By: Joseph D'Agnese
Published: November 12, 2010
Conduct a do-it-yourself home security check by walking around your house to assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in.
A professionally installed and monitored home security system (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-security-system-installation-how-they-work/) is a nice addition to your home's defenses, but it shouldn't be step one. First, conduct your own home security check. After you've inspected your home's doors and windows (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/do-it-yourself-home-security-windows-may-leave-you-vulnerable/), make sure these essential steps are covered:
Keep your home well-maintained on the outside
Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that's obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window. To improve security, trim shrubs away from windows and widen front walks.
Install motion detector lights
All sides of your house should be well-lit with motion-activated lighting, not just the front. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50 each, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place.
Store your valuables
Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that's where you're likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns.
Tour each room and ask yourself: is there anything here that I can move to a safe deposit box? Installing a home safe ($150 to $500) that's bolted to your basement slab is a good repository for items you don't use on a daily basis.
Secure your data
While you probably won't be putting your home computer in a safe anytime soon, take steps to back up the personal information (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-office-security-check/) stored on it. Password protect your login screen, and always shut off your computer (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/tips-for-savings-energy-in-home-office/) when not in use (you'll save energy, too!) Don't overlook irreplaceable items whose value may hard to quantify, like digital photos.
Prepare ahead of time in case the worst happens
- Take a photo or video inventory (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-inventory-tools/) of items of value in your home, and store the file online or in your home safe.
- Check that you're properly insured for theft (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-time-for-annual-check-up/). Note that high-ticket items in your home office, such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy.
He lives in North Carolina.