Buying your first home is an exciting step on one’s journey through life. It can also be somewhat stressful. Owning your own home provides a notable sense of freedom. But, as always, with freedom comes responsibility. Your responsibilities will be numerous, and will include everything from cutting the grass and maintaining your property, to paying property taxes and keeping your home in reasonable repair. Some duties are more pressing than others. While fallen leaves can wait, your home’s security is one responsibility you can’t afford to put off. More than two million burglaries are committed every year in the United States, and a majority of them involve residential properties—much like yours. Clearly, modern homeowners can’t just hope for the best. You’ve invested a lot into your new home. Now it’s time to take a few simple steps to help ensure the continued value and safety of your home. 1)Familiarize Yourself with Your New Environment It’s helpful to be able to identify suspicious activity when it occurs in your new neighborhood. But you can’t do that if you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings. Try to get a sense of what types of vehicles are normal, at what times of the day, so you’ll have a better sense of what’s out of place should criminals visit your area and begin “casing” homes for vulnerabilities. 2) Get to Know the Neighbors It’s a cliché, but it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a neighborhood of concerned neighbors to look out for one another when suspicious activities occur. Friendly neighbors may be willing to swap favors when it comes to leaving your property unattended for extended periods, for example. 3) Change the Locks Unless your home is new construction, it makes sense to change out the locks when you move in. You have no way of knowing, otherwise, who may have obtained keys to your home over the years. Take this opportunity to assess the physical strength of your doors, strike plates, locks and deadbolts, too. They may benefit from an upgrade. 4) Maintain Your Property Even if you don’t have to answer to a home owner’s association with stickler rules about property maintenance, it pays to keep your property in top shape. Un-mowed lawns, overgrown shrubs (particularly in front of accessible windows), newspapers littering the driveway, broken windows, dead lightbulbs, faulty door latches, and dying plants on the porch all scream: “No one lives here, come on in!—And by the way, our overgrown landscaping will provide cover while you break in.” 5) Invest in a Home Security Surveillance System As a new homeowner, you’re likely to be on a tight budget. But you have to protect your investment. These days a self-installed home security surveillance system is within virtually any homeowner’s reach. Systems are more sophisticated—yet less expensive, and easier to install—than ever before.