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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Finding Safe Alternatives for Protecting Valuables

March 07, 1992

Moviegoers may enjoy Hollywood's version of safecracking--a masked burglar breaks into a safe hidden behind a picture. But it's not so enjoyable when their own homes are the target, Home Plan Ideas magazine reports.

Burglaries are serious business, victimizing Americans once every 10 seconds, and occurring in one out of every 14 homes each year, says the FBI.

Home security systems, such as a fireproof home safe, help protect valuables. Many of today's safes are attractive enough to come out of hiding and sturdy enough to deter a thief. Although obscure places work well--such as inside a closet--safes can also be put in easy-access areas.

What type of safe? The main choices are in-wall or in-floor safes, although free-standing models that bolt to the floor are available. In-wall units can be installed during or after house construction. They are bolted between wall studs or floor joists. Double-thick steel walls and doors, double bolts, and combination locks provide security; insulation blocks heat.

A foundation safe is designed to be set in wet concrete. The body is welded armor steel, topped by a thick door and combination lock. The concrete further boosts fire protection. The location should be part of the architectural plan.

Most safes cost less than $350. Installation costs more after the home is built. Heat-resistant metal boxes are sold for less than $50, but beware: Some will survive a fire, but the contents won't.

Use a safe to store deeds, titles, stocks, tax records, wills, insurance policies, passports, birth certificates, sentimental letters that cannot be replaced, credit cards, cash, jewelry, computer disks, medications, and photographs of possessions.

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