Home Safety & Security

Burglary Prevention Tips

  • Anyone living alone should use only their first initial and last name in the phone book and on the mailbox. Don't be tempted to list information about your children or your employment in any directory.
  • Don't leave keys hidden outside. They're too easily found.
  • If you suspect your home has been broken into, immediately call 9-1-1 from a neighbor's home. Don't go inside and risk confronting the burglar or destroying evidence.
  • Never allow a stranger into your home to use the phone—even if they claim it is an emergency. Speak to them through your locked door and offer to make the call for them.
  • Always check the I.D. of any repair people, contractors, sales representatives, police officers or other professionals who wish to come inside your home.
  • Report unusual, suspicious or obscene phone calls to the police and the phone company.
  • Instruct children and babysitters not to give out any information about who is home, who is out or for how long.
  • Always lock your doors, draw your shades at night and leave a few interior and exterior lights on. Timers are also a good idea.

Improving Home Security

House Number: House numbers on homes are important. They can save police officers, firefighters and paramedics valuable time when responding.

Fences: Burglars prey on privacy. Fences that allow activity to be seen in your yard are preferable to "privacy" fences.

Trees and Shrubbery: Keep trees and shrubs trimmed 6 inches below windows and at least 3 feet away from doors. Shrubbery such as rose bushes or other thorny varieties serve as a good deterrent to window peepers.

Landscape rock: Large landscape rock (golf ball size or larger) can be used to damage your property. Small landscape rock (smaller than golf ball size) is both decorative and allows someone walking on them to be easily heard.

Deadbolt locks: The deadbolt lock has a bolt that must be activated by a key or thumb turn. It offers good security because it is not spring activated and cannot be opened with a credit card.

Both single and double cylinder deadbolt locks should meet these criteria to be a good security device:

  • The bolt must extend a minimum of 1 inch and be made of case-hardened steel.
  • The cylinder guard must be tapered, round and free spinning to make it difficult to grip with a pliers or wrench. It must be solid metal – not hollow casting or stamped metal.
  • There should be at least a five-pin tumbler system or equivalent locking device.
  • The connecting screws that hold the lock together must be on the inside and made of case hardened steel. No exposed screw heads should be on the outside.
  • The connecting screws must be at least 1/4 inch in diameter and go into solid metal stock, not screw posts.

Strike plates: A heavy duty strike plate helps strengthen door frames better than a regular strike plate. (A strike plate is the jamb fastening that receives the deadbolt in the locking position.) The heavy duty plate uses four to six, 3-inch screws, not two, ¾-inch screws used in regular plates. The longer screws go through the frame into the jamb making it harder for someone to split the frame when kicking in the door. A heavy duty strike plate will strengthen the door jamb and reinforce the lock.


  • Motion detector lights are very effective in deterring crime. They also light up your driveway or entry doors when you are leaving or coming home.
  • Dusk to dawn lighting is a strong deterrent against criminal activity, and it constantly lights up your entry doors and possible obstacles that would otherwise be unseen.
  • Landscape lighting can highlight your property line, light up your sidewalk and also light up the exterior of your windows – making your home a less-attractive target to night time burglars.
  • Interior lighting using light timers makes a home look occupied. Good lights to leave on are bedroom and/or bathroom lights.
  • Radios and televisions are also good items to have on timers. If a radio playing a talk station is heard from the outside of a home, it gives the appearance that a conversation is being carried on and someone is home.

If You're Traveling…

  • Set an automatic timer for your lights.
  • Ask your neighbor to watch your home, shovel the walks, pick up newspapers, collect mail, and park in the driveway from time to time to make the house look lived in.
  • Be sure to keep any gifts that may be left in the house out of sight while you're gone.

If You're Out for the Evening… 

  • Turn on the lights and a radio or television so that it appears that someone is home.
  • Lock all doors and windows while you are out, even if just a few minutes.
  • Do not place packages or gifts near windows or in other high-visibility sites.

If You're Shopping…

  • Don't let your guard down just because you are rushing.
  • Stay alert and be aware of everything around you at all times. Report suspicious activity by calling 9-1-1. The police need your eyes and ears to assist them.
  • Park in well-lighted spaces and as close to the store as possible, lock your car doors, and hide packages in the trunk or under the seat. Be certain to hide items each time you return to the car.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash, pay with a check or credit card if possible. Tell the clerk to check your I.D. if they do not ask for it. Don't discard your receipts until you get home. Thieves like to collect receipts and use them to return items that were stolen from a store.
  • Carry your purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket. Don't leave your purse in a cart and walk away. Fanny packs are great for shopping.
  • If you take your children shopping, teach them to go to a police officer or a store security guard if they get separated or lost.

If You're at Home…

  • Turn on outside lights to deter burglars.
  • Report any suspicious behavior to the police or local community watch groups.
  • Make sure your homeowners (or renters) insurance is up-to-date and everything is inventoried properly.
  • Get to know your neighbors… join or start your own neighborhood watch today. For more information contact the Burnsville Police Department.

If a Stranger comes to the Door…

  • Stay alert to suspicious-looking couriers delivering packages to you or your neighbors.
  • Many con artists take advantage of holiday generosity by going door-to-door. Ask for identification and get specifics to how and where the donations will be spent/used.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, just say "no thank you" and shut the door.