PLYMOUTH, Mich. -

Thieves break into homes across Metro Detroit, but what people do during their fall clean up can help prevent crooks from targeting their homes.

Tony Accurso said he takes every precaution to protect his Sterling Heights home.  He has double locks on his doors and reinforces his sliding windows with sticks in the track.

Last week a home on his street was broken into. Police said the thief got in through an unlocked kitchen window.

"It doesn't make me feel too good," said Accurso. "We're constantly checking all the windows, constantly checking the doors, making sure they're all locked."

Officer Tony Angelosanto is a crime prevention specialist for the Plymouth Police Department.  He said a house that appears cared for lets thieves know the homeowner will take steps to try to protect their stuff.

"They're going to be looking at your doors and windows as well.  They're going to be looking for signs of an alarm," said Tony Angelosanto of the Plymouth police department. "Criminals are opportunistic.  They're going to look for houses that appear easy, that appear easy targets, also if they see valuables from the street, that's also temptation for them."

When people do their fall clean up around their yards they should walk around and pinpoint places that can be easy entry ways for thieves, check that windows are locked, cut overgrown shrubs below the window sills so crooks can't hide, make sure valuables in the home are not visible from the street and check that all the outside lights work.

Carolyn Shey walks around her Royal Oak home three times a week to check the lights around her home.

"I make sure the bushes are away from the windows, so I get a plain site view to the windows. At nighttime, I have quite a few lights that do come on automatically so my house is very well lit up front and back," said Shey.

Angelosanto said homeowners should avoid using timers for their lights because crooks watch for that since they often case a home for up to a week at a time before trying to break into it.

"Change your routines, leave different lights on, talk with your neighbors, keep an eye on each other's homes, a neighborhood watch is a great way to go," said Angelosanto.  "If you see a suspicious vehicle that you don't think belongs in the area or somebody over at somebody's house, your neighbor's house that you know shouldn't be there, don't hesitate to call your local police department, call 911."

Angelosanto offered the following advice to strengthen the locks on doors and windows.

"You want to have good doors and windows.  If you have windows that slide you want to put some sort of broom stick or pipe maybe in the track to keep them from moving or being lifted out of the window track itself. You can also drill pin holes in the top and use a simple pin lock," said Officer Tony Angelosanto of the Plymouth police department. "For doors, your best doors are steel doors, three to four inches thick.  Steel doors are usually fire proof. You want to have a nice dead bolt on there."

Angelosanto recommends having deadbolts without keys on the inside if you have a home with children because if there is an emergency and the children need to get out of the home quickly, if that door is luck than you have to try and find the key.  He said if you keep the key in it, thieves can break the side window and turn the key.

He also said the weakest part of a door is generally the strike plate area where your bolt meets the wooden frame on a home.  He said homeowners should always a steel door with a steel frame.   He said most strike plates are installed with a half inch or quarter inch screws or less, but you want to have three inch screws or more so that it screws right into the woodwork of the door, right into the stud. He said you can make your home more secure just by changing the screws in the strike plate.

Angelosanto also said homeowners should make sure their address is visible on their home and at the street so that in the event of an emergency, police and other first responders can easily spot the home.

The Plymouth police department offer homeowners and businesses free security inspections to help alert them to potential problem areas.  For more information, you can call 734-453-1234 extension 526.