The Top Three Free Ways to Protect Your Home

We found three free and easy ways to help protect your privacy and keep your house safe from burglars and other criminals.

1) Limit what goes online. With social media sites like Facebook growing in popularity, the number of people able to see your photos and messages increases. And it attracts criminals.

According to one study done in 2011 by U.K. security firm Friedland, almost 80% of burglars surveyed said they use sites like Facebook and Twitter to case houses. Just last year, Facebook made headlines when a trio of burglars were caught breaking into a California home. They knew the home would be empty thanks to the family posting about their vacation.

Most important: Don't post photos of your vacation while you're away. Criminals will know your house is unoccupied at that time. And some privacy experts recommend you don't use websites' check-in features when you're at the airport or out of town. And never announce when you're going away or how long you'll be gone.

Also, make sure never to put your address on Facebook and avoid photos with your house number or street name.

2) Keep valuables out of sight. Sure, we all want to show off our possessions. Just be mindful to keep them on display away from areas where people can easily see them. For example, don't keep your busy-street-facing windows open when your brand-new TV is directly across from them. Consider blinds, light curtains, or moving the television to a spot where people can't see it from the road. For more private areas, like the bathroom, consider frosted glass instead so you don't reduce the amount of light.

3) Don't advertise your new purchases. It might seem obvious, but whenever you make an expensive purchase, hide the box in the trash. Don't just set that new iPad box right out in the open on top of your recycling pile. It's a major draw for thieves. Cut up boxes and fold them to avoid letting them be seen.

And don't go posting photos of all your new expensive gifts on social media sites. All those pictures just make you more of a target.

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