Protecting yourself from thieves

FRESNO, Calif.

In your car, one obvious problem is leaving things out for crooks to see. Some of their favorite targets are cell phones and laptop computers. They'll break your window for those, but if they like your car, they might just tow it -- so learning to parallel park could help you protect your car.

But most of us are even easier targets at home.

Wendy Camerik never used to lock her door. That changed after there were seven house break-ins in her neighborhood on the same day. "My routine when I leave the house has completely turned upside-down because I have to remember to turn on the alarm and lock the doors before I leave."

Plenty of people aren't taking the same precautions. 19-percent of U.S. homeowners don't always lock their doors, according to a Consumer Reports' National Research Center survey. 26-percent sometimes don't lock their windows, and 43-percent don't always turn on their home alarm when they're away.

Those are just some of the many security mistakes Consumer Reports uncovered when it took a look at 25 things cops and crooks say you're doing wrong.

"They told us that letting bushes and shrubs get overgrown and having poor exterior lighting make it easier for a burglar to hide and then break into your home," said Dan Diclerico with Consumer Reports.

Leaving your garage door open is another no-no."Not only can everything in your garage be stolen, but a burglar can break down the door leading into your house, which usually isn't as strong."

People are lax with their cars, too. 11-percent of those polled said they sometimes leave their car keys in the ignition. And hiding a spare key is another dumb move.

"That just makes it easier for thieves. It's better to keep a spare in your wallet or purse," said Diclerico.

When you're away from home, don't let newspapers and mail pile up. And leaving some inexpensive kids' toys on the lawn can help deter thieves who think you're home.

A lot of people are also making it easy for crooks to access their bank accounts. Consumer Reports says nearly one in ten keep their pin code with their debit card.

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