One of nation’s top home-security firms offers tips to protect your home from crime

One of the nation’s leading security companies suggests these tips for making your home more secure:

• To reduce the chance of easy entry, cut tree limbs away from second-story windows.

• Secure objects such as ladders or trash cans that could be used to enter a window or scale a fence.

• To prevent hiding places for intruders, trim bushes to expose branch structure.

• To illuminate entries, install motion lights.

• Install easy-to-read and illuminated address numbers so emergency personnel can easily locate your home.

• Be aware of usual and unusual neighborhood activities and report suspicious behavior.

• Secure all windows, including those upstairs.

• Never leave a key hidden outside. Burglars know all the best hiding places.

• Install peepholes and ask to see identification from service and delivery people.

• Install dead-bolt locks on exterior en-trances.

• Avoid displaying gifts where they can easily be seen through windows.

• Take care when disposing of product packaging so you aren’t “advertising” recent, high-dollar purchases.

Follow these steps to help your home ap-pear occupied and to deter burglars if you plan to be away for several days:

• Use timers to operate lights.

• Turn your telephone ringer down so no one outside can hear repeated rings. Review your telephone answering machine message to make sure it does not imply you are away.

• Arrange for continuing yard care.

• Ask a friend to pick up deliveries or have deliveries stopped.

• If your car is parked in the driveway, have a friend move it occasionally. Also, keep the doors locked and do not store garage door openers in vehicles parked outside of a secured garage.

If your home is protected by a security system from a reputable company:

• Ask your alarm provider about wireless backup or Web-enabled security in the event your telephone line fails or is tampered with and so that you can receive convenient alerts through your cell phone or other personal digital assistant, or PDA.

• Test your system monthly to ensure it is working properly before an emergency occurs.

• Help prevent false alarms by providing instructions about the operation of your security system to house guests and avoid placing moving ornaments or decorations, such as balloons, in the path of motion detectors