Are you unknowingly enticing potential thieves to damage your property or break into your home? While you want your home to be a welcoming environment for family and friends, you might be surprised how common habits might be inviting to criminals, too. According to the FBI, there were over nine million property crimes in the United States in 2010. This statistic includes vandalism, arson, larceny and theft. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for burglary and property damage with these easy-to-follow tips.

Make It a Point to Keep Everything Locked Up

While you probably lock your vehicle and the main points of entry into your home, you may overlook locking your fence gates, garage or garden shed from time to time. The Murfreesboro Police Department strongly encourages homeowners and renters to lock all doors, windows, and any point of entry to their property to deter theft. An unlocked gate allows a thief access to your backyard, away from the view of your neighbors. Once inside your yard, a thief has more freedom to peer through windows and patio doors. Access to garages and garden sheds also gives a thief more tools to use to break into your home. For example, a ladder in your backyard could make it much easier for a criminal to enter your home from the second story—where windows are more likely to be unlocked. Tools such as drills, hammers, and crowbars are also kept in many sheds and garages and can be used to break windows and open doors. Even if a thief is unable to get into your home, your backyard likely has valuable items such as a barbeque grill or bicycle.

Be Careful with Your Trash

Even what you throw away for curbside pickup can make you a target for theft, says the Murfreesboro TN Police Department. Perhaps you took advantage of Black Friday deals after Thanksgiving and scored a great price on a largeflat-screen television. After unpacking a television, gaming console, or computer, many people leave the boxes at the curb for recycling or trash pickup. Unfortunately, most packaging for expensive electronics shows pictures, brand names and specifications of the products in plain view. Placing boxes at the curb makes your home a target for thieves looking for electronics to steal. When unpacking electronics, break down the boxes and packaging instead and place them in black trash bags.

Maintain Your Home's Lawn and Landscape

Did you know that your landscape might entice property thieves? According to a presentation by the City of Mesa, Arizona Police Department, the way in which your home is landscaped and maintained affects your risk for theft. For example, large, untrimmed shrubs and bushes can give criminals a place to hide—especially at night. Be sure to keep hedges and bushes cut back so that the majority of your yard can be easily seen from a number of vantage points. On the other hand, shrubs and bushes can deter theft as well. Thieves are less likely to attempt to break into windows with landscaping underneath. Small bushes can provide an obstruction to otherwise easily accessible windows.

Light Up Your Property

Dark properties are alluring to those with malicious intent. Hiding under the cloak of darkness makes sneaking around someone's home much easier. The San Jose Police Department recommends keeping your home's exterior well illuminated with motion sensor lighting. This type of lighting can be found in hardware stores throughout the country. Because the lights are activated by movement, you don't have to worry about lights staying on night and day. If you choose to install motion sensor lights, make sure they illuminate your backyard, the sides of your property, and driveways or pathways. When installing this type of lighting, the higher the light is mounted the better, so that criminals cannot reach the bulbs to unscrew them.

Consider Using a Security Alarm

Security systems come with a variety of features to suit almost any budget. From basic systems that sound off loud alerts when an armed point of entry or window is breached to high-tech systems that allow for surveillance from a tablet or smart phone, there is likely a system that offers the best featuresfor your needs. Not only is the loud sound of a security alarm a major deterrent, many systems alert your local police department that your security has been compromised in some way. Furthermore, signage such as picket signs and window or door decals from your security system company can deter criminals as well. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies offer discounts for homes armed with security systems. Talk to your ReduceMyInsurance.Net independent insurance agent regarding home security discounts.

A ReduceMyInsurance.Net agent can help you find the best policy to protect your property, and even provide you with more helpful tips for preventing theft and vandalism.

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