, workdays), best use call forwarding so someone always answers.
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