More homes are burglarized during the summer than any other time of year. Why? Because thieves look for homes left empty during vacation. FBI statistics show that a break-in happens every 15 seconds in the summer, but with the tough economy, that number is rising. In fact, home burglaries are up 6%. So here’s how to keep your home safe, courtesy of Money magazine:

  • 80% of burglars enter through doors and windows, which are often left unlocked. Even when the doors are locked, most homes have sturdy front doors, but back doors are often made from hollow material that can shatter easily. That’s why police SWAT teams usually try the back door when they need to break into a building. So, get sturdy doors and locks on all entrances.
  • Turn down the ringer on your phone and answering machine. That way, burglars won't hear your phone ringing off the hook, or a friend leaving a message, “Call me when you get back from Rome!”
  • Also, installing an alarm will reduce your break-in risk by two-thirds. You can stop most thieves with a basic system that covers every exterior door and includes a few motion detectors. It’ll cost between $1,500 and $2,000, but get price quotes from at least three companies. Be sure to turn on your alarm, even if you’re just running to the 7-Eleven. A study by Temple University found that 41% of home alarms weren’t activated during a burglary.  
  • Add a monitoring service that sends the police when your alarm is tripped. They cost about $40 a month, with another $20 for cellular backup, so the distress signal will go through even if your phone line is cut.  
  • Finally, because the installer will know how to bypass your system, make sure they’re skilled and honest. So, get referrals from friends, neighbors and trusted tradesmen, and make sure they’re members of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. The website is Alarm.org.