10 Things a burglar doesn't want you to know.
1. It's a Jungle Out There
You're justly proud of your rhododendrons and other thick shrubs that lend curb appeal. Unfortunately, lush hedges can provide cover for a burglar jimmying his way in. Nearby trees, too, can be used by a second-story man if the branches are by your windows. Keep vegetation trimmed low, and consider installing thorny plants close to the house to thwart thieves.
2. Mirror, Mirror in the Hall
A mirror in the entryway lets you assess your look before heading out the door. But check its position from your front windows. Can you see the reflection of your alarm system? If so, would-be intruders can too-and they'll know at a glance if you neglected to arm it when you dashed out on an errand.
3. Bowling for Dollars
Here's another entryway no-no: that bowl or basket where everyone tosses keys, wallets, phones, and the like. Sure, you'll know where they are-but so will a burglar. The best place for car keys is beside your bed. If you wake up to noises that sound like someone breaking in, hit the alarm on the fob to scare the scoundrel away.
4. Now, This Is Key!
No one likes to get locked out, but a spare key stashed under a rock or above the door frame is bound to be discovered. Even the dumbest bad guy learns where homeowners store that extra set, so exchange yours with a neighbor you trust in case of emergency.
5. A Pane in the Butt
The sound of breaking glass doesn't provide much of a deterrent to burglars, but if your window security is lax, they can come and go without ever making a sound. Criminals often find a way into your home prior to breaking in-as part of a cleaning or repair crew, say, simply unlock a back window for easy access later. So, routinely check windows to make sure they're latched. Easy-to-access basement windows can be barred with a metal grate. Remember, too, that curtains or shades keep big-ticket items hidden; if a crook can't see your goodies, he's likely to try a house that has them on display.
6. Back to Business
You might keep the deadbolt locked on the front door at all times, but what about the back door off the patio? Or maybe you leave the garage door wide open during the afternoons? Be as conscientious about your less-used entrances as you are with your main one.
7. Victoria's Not-So-Secret
You think hiding valuables among your unmentionables is a good idea-and so do thieves. Ditto for your nightstand and underneath the mattress. Smarter stashing places for jewelry, cash, and other small precious items include the attic, basement, kids' rooms, kitchen pantry, or even the broom closet.
8. Think Outside the Box
To keep on enjoying that brand-new flat-screen TV, computer, or gaming system, discard the packaging properly. Cut it up into small sections, and stack the pieces to obscure what came inside from passersby. Better yet, keep cut-up cartons in a covered bin or inside the house until the morning of recycling pickup.
9. Friends, Followers, and Fiends
When you're out of town, you have a neighbor pick up your mail or have it stopped and also stop newspaper delivery so thieves won't see them piling up-but then you blab your far-off whereabouts all over social media! All a burglar has to do is look up your address, then leisurely help himself, knowing you won't be back from Cancun until Sunday. And when it comes to geo-tracking apps like Foursquare and Glympse, share your comings and goings only with people you trust.
10. On Guard in the Garden
An enterprising crook will stack patio furniture, then scale it to get into an upstairs window. If you leave your ladder lying around, you make it even easier for him. Garden tools belong in a locked container, lest the local baddie uses them to break in. To be extra careful (and crafty!), coat metal drainpipes with petroleum jelly or clear automotive grease to make them shimmy-resistant.