What can you do to keep your home safe from intruders?

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News is committed to building a Better Bay Area.

As we focus on the issues of personal safety and crime prevention, we want to help consumers learn how to protect themselves and their property.

7 on Your Side's Michael Finney speaks to home security expert Anthony Byers about how you and your family can stay safe at home!

Your home's security can be improved both inside and out. Byers took Michael Finney on a step by step tour, starting with the front door.

One simple improvement is to convert a manual porch light to a dawn-to-dusk sensor -- a sensor that can detect differences in the amount of light around it, and turn itself on when it gets dark.

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Criminals watching your home try to figure out your routines, so having a light on a timer or leaving it on all the time isn't as effective when it comes to throwing off a potential burglar.

Side yards and backyards can provide opportunities for criminals to hide.

Large plants that are hard to see through can conceal a person; instead, consider plants that allow you to see through them more easily -- or better yet, use plants such as cacti that can deter someone from touching or leaning on it.

Any entryway that is out of sight is more vulnerable to someone trying to hide near it -- or to someone trying to break it down.

Byers notes a wooden side door in the home he and Michael Finney are touring.

The wooden door and simple lock are easily kicked in; Byers recommends reinforcing the doorknob plate and door jamb with metal plates, easily purchased at a hardware store.

Or better yet, Byers says, install a metal security door so that intruders can't access the inner wooden door at all.

Once in the garage, there are more security issues that might be overlooked.

Automatic garage doors that open by remote control are often programmed with the same factory code; owners should change them to a personal code and update them regularly.

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Windows should be covered to protect privacy and to help conceal when you're not at home.

And even if you park your car inside a closed garage, Byers suggests locking the car and arming its alarm system.

If you're in a situation where you have access to your key fob, you can press the emergency button to turn on the alarm.

This has the affect of attracting attention to your home... something criminals definitely do not want!

As Byers and Michael reach the inside of the home, Byers encourages homeowners to consider a security system.

A good security system includes door sensors, window sensors, and motion sensors, according to him.

Byers does warn that consumers should thoroughly investigate any system they might buy.

They should consider if the system locks them into a contract, or if it requires professional installation.

If a burglar does make it inside the house, homeowners shouldn't make it easy to find their valuables.

Only costume jewelry should be kept out in jewelry boxes.

More expensive pieces should be kept out of sight, preferably in a safe.

Safes themselves should be concealed, and bolted to the floor or wall.

Otherwise, the thief may just take the safe with them.

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Finally, Byers warns of "physical" identity theft.

Any mail, especially bills, left out in the open inside your home could be taken, and the information inside used to steal your identity.

Thieves may even simply take a photo of the information on your mail, and leave the mail where it is -- so the owner has no idea it's been compromised.

Many home security improvements are simple and affordable -- making it easy to implement a few extra measures to keep your family and home safe.

For more tips on how to keep safe follow this link.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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