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Taking precautions against thieves

Dear Heloise: My wife and I live in a very safe community where home invasions and porch pirates don’t seem to be a problem. So, you can probably imagine my shock to find out that four of my neighbors were robbed a short while ago.

I called a home security company to install monitoring equipment, and they gave me a list of things to do to keep my home safe from thieves. I thought I’d pass it along to you in the hopes that it might help your readers stay safe during this holiday season:

1. Install window locks if you don’t already have locks on your windows.

2. For sliding doors, grab a wooden or metal rod and place it in the track of the door to stop a potential forced entry.

3. Do not let shrubbery grow over your windows. Keep them trimmed back so that no one can hide in them.

4. Never open doors to strangers. Look through the peephole before opening doors to anyone.

5. Never broadcast your vacation plans on social media. Wait until you get back from your trip; then you can post photos and talk about what a great time you had.

6. Video doorbells are an excellent way to monitor who’s on your doorstep.

7. Motion-detecting outdoor lights will usually deter a thief, especially if you have an outdoor camera that records footage of the intruders. Use high-resolution cameras that also have night vision.

8. If you have a house key hidden outside of your home, try putting it in a plastic bag and burrowing it in a potted plant, a window box or in some other unusual spot. Don’t tell anyone where it is.

9. You might want to look into a home-monitoring service that alerts the police if someone breaks into your home.

10. People tend to overlook gate locks and garage locks. Just remember, thieves want a quick and easy way into your home. Make it as hard for them as you can. — John and Connie H., in Massachusetts

REUSING OLD TOWELS

Got a bunch of old towels that have holes, are stained or no longer look good in your bathroom? Here are some useful hints on how to repurpose them:

— Use them for dusting or polishing furniture, shoes or windows.

— Donate them to any animal shelter, veterinarian clinic or animal charity.

— Carry some clean towels in your car for any number of situations.

— Cut them up into washcloth-sized squares to remove makeup.

— Use one to cover a dog or cat bed to keep it clean. When it gets dirty, you can simply toss it into the washing machine.

SAVING ON WRAPPING PAPER

Dear Heloise: Instead of buying a bunch of wrapping paper and ribbons for this upcoming Christmas/Hanukkah, I bought a big roll of brown craft paper. I had my four kids roll it out and draw pictures of things that remind them of Chistmas (my side of the family) and Hanukkah (my husband’s side). I told them we would use their artwork as wrapping paper.

I not only saved a bundle of money, but it gave them the opportunity to express what they felt that the holidays were all about. It wasn’t just about gift-giving. My twins are only 8 years old, but they asked if we could do this every year. — Nancy E., Provo, Utah

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Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.

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