The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office is offering free home security checks to property owners hoping to avoid a break-in.

One of the best ways to keep your place from getting burglarized is to not telegraph that you're not home. Uncollected mail and newspapers for example set out a welcome mat for thieves.

"It's telling an individual there's nobody at home, especially if you drive by at night, eight o'clock in the morning, three o'clock in the afternoon the light's still on," Gary Shults with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said. "You want to make it as tough as you can on them so they decide it's not worth it and move on."

Shults tours homes looking for weaknesses in its security and offers suggestions on how to shore it up to deter thieves.

He also suggests making your home look and sound occupied, even when you're not home, which can keep burglars away in the first place. Timers, for example, can turn on lights radios and televisions to keep the crooks guessing.

"Now they're hearing noise in here, the lights are coming on and generally they're not going to take a chance on something like that," he said.

Shults finishes up each inspection with a written report so homeowners can tackle the list of improvements the next time they're at the hardware store.

You don't even have to have a home safety security check to make some improvements.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has all sorts of hints and even the latest burglary trends on their website.