More than 3.5 million burglaries occur each year in the United States, and in more than 1 million of those, a household member was present at the time. Statistics like these can make homeowners feel vulnerable—maybe their home will be next! Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to beef up your home’s security and prevent break-ins.

1.)Keep Big-Ticket Items a Secret

Did you recently buy a new flat-screen TV or fancy computer? If you just drop the empty cartons by the curb, thieves will know that you have expensive electronics for the taking. Instead, break down the boxes and bag them up until trash or recycling pickup, or cart them off to the dump so your pricier purchases remain a secret to passersby.

2.) Close the garage door.

An open garage door is more than just an open invitation to thieves who may want your bicycles, tools, and lawn-care equipment. If you have an attached garage, that open door can also grant them access to your house. Make it a point to close the garage door each time you enter or exit the house. If you frequently forget to do this, consider getting an automatic garage door closer, or opt for a smart garage door that can be controlled from your smartphone and can even remind you when the door is open.

3.) Don’t Let Things Lie.

According to statistics from the Burglary Prevention Council, 34 percent of burglars gain entry through the front door, and if that front door is standing ajar, with keys, phones, and other valuables in plain view, you’re only giving them more reasons to head inside and grab the goodies. Whether you’re checking the mail or carrying in the groceries, keep small valuables in your hand or on your person while the front door is open, even if the storm door is closed.

4.) Update Doors and Locks.

Believe it or not, one of the most common ways burglars break into a home is to kick open the door. Make it harder for burglars by replacing hollow-core exterior doors with solid wood or metal doors and installing a deadbolt with a bolt length (also known as a throw) of at least one inch.

5.) Use Multiple Locks.

Make it harder for savvy burglars to intrude by installing multiple locks on your entry doors. You should have a minimum of two locks at main entryways, but this could mean either two locks on a single door or a single lock on one door coupled with a locking storm door.

6.) Put in Window Air Conditioners.

Give intruders the cold shoulder while you maintain comfortably cool indoor temperatures by installing window air-conditioning units in the front or back of your house. The AC units will help block entry into the home through first-floor windows, a popular intruder entry point that accounts for 23 percent of home burglaries, according to the Burglary Prevention Council.

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