Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



How to Help Prevent Burglaries to
 Homes and Apartments

The Basic Rule: Lock Your Doors and Windows

     Here are numerous tips about preventing crimes against your place of residence. Some interesting facts to keep in mind: Burglary is a very frequent crime. Many crimes occur in the daytime. Juveniles commit many of them. Burglars come from every economic, social, educational and racial background. Burglars will dress to suit the area they are planning to burglarize many times. Daylight burglars like rainy or stormy days. The home with no outside lighting at night or with easy access is more likely to be burglarized.

  • Always install new locks in a home or apartment when moving in, even if it is a newly built home. Never use locks someone else has had a key to. This means back, side and front doors.


  • Never leave an extra key to the house in the mailbox, under doormats, over door frames or anywhere else-they are easily found.


  • Don't give your key to anyone except the people living inside the home or apartment.


  • Install a small "peephole" in the front and back door and use it to look before you open a door for someone, whether it is nighttime or daytime.


  • When answering the door, ask to see proper identification; if the person is a salesman, solicitor, repairman or utility company representative, he or she will have proper identification.


  • Lighting


    • Outside: light up the side of the house, back and front and garage area with nightlights; few homes with such lighting are ever "hit".
    • Inside: leave at least one light on (plus a bathroom light); do not pull the shades or curtains when not at home.


  • When not at home: don't leave a note saying when you will return and make sure you close the garage door when leaving (lock it too).


  • Put your address numbers on the back entrance way as well as the front.


  • Locks


    • Do not use the spring-snap locks; they are opened very easily and practically without any sound.
    • Do not buy any cheap locks- they are hardly worth the risk.
    • Use dead-bolt locks (especially the ones that require a key); or use sliding barrel locks; use crossbars and hasp locks on garage, cellar and other such doors.
    • Check your door hinges . . . if the pins are on the outside, change them to the inside (or to non-removable ones) to prevent a burglar from removing them to open the door and get in.
    • Make sure locks are away from windows (to prevent the window from being smashed and the burglar reaching in to unlock it).
    • Use chain locks as an added precaution on all entries.
    • Remember: it does little good to have good locks on the front door and poor locks elsewhere.
    • Don't put your name or address on the key case you carry; if lost or stolen, change locks regardless of whether you had your name or address inside the case.


  • Strong door frames and window frames: it does little good to attach good locks to door frames or window frames when the frames are weak, rotted or defective. Make sure your frames are solid and as strong as the locks and hinges. Your landlord (if you rent) is responsible for having good locks and good door and window frames.


  • Cellar windows: are many times left open and are an easy place to enter a home or apartment building. Close and lock them at all times!


  • Windows: not only should every window have a lock on it (the best is a key lock), but it should have an additional lock that prevents it from being lifted higher than four inches.


  • Apartments: renters should never allow their apartment to be on a "master key" arrangement; ask about this and change your lock if the landlord will not.


  • Cellar doorway: make sure the door to any other part of the apartment building or to the basement, garage or fire escape is adequately locked just as solidly and securely as the front door.


  • Do not leave ladders outside the house; they are perfect devices for entry.


  • Do not leave rugs, wash or tools and other items outside the home overnight.


  • Keep the shrubbery trimmed away from windows and keep it trimmed to a low height; they are excellent places for someone to hide and not be seen when burglarizing.


  • Sliding doors are used frequently by burglars to enter. There should be two locks on such doors . . . plus put a sliding board or broom handle braced inside the track to prevent the door from opening from the outside.


  • Padlock your garage (it is a good entry point for burglars).


  • Constantly check your locks (especially ones at doors and windows you do not use often); if any have been tampered with, replace immediately and report it to the police.


  • Remember: a barking dog at night is a signal someone may be prowling.


  • Be sure, at night as well as daytime, that yard gates and other such locations are closed; many burglars prefer a place where very easy access is provided-opening and closing a gate takes time, attracts attention, makes noise, etc.


  • Train children not to open the door to strangers at anytime.


  • Consider having a dog in the house; they are excellent noise makers and burglars avoid them for many reasons.


  • Always keep the door locked even when you are in the house; because you are there does not mean someone would not come in anyway.


  • Windows with air conditioners: a favorite point of entry for burglars. Nail or screw the window in place. This prevents the window from being opened and prevents the air conditioner from being stolen.


  • Locks for mailboxes: a must for home and apartment; it is too easy to steal your mail. Get a U.S. Post Office approved lock.


  • Do not keep stocks, bonds, coin collections and such in your home; put them in a safe deposit box at the local bank.


  • Mark expensive clothing and furs with indelible ink, showing your driver's license number or some other identifiable mark.


  • Use the police engraver to engrave your driver's license number or some other such identifiable mark on all valuables (silver, TV, radio, stereo, clocks, guns, cameras, projectors, watches, typewriters, small and large appliances, paintings and other items) to aid in their recovery if stolen and help police trace the items to the burglar.


  • For items that cannot be engraved, write down their descriptions and keep in a safe place. Use this to identify stolen items and it will allow you to recover them if stolen. (If you cannot prove an item is yours, you cannot receive it even if police have recovered it).


  • Never allow anyone to talk you into "buying" back something stolen from your home. Report such an offer to police promptly and follow their instructions on the matter.


  • Aside from locking the garage, never leave the key to the car or anything else in the car or garage.


  • When working in the back yard, don't leave the front door unlocked. Or if running next door for a minute, don't leave the house open and doors unlocked . . . many thefts and burglaries occur this way without the owner or renter knowing it.


  • Glass: use break-resistant glass at every window possible, especially in doors; remember also to nail or screw shut any unused windows and check around the house or apartment at all heights to make sure rarely used windows or possible points of entry (such as a skylight, ventilator, air conditioner, window, etc.) are also secured with nail, screw or lock. Burglars do not like to "work" to get into a place-they like the easy places.


  • Do not install a "doggie door" in any of your doors leading to the outside or into the garage; they can become "burglar doors" too.


  • Report too many "wrong number" calls you receive from telephone callers to the police and telephone company; it could be a burglar trying to determine if anyone is at home. Back to top

For more information, contact the Office of 
State Senator Vincent J. Fumo

1208 Tasker Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 468-3866
2637 East Clearfield Street
Philadelphia, PA 19134
(215) 423-7670
Senate Box 203001
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3001
(717) 787-5661


Copyright 1996 by State Senator Vincent J. Fumo. Copyright is not claimed as to part of the original work prepared by an employee of the Senate of Pennsylvania, or Commonwealth governmental officer or employee as part of that person's official duties. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be copied, downloaded, stored, disseminated, transferred, or used, in any forms or by an means, except with State Senator Vincent J. Fumo's prior written permission.


Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo