Many Intruders steer clear of occupied houses, but that doesn't mean you should assume nothing can happen. A break-in when you're there could put family members at risk. Here are eight key at-home security habits well worth cultivating.

  • Use the locks. Get in the habit of keeping doors and windows locked- even when you're home.
  • Keep the keys. Know the whereabouts of all keys to the house. Don't hide an extra key under the door mat, in the mail box, in a flower pot, or any place else.
  • Screen every unknown person who comes to the door.  Before you  open the door, ask to see the identification of anyone you don't recognize- even if the person is wearing a uniform or is driving a commercial truck; both could be fake or stolen.
  • Vary your routine.  If neighbors can set their watches by your comings and goings, a potential intruder can figure out when you'll be gone.
  •  Use the phone wisely. Avoid getting information callers you don't know, or even ones who claim to be friends of family members or representatives of a company you know.
  • Keep valuables out of sight. If a window peeper sees a purse, wallet, jewelry, or cell phone laying in plain sight, he may be tempted to "smash and grab".
  • Track your trash. If you've just treated the family to a new stereo, television set, or computer, don't set the empty boxes out on trash day in plain sight.
  • Be alert when out and about. Taking an early-morning run or walking the dog shouldn't put you on high alert, but you should always be aware of your surroundings, even in your own neighborhood.