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Here are some helpful tips to reduce your chances of being a burglary victim:

Doors, Windows, Locks and Keys
Shrubbery and Lighting
Other Tips
Burglary Prevention Checklist for Homes
How to Keep Burglars Out--Points to Remember

Doors, Windows, Locks and Keys

  • All doors that lead to the outside should be metal or solid-core, 1-3/4 inch hardwood. Most hollow doors can be easily broken through.
  • Each door should fit in its frame with no more than 1/8 inch clearance between the door and frame. A metal lining on the inside of an exterior door can prevent drilling, sawing, or kicking through.
  • Make sure all doors to the outside have good locks -- deadbolt locks with a minimum 1-1/2 inch bolt. Make sure locks are also installed on screen and storm doors, garage doors, cellar doors, patio doors, and any other door that leads to the outside (including second-floor patios or decks).
  • Always use the locks you have, on both your home and your garage. Lock up every time you go out, even if it's only for a few minutes. Almost 50 percent of burglars enter homes or property through unlocked doors or windows.
  • Locks on doors should be placed at least 40 inches away from windows, glass panels, and other potential openings such as mail slots. Make it hard for a burglar to reach in and unlock your door. Or install double cylinder, deadbolt locks that need to be opened with a key from the inside as well as the outside.
  • Door hinges should always be on the inside and designed so that hinge pin cannot be removed from the outside.
  • Never hide keys outside, such as under a bush or in a flower pot. Burglars know where to find "secret" hiding places. It's much better to leave a key with a trusted neighbor.
  • Don't place identification tags on your keys or key rings; if you lose them, you give potential burglars help.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available bars or locks, or put a wooden dowel or broom handle in the door track. Burglars look for sliding glass doors because they are the easiest to open.
  • Secure roof openings and exhaust systems.
  • Make sure windows, especially those at ground level, have good locks-and always use the locks you have.
  • The center thumb-turn locks on many standard windows can be easily pried open or reached through a broken pane. For especially vulnerable windows, install key locks or consider installing grates or grilles (but make sure the devices can be easily detached to allow quick escape during a fire or other emergency). Glass block windows offer excellent security for basement windows.
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Shrubbery and Lighting

  • Make sure all porches and other possible entrances are well lit, with at least 40-watt bulbs. A well-lit house is far better protected than a house without lights.
  • Overgrown bushes, tree limbs, or landscaping can provide cover for burglars. Trim them to the height of porches or windows.

Other Tips

  • Always lock up ladders and tools. Don't give a burglar the resources to break into your home.
  • Window air conditioning units should be bolted to the wall to prevent them from being easily removed from the outside.
  • If you have recently purchased a television, stereo equipment, or other household item, do not throw the empty boxes in the alley garbage. This is a sure sign and strong temptation for burglars.
  • Turn the ringer on the telephone down low. If a burglar is around, he won't be alerted to your absence by a ringing phone.
  • If you are out during the day or on vacation, use an automatic timer to turn on lights and a radio at different times of the day. It is an easy way to disguise the fact they you aren't home.
  • Have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers every day while you are on vacation. Have a neighbor use your garbage cans occasionally. During the winter, arrange to have snow shoveled.
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Burglary Prevention Checklist for Homes

For your convenience, you can easily print this checklist from our Forms and Applications page in the Reference Desk section of our website.

This checklist is designed to help you make a security check of your own home.  The purpose of a home security inspection is to identify features in your home or daily routines of your family which might make your home an easy target for a burglar.  The security inspection should begin at your front door, and include an inspection of all your doors and windows, locks, lights and landscaping. 


Are all outside doors in the house of metal or solid wood construction? Yes___No___  

Are all door frames strong enough and tight enough to prevent forcing or spreading? Yes___No___  

Are door hinges protected from removal from outside? Yes___No___  

Are there windows in any door or within 40 inches of the locks? Yes___No___  

Are all door locks adequate and in good repair? Yes___No___  

Are strikes and strike plates adequate and property installed? Yes___No___  

Can the locking mechanism be reached through a mail slot, delivery port or a pet entrance at doorway? Yes___No___  

Is there a screen or storm door with an adequate lock? Yes___No___  

Are all entrances lighted with at least a 40 watt light? Yes___No___  

Can front entrance be observed from street or public areas? Yes___No___  

Does porch or landscaping offer concealment from view from street or public areas? Yes___No___  

If there is a sliding glass door, is the sliding panel secured from being lifted out of the track? Yes___No___  

Is "charley-bar" or key operated auxiliary lock used on sliding glass door? Yes___No___   

Entrances from Garage and Basement

Are all entrances to living quarters from basement made of metal or solid wood? Yes___No___  

Does door from garage to living quarters have locks adequate for exterior entrance? Yes___No___   


Do all windows have adequate locks in operating condition? Yes___No___  

Do windows have screens or storm windows that lock from inside? Yes___No___  

Do any windows open onto areas that may be hazardous or offer special risk to burglary? Yes___No___  

Do windows that open to hazardous areas have security screens or grills? Yes___No___  

Are exterior areas to windows free from concealing structure or landscaping? Yes___No___  

Is exterior adequately lighted at all window areas? Yes___No___  

Are trees and shrubbery kept trimmed back from upper floor windows? Yes___No___  

Are ladders kept outside the house where they are accessible? Yes___No___   

Basement Doors and Windows

Is there a door from outside to the basement? Yes___No___  

If so, is that door adequately secure for an exterior door? Yes___No___  

Is outside basement entrance lighted by exterior light of at least 40 watts? Yes___No___  

Is outside basement door concealed from street or neighbors? Yes___No___  

Are all basement windows adequately secured against entry? Yes___No___  

Garage Doors and Windows

Is automobile entrance door to garage equipped with adequate locking device? Yes___No___  

Is garage door kept closed and locked at all times? Yes___No___  

Are garage windows secured adequately for ground floor windows? Yes___No___  

Is outside utility entrance to garage as secure as required for any ground floor entrance? Yes___No___  

Are tools and ladders kept in garage? Yes___No___  

Are all garage doors lighted on the outside by at least a 40 watt light? Yes___No___  

How to Keep Burglars Out--Points to Remember

1. Garages--Should be as secure as any other area of the house because:  

  • They often contain ladders and tools which could be helpful to a burglar. 
  • Attached garages provide visual cover for a burglary. 

2. House Number--Should be clearly displayed front and back.  

3. Lights--Exterior flood lights (front and back) and over garage are recommended. Interior-timed lighting devices should be utilized when not at home.  

4. Basement Windows--Often overlooked by homeowners, basement windows should be secured to prevent forcing. Window locks should not be vulnerable if the glass is broken. Screening materials can be used effectively on these window wells or on window framing.  

5. Doors--Solid core wood doors with rugged frames that cannot spread apart with a pry bar are recommended.  

6. Door Locks--Quality dead bolt locks, having a minimum 1-inch throw, are recommended. These should be mounted so the door cannot be opened after breaking a window. Mounting the lock low on the door can sometimes eliminate this problem. In other cases, a double cylinder lock will solve the problem.  

7. Shrubs--Should be kept low enough so as not to block possible points of entry or to conceal a potential attacker.  

8. Windows--Glass is most vulnerable to attack. Fortunately, many burglars are reluctant to break windows because of noise and because windows are often visible from the street or from neighboring dwellings. Windows hidden from view must be most securely protected!

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