Neighborhood Watch Program

Barriers to Burglary

Burglary is a crime of opportunity. Make their work risky and difficult, and you stand a good chance of stopping them before they get it.

Your First Line of Defense

To a burglar visibility means vulnerability. They hide behind fences and shrubbery. The key is to keep trespassers out while keeping your property visible. Use picket or chain link fences. Keep hedges clipped down around waist level.

On the Outside Looking in

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The strongest are deadbolt locks with a minimum 1-inch throw bolt containing a hardened, saw-resistant steel insert. Attach the strike plate to the door frame with 4-inch screws. The double cylinder deadbolt lack requires a key from both sides, preventing a burglar from breaking glass in the door and turning the knob from the inside. Make sure the cylinder of the lock has a steel guard - a ring around the key section. The cylinder guard should be tapered or it should rotate around the key section to prevent wrenching. Remember, though a double cylinder dead-bolt can also block your exit in an emergency. Check with your law enforcement agency's to see if these locks are permitted in your area.


Doors that swing out have hinges on the outside. A burglar can easily remove the hinge pins and lift the door out. To foil this, remove the center screw from each side of the hinge and insert a metal pin or headless screw on one side. When the door is closed, the end of the pin will fill into the opposite hole. Thus, even if the pins are removed the door will remain bolted to the frame.


Overhead doors, receiving doors, garage doors- all are typically secured with padlocks and hasps. Look for sturdy padlocks that don't release the key until the padlock is closed. The padlock should be case-hardened with a 3/8-inch shackle to resist repeated smashing. Remember, a padlock is only as good as the hasps on which it is mounted; so bolt hasps securely to a metal plate, and make sure the bolts are concealed when the padlock is closed.


Protect windows by putting grates, grill work, or bars over them, or cover the glass on the inside with a clear polycarbonate sheet. The sheet should extend 1.5-inch beyond the perimeter of the glass and be bolted to the door. Space the bolts approximately every 3 inches. Unbreakable safety glass is also available, but it is more expensive.

Other Entrances

Skylights, ventilation ducts, and fire escapes tempt burglars because these openings usually are not visible from the street. Protect skylights and ducts with metal grates and iron bars. The first stair of a fire escape should be equipped with emergency exit features: Window guards should be removable or hinged to allow for an emergency.

Key Control

Because any key gives way to a key, practice good key control:

  • Label keys with a code indication back door, receiving door, display case, etc.
  • Engrave " Do Not Duplicate" on all keys.
  • Restrict key-access to the most trusted: Maintain a log to record key removal and returns.
  • Consider having locks re-keyed when a key you've given out is lost.


Light is a great crime deterrent. In fact, some states have minimum standards for exterior lighting. Light up all dark areas, especially doors and windows. If your home is in a poorly lit area consider adding low cost lighting.


Before you invest in an alarm system, weight the cost against your need. How valuable is your property? How great is your risk? After installing an alarm, let burglars know by putting warning signs in windows and entrances.

Every alarm should include:

  • A fail-safe battery backup
  • Fire-sensing capability
  • A feedback device to check the system

For an expert appraisal of your security needs, ask for a premise security survey by your local law enforcement agency, or check with a reputable security consultant.

Operation Identification

Mark your property with your Drivers License number, then put Operation I.D. decals (obtained from your local law enforcement agency) on all windows and doors to warn burglars that your property can be traced.


Locks and alarms can't prevent a burglar unless they're in use. Establish a routine for closing up, locking doors and windows, setting up the alarm.

If a Burglar Breaks in

Your best protection against an intruder is visibility. Well-lit open spaces motion sensitive lights, low hedges, chain link fences, etc., keep the burglar in the spotlight.

If You Suspect a Burglar

If you suspect a burglar or that a burglary has happened:

  • Don't go in - the burglar may still be inside.
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Go some where safe (a neighbor) until help arrives.