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Burglary Prevention

The Memphis Police Department offers some tips to keep your home safe from the threat of burglars:

  • Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break in.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for any length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to collect them regularly.
  • Arrange for your lawn to be mowed if you are going away for an extended period of time.
  • Check locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices if necessary.
  • Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available locks. Use a rigid wooden dowel in the track or a nail inserted through a hole drilled in the sliding door frame and projecting into the fixed frame.
  • Other windows may need better locks. Check with a locksmith or hardware store for alternatives.

Don't Tempt a Thief

  • Keep lawn mowers, snow blowers, barbecues and bicycles stored out of sight.
  • Always lock your garden sheds and garages.
  • Use curtains on garage and basement windows.
  • Never leave notes on your door such as "Gone shopping."

Get the Best Locks

  • No lock, regardless of its quality, can be truly effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide maximum security. Ask a locksmith for advice on your situation.
  • Change locks immediately if your keys are lost or stolen.
  • Have all locks changed when moving into a new home.
  • Locks lose their effectiveness if they are installed in flimsy or weak doors. Make sure outside doors are solid, at least 1 3/4 inch metal or hard wood. Doors should fit tightly in their frames and hinges should be on the inside. Double check the door between your house and garage because that is a common entry spot for thieves.
  • Install a peephole or wide-angle viewer in all entry doors so you can see who is outside without opening the door. A short chain between the doors and the jamb is not a good substitute because it can be broken easily.

Targeting the Outside

  • Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light is recommended for backyards.
  • Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders.
  • Make sure your door hinges are on the inside of the door.
  • Keep your yard well maintained. Store ladders and tools inside the garage or basement when not in use.
  • All entrances and porches should be well lit.


  • Most windows can be pinned for security.
  • Drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame. Place a nail in the hole to secure the window. Make sure there are still exits in case of an emergency.


  • An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners, especially while on vacation. There are a wide variety of alarm systems on the market.
  • Make several inquiries to different companies for the best security system available to you.
  • Alarms are a good barrier for protection, but don’t get too complacent. Never give out your pin number and don’t choose an obvious code.

If Your Home Is Broken Into
If you come home to find an unexplained open or broken window or door:

  • Do not enter; the perpetrator may still be inside.
  • Use a neighbor's phone to call the police.
  • Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.
  • Write down the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles.
  • Note the descriptions of any suspicious persons.

Other Precautions You Should Take

  • Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other "secret" hiding places; burglars know where to look for hidden keys.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of your valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase, original value and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home. Make a photographic or video record of valuable objects, heirlooms and antiques. Your insurance company can provide assistance in making and keeping your inventory. Update the inventory regularly.
  • Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce cover for burglars.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 911 immediately.
  • Mark your valuables with your driver's license number by using an engraver you can borrow from your precinct. Marked items are harder for a burglar to dispose of and easier for police to recover.
  • Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. Your police department can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.

The Memphis Police Department Crime Prevention Unit can be reached at (901) 774-6705. Contact information for other law enforcement organizations is:

  • Bartlett Police – (901) 385-5558
  • Collierville Police – (901) 853-3207
  • Germantown Police – (901) 754-7222
  • Memphis Police – (901) 872-3340
  • Millington Police – (901) 872-3333
  • Shelby County Sheriff – (901) 545-2627

This information was complied from the Memphis Police Department Web site and the National Association of Home Builders.

Alarm Systems

For greater peace of mind, consider investing in a professionally installed alarm system. Alarm systems come in many shapes and sizes, at prices that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Many installers also charge monthly monitoring fees, which should be taken into account when you shop for a system. A home alarm system includes some combination of the following components:

Perimeter sensors. These consist of photo cells or magnetic contacts on doors and windows that sound an alarm when an intruder tries to get inside. Perimeter sensors are mounted on two points, such as the doorjamb and the door itself. Photo cell sensors are activated when something passes through a beam of light projected between the two points, while magnetic sensors are activated when contact is broken between the two magnetized points.

Heat and motion sensors. You can use heat and motion detectors to protect specific spaces in or outside your home – a bedroom hallway, for instance, or your backyard. Heat detectors respond to body temperatures. Motion sensors detect movement.

Glass break detectors. These devices recognize the sound of breaking glass. They activate the alarm when they sense breaking glass in a window or door.

Audible alarm. A piercing alarm alerts neighbors and the police. And also lets the burglar know he has been detected, meaning he'll probably leave your house in a hurry.

Keep in mind that false alarms can be a problem. In addition to annoying the neighbors and taking the police away from real emergencies, some communities now assess fines for excessive false alarms. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association reports that nearly 80 percent of false alarms are caused by user error. Steps to prevent false alarms include regular system maintenance and ensuring that whoever has a key to your house also knows the codes to activate and deactivate your system.

Local police are a good source of information and recommendations regarding security systems. They work with the security services in your area and can tell you what types of break-ins are most common in your community. Contact the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association for names of members by visiting

After you have determined which alarm system is best for you, ask your insurance agent, family or friends for referrals. Get written quotes from at least three companies. Before you obtain an alarm system, investigate a security service's reputation and how long it has been in business. Also ask about warranties and what they cover.

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