Statistics compiled by the National Sheriff's Association show that burglary is a crime of opportunity: If a thief can be denied entry to a residence for as little as four minutes, he or she generally will give up rather than run further risk of detection.

Below is a check list of relatively simple, inexpensive steps that could help you prevent a burglary at your home:

Front entrance: Doors should be solid wood or metal-clad. A screen door or storm door offers additional protection if kept locked. A deadlock is essential. Use a wide-angle viewer rather than a door chain to check on callers.

Porch, patio or back entrances: Treat all exterior doors on the rear and sides of your home as probable targets. Since these doors often cannot be seen easily from the street or from neighbor's homes, extra precautions may be in order.

Garage and basement doors: The outer garage door should always be closed and locked, as should a garage or basement door that leads to your home.

Sliding glass doors: These should be secured with special latch deadlocks or by placing a metal or wood dowel in the tracks. Screws also may be driven into the tracks to prevent the window from being dislodged.

Exterior lights: Each exterior entrance, including your garage should be well lighted. Low-cost controls will turn the lights on and off at specified times.

Interior lights: Keep some interior lights burning if you are away from home for the evening or for a few days. Keep them on timers so they will go on and off, giving the illusion that someone is home.

Ground floor windows: These windows should have key-operated sash locks. Screens and storm windows should be securely fastened to the structure. Keep windows closed and locked when you are away.

Basement windows: If windows are not needed for ventilation, keep them permanently shut by putting screws through the window frame. Otherwise, keep them closed and locked.

Upper floor windows: Keep tree branches cut back. Do not store a ladder where a burglar may use it.

Landscaping: Keep trees, bushes and flowers away from doorways, windows and porches. Make arrangements to have your lawn mowed while you are away.

Cooperation: Ask neighbors to report to police any suspicious person or activities around the home, and offer to reciprocate.