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Easy tips to ward off break-ins

(Aug. 2012) — The thought of someone breaking into your house is one of the scariest prospects a homeowner can face. After all, your home is not only your most valuable asset containing some of your most cherished items, it’s also where you live.

According to FBI statistics, a home is broken into once every 11 seconds. More than half of all break-ins occur during broad daylight, when many people are away at school, work or shopping. While often times break-ins will happen no matter what steps a homeowner takes, some home robberies are made easier because of poor home security.

It doesn't take an expensive security system to improve your home security. Following a few cost-effective, common sense home security tips can greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to home burglary.

Look like you're home by setting your lights, television and radio on a timer. The more random activity going on in the house, the less likely burglars are to target it for a possible robbery. A good timer can be purchased at most electronics stores. If you are going to be out of town for several days, contact the post office and newspaper to have your delivery suspended. This way, mail won't pile up - a dead giveaway no one is home.

Contact the police and tell them the dates for which you will be out of town. Many law enforcement agencies have a "vacant house" list. When patrolling, officers keep a closer eye on these addresses to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

Even if you're just going to be gone for a short while, you can take several easy measures to secure your house.

Always lock doors and windows. It seems like common sense, but many people forget or overlook this step.

Trim bushes and shrubs, especially near windows and doors, to reduce the number of places an intruder can gain access to the house unnoticed.

Keep valuables and electronics like laptop computers, mp3 players and digital cameras out of the line of sight from windows or glass-paned doors. Thieves are more likely to break in if they can easily see valuables.

Get a home security system and prominently display proof of the system with a sticker or lawn sign. Convicted burglars say they tend to bypass houses with visible proof of a security system in favor of dwellings without an alarm system.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam.