Family & Living

November, 02, 2005 - 02:47 PM / ET

Prevent Holiday Theft: Make a List, Check It Twice

Keep your home and possessions safe during the Christmas season.

--(HISPANIC PR WIRE – CONTEXTO LATINO)--Winter holidays only happen once a year, but crime never takes a vacation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that over two million burglaries occur each year, costing consumers over three billion dollars annually. Furthermore, the FBI reports that many of these burglaries are avoidable: nine out of ten could have been prevented if homeowners had burglarproofed their homes by taking a few simple precautions.

"This time of year, everyone seems to be busy making lists for holiday cards and presents to buy for loved ones. Creating another type of list, a Home Safety checklist can help you evaluate the security of your home and possibly even prevent your property from being a target," says Bill Mullaney, president of claims and customer service for MetLife Auto & Home. "Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a house, a burglar will go elsewhere."

Some important items to check on the list:

-- Make it difficult for burglars to approach the house without being seen. Most burglaries occur during daytime hours, when many property owners are at work. Make it difficult to approach your house without being seen. Enclose your property with a picket or chain link fence, rather than a solid fence, and keep hedges clipped down around waist level.

-- Don't hide keys in secret places outside your home. Burglars know where to look. Instead, leave a duplicate key with a neighbor, at your office, or with a relative.

-- Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective ones notify an outside service, but any kind is a good deterrent.

-- Install good quality deadbolt locks on all exterior doors and any doors from attached garages. When you leave your house, or retire for the evening, make sure you lock all your doors.

-- Move your computers and stereo systems out of view from windows and doors. Expensive equipment in full view makes your property an open invitation for criminals.

-- If you're traveling, make certain your house looks lived in. Have your driveway shoveled while you are away, or your lawn mowed if you live in a warmer climate. Also, stop delivery with your newspaper service and have a neighbor collect your mail.

MetLife Auto & Home offers the public another type of list: a free Personal Property Inventory brochure to help keep careful track of your valuables. A property inventory is invaluable in the event that your home is burglarized, since trying to remember the property you own after the fact can be a difficult task. The inventory is in English and in Spanish and is available to anyone by calling (866) MET-VIDA (1-866-638-8432).

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