Lazy days of summer not so lazy for thieves

HOUSTON More homes are broken into during summer than any other season, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. But, Consumer Reports Magazine says there are some simple things you can do to beef up your home's security, and you can do it without spending a lot of money.

When Marti Schoenberg was away on vacation last summer, a brazen thief broke into her house and used her own keys to steal her car.

"Most people walk into their home, they throw their keys on some surface inside their home, right?" Schoenberg said. "Frequently, I also didn't lock my inside garage door."

Consumer Reports Magazine says forgetting to lock that inside door and leaving valuables in plain sight makes your home more of a target. And, there's more to guard against.

Many burglars kick a door in to break in. But Consumer Reports Magazine says the door itself isn't usually the weak spot.

"The problem is that the strikes are held by three-quarter-inch screws," John Galeotafiore, Associate Director of Consumer Reports Magazine's Home Improvement Division, said. "It doesn't go into the main beam of the building. So when you kick in the door, it just breaks away this small piece of wood."

Consumer Reports Magazine tested solid wood doors and solid steel doors -- neither held, but again, not because the doors gave way. It was the doorjamb that split near the lock's strike plate. Galeotafiore says there's an easy, inexpensive fix.

"You can strengthen any exterior door using a metal, reinforced box strike," he said. "They're about $10 at most hardware stores, and if you install them using three-inch screws, they'll go into the framing beyond the doorjamb."

You can also make your home more secure by lodging a pole against your sliding glass doors, and by having good outdoor lighting installed (high up so it can't easily be disabled).

If you have the money to install an alarm, Consumer Reports Magazine suggests a system that includes sensors throughout your home, not just on doors and windows.

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