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Your home could be a target for thieves

Monday - 9/26/2011, 6:41am  ET

Don't rely on yor dog to scare away thieves. Dogs can be swayed by weapons or burglars wielding treats. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - It's very important to lock your doors and windows when you're away from home.

But it may be what you're forgetting to do that's making your home a target for thieves.

According to recent statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a home is robbed every 14.6 seconds and the average dollar loss per burglary is $2,119.

Consumer Reports has gathered a list of five things to avoid:

  • Posting vacation photos on Facebook. Burglars troll social media sites looking for targets. Instead: Wait until you get back before sharing vacation details or make sure your security settings only allow trusted "friends" to see what you're up to.
  • Leaving your garage door open or unlocked. Once inside the garage, a burglar can use any tools you haven't locked away to break into your home, out of sight of the neighbors. Interior doors between the garage and your home often aren't as strong as exterior doors and may not have deadbolt locks. Instead: Always close and lock the garage door. Consider getting a garage-door opener with random codes that automatically reset.
  • Hiding spare keys. Burglars know about fake rocks and leprechaun statues and will check under doormats, in mailboxes, and over doorways. Instead: Give a spare set to a neighbor or family member.
  • Storing ladders outdoors or in unlocked sheds. Burglars can use them to reach the roof and unprotected upper floor windows. Instead: Keep ladders under lock and key.
  • Relying on silent alarm systems. Everyone hates noisy alarms, especially burglars. Smart thieves know that it can take as long as 10 to 20 minutes for the alarm company or cops to show up after an alarm has been tripped. Instead: Have both silent and audible alarms.

Also, don't rely on your dog to scare away thieves. The barking may scare off first time burglars, but the more experienced ones know dogs may back away when someone is wielding a weapon or get friendly if offered a treat laced with a tranquilizer

And, don't keep your house in the dark. Replace burned out bulbs in outside lighting or to add lighting where needed. Poor lighting creates shadows where burglars can work undetected

WTOP's Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)