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Many burglars will spend no more than 60 seconds attempting to break into a home. Make sure every external door has sturdy, well-installed deadbolt locks. Sliding glass doors offer easy access if not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or wooden dowel in the inside track to jam the door.

Never hide house keys under the door mat or a rock that is near your door. Most burglars know that trick. Instead give an extra key to a trusted neighbor. When you move to a new house or apartment, have a competent locksmith rekey the locks. All outside doors to your home should be metal or solid wood. Install a peephole in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door.

Don't use door chains; they break easily and don't keep intruders out. Prune back shrubbery and trees so that they don't obscure windows or doors. Install outdoor floodlights or motion-sensor lights to eliminate any areas where someone might hide. When you go out of town, give your house that " lived-in look " by putting a few of your light on timers. Also, stop your mail and newspaper delivery or have a trusted neighbor pick it up for you.

Don't leave anything, such as ladders or tools, lying around that can be used to break into your home. If you are a female and you live alone, don't advertise it by putting " Miss Jane Doe " on your doorbell or mailbox. Just put the initial of your first name and your last name, " J. Doe. " Mark all of your valuables with your license number.

Consider installing metal grills on windows, but make sure they are easily removed from the inside in case of fire or other emergency. Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your home while you are away. Write down and report to the police license numbers on vehicles used by suspicious persons in your neighborhood. Join a Neighborhood Watch Group. If one doesn't exist, start one with the help of your local law enforcement agency.