Burglary Secrets: Making your home less attractive to thieves

6:49 PM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
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One minute. 5 minutes. 14 seconds. When it comes to home theft protection, these are the numbers you need to know.

On average, it takes just one minute for a burglar to break into your home. They get everything they need in just 5 minutes. And a break-in occurs every 14 seconds in the U.S.

The victims come from low-income, middle-income and even upper-income neighborhoods. But they all share one thing in common. Something about their homes stood out to crooks and made them vulnerable.

Are you making the same mistakes too?

Take the Burglary Secrets quiz here 

We met up with Police Capt. Guy Turner of the Westlake Police Department to find out why burglars might target one home but avoid another. He took us to a vacant home that has been broken into twice.

Security mistakes at the vacant home are also repeated at occupied homes all over Northeast Ohio.

"The first thing you want to do is make it look like you are home," Captain Turner told Maureen Kyle.

He's a huge fan of leaving outside lights on at all times. This improves your chances of someone spotting someone at your door, or walking around the side of your home.

Motion detector lights, out of reach, are a huge plus as well. "You are creating the chance for someone passing by to say 'What's that guy doing at my neighbor's front door?" Turner says.

Inside noise will keep burglars outside. Turn a radio or television on. Most burglaries occur during the day when robbers think you aren't home. A security system or even a security sign are deterrents.

Turner says a barking dog is also a great security measure. "It doesn't have to be a big dog. It has to be a yappy dog," according to Turner.

Your front door might be making you a target. Recessed doorways offer more seclusion for robbers.

That's another reason why good lighting is a must. Keep hedges in check. These are another great hiding spot for burglars.

Making burglars think you are home is one step. But Turner says that's not all.

"The second thing, you want to do is slow them down," he says. It takes, on average, 1 minute for a burglar to get into your home. By slowing them down, you improve your chances that they'll move on to another home.

Glass doors offer easy access to burglars, especially if your glass is single pane. Replacing it is the best option, but not without significant cost.

A more economical fix is installing a deadbolt lock that's keyed on both sides. Sliding glass doors are also targets. A dowel, or cut-down broom stick make sliding glass doors and windows much more secure.

Turner says never hide keys on the outside of your home. Burglars know all the great hiding spots too. It's better to leave an extra set of keys with a trusted neighbor.

He also shared this important warning: If someone knocks on your door, seems surprised when you answer and asks for someone who doesn't live there, that's someone casing your home.

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