NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With temperatures up and school out, homeowners and renters just want to kick back and enjoy summer -- which sometimes means taking undue risk with their home and possessions.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that violent crime and home break-ins rise in the summer months with the heat, school breaks and as more Americans leave their homes to go on vacation.
Not for nothing, but way too many Americans don't secure their homes properly (although they do lock their doors) in the summer -- in fact, 44% of North Americans fall short, according to Master Lock, a Milwaukee security firm.
"Safety starts and ends at home," says Rebecca Smith, a spokeswoman for Master Lock. "There's no better time to incorporate safe practices into your family's routine to ensure a safe and memorable summer."
To best secure your home, here are a few tips for U.S households:
Keep all doors and windows locked. Yes, it's a no-brainer. But thieves look for the easiest entry points to homes, and you can't beat an unlocked door or window for easy access.
Go for specialty locks. If there is one device to keep criminals from breaking into your home, it's a specialty lock. Add some motion sensors to your home's entryways and thieves will likely keep right on going -- away from your house.
Meet with your neighbors. Police highly recommend keeping a watchful eye on your neighborhood and reporting any suspicious activity. Don't confront a potentially armed thief, however. Instead, call 911 immediately.
Think outside the box -- and your house. So you have valuables outside the house, such as a sit-down lawnmower or motorcycle? Make sure to lock them up and engrave the machines. Doing so will make the valuables harder for criminals to sell, encouraging them to move on to another target or at least making the goods easier to recover.
Don't let repair people in without a full check. Avoid repair "professionals" who drive unmarked vans, have no business card card or documents or who pressure you to hire them. They either want to rip you off now or once they pin down your schedule.
No social networking. If you plan on going away, don't advertise the trip on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Thieves troll those sites all the time, and knowing when you're going is half the game for them. Also, wait until you return from your trip to post photos and comments.
Good summer crime prevention is all about common sense. Be wary, keep your eyes open and be smart about not leaving clues about your leaving for a few days or more.