MADISON (ANGIE'S LIST/WKOW) -- With the memorial day weekend fast approaching, don't forget about home security if you're leaving town.
Experts say it's easy for busy people to become careless and leave their home vulnerable to break-ins. In this weeks "Angie's List" report, three ways to enhance the security of your home without spending a fortune.
"I'm not a fearful person, I tend to be careful, but not fearful so more than anything I was just really frustrated and irritated and a little, more than a little angry," homeowner Katie said of the morning she found her snowblower and bike missing from her garage.
Katie also felt foolish because the side door of her garage was unlocked. "It had an old lock on it, we didn't have a key, so it wasn't secured," she explained.
"If you're concerned about security around your home a great improvement is to install deadbolts on your doors," Angie Hicks, with Angie's List said.
All it takes is one call and about $100 per lock.
"That included the cost of the deadbolt lock and the keys," Katie said. "It was worth it because the bike was worth well more than that and the snowblower."
Fortunately, Katie says she hasn't had a security scare since.
"When selecting a lock you need to realize not all locks are created equally, so you want to check with the American National Standards Institute to find the rating of each lock you are considering," Hicks said.
Also, make sure the door itself is in good condition. A good lock on a bad door won't protect you. "If you knock on the door a solid door with sound "dead" when you knock on a hollow door, it's going to echo," Hicks added.
Experts also say, don't forget about lighting.
"Those of criminal intent would prefer to work under the cover of darkness, so a well lit home will discourage those sorts of activities," lighting contractor Ralph Redmond said.
When installing security lighting, Angie says the key is to use it properly.
"Lights that are left on all the time are often ignored and may be a sign that you're not actually home," Hicks said. "Using lights that are on sensors is a much better choice."
Experts say you must do your homework before making a hire. Reputable locksmiths and contractors will come in a marked vehicle and should accept check or credit card payments. You should not be expected to pay in cash.
It's wise to have a security lighting plan for inside your home as well, especially if you plan to be away for an extended period of time.
The best light timers allow random settings, so there is no fixed pattern to signal a homeowner is gone.