If burglars think it will take more than four or five minutes to break into a house, they will move on, according to the Insurance Information Institute. You can help make that happen by thinking like a thief. Conduct a thorough examination of your home to discover its weak points.

Although it will take time, effort and a bit of expense, upgrading the security features of your home and taking a few extra measures now can prevent headaches and heartaches later.

In addition to taking the following precautions, you may also want to add endorsements to your homeowners or renters insurance policy to cover expensive jewelry, artwork or other valuables.

Secure your doors. Begin by making sure the outside doors and their frames are made of thick or solid hardwood. You should also install a one-way viewer in your front door so you can screen visitors.

Pay attention to your locks. Replace old, worn-out door locks with new pick-resistant ones. And if your outside doors don’t have cylinder dead bolt locks, put them in.

Secure all large dog doors to prevent anyone from using them to enter your home. If you have a sliding glass door, one of the most common points of entry for robbers, reinforce it by placing a wooden rod or metal bar in the track it slides on, so it can’t be easily opened.

Prepare your yard and exterior. Trim or cut down tall or thick shrubs around windows or doors that could provide cover. Install exterior lighting that focuses on potential hiding places in your yard. Motion sensor floodlights may be best.

Be careful when displaying things. If a burglar does decide to case your house, avoid enticing him or her by limiting the number of valuable items that are visible through a window or glass door.

When you purchase expensive items, don’t leave the boxes at curbside or elsewhere in plain sight. Break them down and dispose of them as soon as possible.

Hanging spare house and car keys in a visible location is also risky. Hide them or lock them up away from view.

Get ready for vacations. Prepare for absences by installing smart home devices or automatic timers to turn inside lights and radios on and off at various times. Make sure your home looks like someone is living there.

Turn off the volume of your landline telephone ringer, so it can’t be heard from outside. By searching online, burglars can connect addresses with names, and names with phone numbers. Once they find a number, they can call it to see if anyone answers.

Never announce on social media that you are planning to be away. Avoid leaving detailed out-of-office messages at work.

Consider the best method of all. Post a “Beware of Dog” sign and put a bowl of water and a chain in your backyard, even if you don’t have a dog. Professional burglars say a dog is the only deterrent that almost always works.

Don’t forget insurance. For more information on auto, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance, please contact your local AAA office.

Get a Home or RentersInsurance Quote today!