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In the U. S., more than 65,000 homes a year are burglarized. Personal possessions are rifled and destroyed and valuables are stolen. After a burglary, victims often feel unsafe in their own homes. You can protect yourself from the devastation of this invasion by making simple changes in your lifestyle and your home.

Outside your home, plant spiny or prickly shrubs under your windows. Install motion detector lighting in doorways and on the garage. Don’t hide house keys outside. Don’t leave ladders available in the yard or leaned against the house. Don’t let mail pile up in your mailbox or leave other signs that you are not at home. Don’t leave notes on the door indicating that you are not at home.

Keep your garage door closed and be sure to set a different code on your garage door opener than what is set by the manufacturer. Never leave your garage door opener visible in your car.

If you can’t afford an alarm or an alarm service, you can still post a sticker in a prominent window warning that you do have an alarm service. There’s no need to be honest with potential burglars.

Protect patio doors with special locks available at the hardware store or cut a 2’x4’ board to fit into the track. Put it in place every night and when you will be away during the day.

Pull drapes and shades at night. Leaving them open is like being on a lighted stage in a dark theater, you and your belongings are clearly visible. Leave a light burning through the night.

Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and have the locks changed in a new home. Be very cautious with keys. Never leave house keys with parking attendants, mechanics or anyone else. Always lock your doors and windows when you leave the house, or are out of earshot of the door.

Never let strangers into your home. Don’t show people you don’t know well around your house. Never give out your address to strangers or give your phone number to people you don’t know. If you get a wrong number phone call, don’t tell the caller your phone number. Ask the phone company not to publish your address in the phone book.

Be wary of strangers in the neighborhood. Watch for strange cars. Join a neighborhood watch program and post a sticker in your window.

If you think your home has been burglarized, don’t go in. If you are in the house before you discover things are amiss, leave immediately. Go to a neighbor’s home or a public phone and call the police. Do not stay in the house or go in the house until the police have checked it out for you. Never take chances on this as the burglar may still be in the house.

A little caution and common sense will help protect you from being burglarized. Don’t take chances, be prepared.