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Top 5 Home Security Tips

Make Some Noise
A well-advertised alarm system may deter a thief from entering your home.
A well-advertised alarm system may deter a thief from entering your home.

Alarm companies portray their product as a cure-all -- an impenetrable force field that takes the uncertainty out of home security. In fact, it doesn't really stop anyone from breaking in. It does, however, make your home a less favorable target if you use it the right way.

Alarms seem pretty foolproof. Install. Activate. Remember to turn on. Trusted people get the passcode, others trigger the blaring. The thing about alarms, though, is that the blaring happens after the fact. Somebody has already broken in, has probably already taken whatever small valuables were closest to the door and has gotten away by the time the alarm company alerts police and the cops arrive.

In this way, an alarm is mostly about peace of mind; if something does happen, help will be on the way quickly. And that's no small thing. But if you want an alarm to really protect, the criminals have to know it's there before they target you. That means displaying that unsightly notice with the alarm company's name on it, and displaying it prominently, outside the house. When people keep it hidden so as not to disturb landscape aesthetics, would-be thieves don't know the home is any less desirable than the house next door, and the alarm is only an after-the-fact security measure.

The lesson? Alarms are most effective when they're most obvious.

Up next: Some things are better left less obvious.