Residential Safety Tips

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Look at your home through a burglar’s eyes. Does it look like an easy target? Are there obvious security weaknesses? Common sense is all that is needed to identify most security weaknesses around your home. To supplement your survey, and for more complicated security problems, contact the Houston Police Department Community Services Division at (713) 308-3200 for a free home security survey. At your request, a Crime Prevention Officer will survey your home and provide security recommendations.

  • Shrubbery should not obscure doors and windows. Trim the growth so that a burglar cannot work undetected.
  • At night leave a few lights burning outside your home. Lights over doorways and garages and strategically placed floodlights will make your home less inviting to a burglar.
  • Windows and doors should be securely locked. Inadequate locks should be replaced or supplemented.
  • Make your home look occupied at all times.


Wooden exterior doors have either solid or hollow core construction. Solid core doors provide the greatest security. They are able to withstand attacks by burglars, and are best suited for installation of good locks.

If an exterior door contains a glass panel or is within (48) inches of a window, you should install a double-cylinder deadbolt lock which requires a key to unlock it from either side of the door. This lock will prevent a burglar from reaching inside to unlock the door after breaking the glass.

Doors which swing open to the outside have exposed hinges in easy reach of burglars. These doors can be secured by the “hinge pinning” technique:

  • Remove opposing screws from both sides of each hinge plate.
  • Insert a pin into the hole on the door frame, leaving a one inch protrusion.
  • Drill out opposing hole to fit pin when door is closed.


Make a habit of keeping garage doors closed and locked. An open garage door, with no car in sight, is a clear invitation to a burglar. Especially if the garage is used to store such items as bicycles, power mowers, garden tools, and other easily stolen property


are particularly vulnerable to attacks by burglars. The “pinning” technique mentioned above will prevent the lock from being forced or the door from being lifted from the track. Key operated pins or grips are a preferred method of securing sliding glass doors.

  • With door closed, drill hole (angle downward) through top and bottom corners of inner frame, partially into outer frame
  • Insert pin or nail


are another common entry point for burglars. Double-hung windows can be easily and inexpensively secured by using the “pinning” technique.

  • With windows closed, drill hole (angle downward) through top corners of inner frame, partially into outer frame
  • Insert pin or nail

Good security for windows is provided by key-operated window locks, especially when used as auxiliaries to conventional window locks


Many homes are equipped with spring-latch door locks. Most spring-latch locks can be pried open easily by even the most inept burglar. Crime prevention experts recommend deadbolt locks, to provide the security needed for exterior doors. The bolt on the lock should extend at least one inch into the door frame to provide adequate security. Other good security locks, such as the pry-resistant rim lock, are available. Ask your Crime Prevention Officer about the best locks for your home.

Additionally, when you move into a new home, or if you lose your house keys, contact a locksmith to re-key or change-out your locks. The change can be done quickly and fairly inexpensively. It also makes the old or lost keys useless. But most importantly, don’t forget to lock up. Even the best locks provide no protection if left unlocked. Securely lock your home even if you plan to be away for only a few minutes.


Most burglars are looking for unoccupied homes. If your home appears occupied, the burglar will usually look for other, more inviting sites.

  • When away from home, leave a radio playing.
  • Always leave a few inner lights burning at night. Automatic timers can be used to vary the on/off pattern of interior lights when you are away.
  • When leaving for an extended period, such as during a vacation, you should take several additional precautions:
  • Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home
  • Stop newspaper deliveries
  • Ask a neighbor to pick up your mail
  • If necessary, arrange for lawn care
  • Notify your local law enforcement agency that you plan to be away. Most agencies will schedule periodic checks of your home once having been alerted of your absence and of the need for extra attention.
safety tips


Common sense will help keep the burglar away. Be aware of the common methods which burglars use to gain entry, and make sure your entire family understands what to do in certain situations.

Warn family members to be cautious about giving out information over the telephone. Burglars sometimes call ahead to learn if anyone is home, who is home, or when residents are expected to return.

  • Do not indiscriminately open your home to strangers. A wide-angle door viewer or peephole installed in the front door will allow you to see who is outside without opening the door. Ask for positive identification from repairmen or solicitors who claim to have business inside your home. If you are suspicious about the caller, telephone his office for verification.
  • When you admit a repairman or salesman, do not leave him alone for even a few minutes. Don’t let a stranger inside your home to use the phone; make the call for him.
  • Don’t leave notes outside your home announcing your absence. Don’t leave any keys hidden outside your home.
  • Don’t leave your house keys with your car keys when you leave your car at a parking lot.
  • Don’t attach your name or license number to your house keys. Lost or stolen house keys which contain such information can be easily traced to your front door.
  • Never keep large sums of cash or easily stolen valuables, such as jewelry, unprotected in your home. Keep valuables you don’t often use in a safe deposit box.


Engrave your valuables with your driver’s license number. Marked property can be easily traced and identified as yours. Marked property is a proven burglary deterrent because it is difficult for a burglar to dispose of for resale. If a burglar is caught with marked property, it is solid evidence of possession of stolen goods.


Many communities have formed Neighborhood Watch groups to protect themselves from burglars. Through a Neighborhood Watch organization, neighbors agree to keep an eye on each other’s property and to report suspicious activities to the the Houston Police.