Peak burglary season has arrived: Are you prepared’

It happens every summer. The weather turns warm. Families pack their suitcases, close up the house, and head out for vacation. And while they’re away, the family home becomes a potential target for a burglar looking for easy money. The number of burglaries rises dramatically twice each year, first during the July/August vacation season, and then again in November/December. The reason is simple: Folks just let their guard down. There is good news, however. Over the past 20 years, the number of house burglaries has been declining steadily, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. Even so, with approximately 3.6 million completed or attempted home burglaries in 1999, one burglary takes place every 11 seconds in the United States. The latest 1999 numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that 42 percent of all reported household burglaries occurred during the day and 32 percent at night. For the other 26 percent of all reported burglaries, the time was unknown. There are many steps a homeowner can take to protect their homes while they’re away. Most safety measures are simple, such as installing deadbolts on all outdoor doors and making sure all doors and windows are securely locked before leaving home. It’s also a good idea to let a trusted neighbor know you’ll be away, so someone can keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious around your house. For nighttime protection, adequate outdoor lighting is an important deterrent that will make your house less attractive to a burglar. However, with the price of electricity now rising, keeping outdoor floodlights on all night can be somewhat expensive. That’s why the Leviton Institute recommends the use of motion detectors. A motion detector is an inexpensive device that automatically turns on the lights it controls. When the device detects the presence of a person within its sensing range, it turns the lights on. After the person is no longer in its sensing range, it turns the lights off. You can give your home a “lived-in look” to deter burglars by using rotary timers to turn room lights, radios, and TVs on and off during the night. The lights don’t have to be on long, but you do want to have several lights going on and off at different times to make it appear that someone is moving about the house. For year-round convenience, the Leviton Institute recommends the use of electronic timers to control porch lights and landscape lighting. These devices allow you to program a variety of on and off sequences during the night. They are installed in the wall and replace regular wall switches. Security experts advise putting certain lights in your home on timers all year long, not just when you are away from home. This sets up a routine that your neighbors will recognize. The locations recommended are near your front and back windows. And keep the curtains drawn. Most home burglars are semiprofessional thieves or amateurs who may live in the neighborhood. They typically spend less than two minutes trying to get into a door or window before giving up and looking for an easier target. By setting up a good defense, with deadbolt locks, windows that lock securely, and good lighting, you can safeguard your home when you’re away. Where does a burglar enter the house’* 34% enter through the front door. 23% enter through a first-floor window. 22% enter through the back door. 9% enter through the garage. 12% enter through the basement, a storage area, or from the second floor.

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